M3 Explain why whistleblowers and those whose practice or behaviour is being questioned should be protected.

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M3 explain why whistleblowers and those whose practice or behaviour is being questioned should be protected


Health and social care is regulated by organisations such as the Care Quality Commission, Health Care Professions Council and Ofsted. However, endless reports of poor care indicate that on its own formal regulation is not enough in preventing abuse from happening. Another form of regulation is known as irregular regulation and this predominantly refers to the practice of whistleblowing. Whistleblowing is where an employee makes a disclosure to either their employer or a regulatory body and in some cases a wider disclosure is made, for instance to the press. Whistleblowing has far reaching ramifications for both the person who is accused and the whistleblower. This essay explores these issues and explains why whistleblowers and those whose practice or behaviour is being questioned should be protected.


Since the Jimmy Savile story broke in 2011, allegations of both current and historic child abuse seem never ending. When the Savile scandal first came to light many people asked why it had not been reported at the time and how it could had taken place in some of Britain’s most famous public institutions. Investigations into the Jimmy Savile scandal highlighted just how difficult it can be for staff and the victims to make a disclosure (BBC News, 2012). First, children in care are extremely vulnerable and the perpetrator will usually use threats to ensure that the abuse is not discovered; and where an organisation is corrupt from top to bottom children will be even more vulnerable. They realise that they will most probably not be believed and will be even more fearful when the problem is cultural and part of the day-to-day practices of the organisation. This was the case in Islington children’s homes during the early 1990s which had been infiltrated by paedophiles (Fairweather, 1998 p 20). In such circumstances a disclosure within the organisation would be pointless as the management are either heavily involved or turn a blind eye to what is going on.

Frustratingly, a disclosure to a regulatory body may also not bear fruit. Winterbourne View nurse, Terry Bryan, experienced apathy when he disclosed abuse to the Care Quality Commission, and through a moral duty he then reported the abuses to the BBC (Hill, 2012). It is absolutely imperative for all professionals to embrace this moral duty and make sure that the children who they care for are protected from the horrendous consequences of abuse. Serial killers Fred and Rosemary West  took advantage of this vulnerability and targeted victims from children’s homes knowing that little would be done about their disappearance (Taylor, 1998 p 55). This paints a worrying picture of children running away to escape abusive regimes only to end up in even more dangerous situations. The recent Rotherham child abuse scandal confirmed how children in care are vulnerable with many of the victims being in the care system (Ahmed, S 2014). The independent report criticised South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council after finding ‘at least’ 1400 children were sexually exploited in the town between 1997 and 2013 (BBC News, 2014) This case highlighted a cultural problem endemic within the police and health and social care institutions. Quite often children who reported abuse to teachers and police were seen as troublemakers rather than victims, and the denials permeated even wider into political circles with the council’s deputy leader resigning over claims he knew about a relationship between a girl in care and a suspected child abuser. Furthermore, the town’s mayor resigned over claims he had sexually abused a 13 year old girl (BBC News, 2014). When people have ‘skeletons in the cupboard’ they will have good reasons to ignore abuse and even go out of their way to prevent whistleblowers from making a disclosure. Mandelstam (2013 p277) identifies some of the lengths that employers may go to in order to silence the whistleblower. Some of these include subtle sanctions such as reducing secretarial help, threatening colleagues who support the whistleblower, alleging that the whistleblower is mentally ill and even arranging sham internal investigations against the whistleblower. An easy route is for the whistleblower to give up which ultimately leaves the children remaining in danger. This is why protection is needed for the whistleblower as the main part of caring is the protection of the service user and making sure that they come to no harm.

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Since Rotherham, and other high profile adult cases, such as Winterbourne View and Stafford Hospital, professional bodies are emphasising that members abide strictly by their codes of practice. All health and social care codes have the general principle that service users should not be harmed, and that professionals should speak up if they see harm happening (Mandelstam 2013, p 202). Consequently, any professional who knowingly fails to report abuse will face disciplinary action and could even lose their professional registration. This is important if there is to be a change in culture where managers do not try to cover ...

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