Majorities of all parties say NHS staff should be able to publicly speak out about problems with services – and a slim majority of the public do not trust the NHS to be open and honest about services and standards of care
Yesterday the outgoing chief executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, stood before the Public Accounts Committee to explain his failure to declare payoffs to the sum of £2 million for staff leaving the NHS, which the Committee suspects were used as ‘gagging orders’ to silence staff wanting to speak out about problems with NHS services. Mr Nicholson denies any cover up, and claims the responsibility for declaring secret payoffs to the Treasury had passed to the Department of Health on the day he took up his post.
Today new YouGov research reveals that slightly more than half (51%) of British adults do not trust the NHS to be open and honest about its services and standards of care. That is compared to 41% who do trust the health service. Labour voters are the only party group to trust the NHS more than they distrust it on the issue, however this is by a very small margin (48% to 45%).
The majority of British adults also oppose the silencing of NHS staff: 56% say “NHS Staff who find problems with services should be able to publically speak out about them to alert the public and make sure the issue is properly dealt with”, while under a third (32%) believe that “staff who find problems with services should raise them internally where they can be better dealt with and do not cause public alarm or damage confidence in health services.”
What is more, the majority opposed to NHS gagging is made up of supporters of every party: 56% of Conservatives, 61% of Labour voters, 57% of Lib Dems and 67% of UKIP supporters.
Sir David Nicholson was forced to stand down in May over his involvement in the Mid Staffordshire Trust scandal, when the health authority he was in charge of caused the death of between 400 and 1,200 patients by neglect.
Prior to his resignation, a March YouGov survey found that 64% of the public thought that Sir Nicholson should resign.