A review of how the NHS treats whistleblowers is being sought by the nurse who has been struck off for exposing the mistreatment of elderly hospital patients.
Margaret Haywood, a nurse of 20 years' standing, had secretly filmed shocking neglect at the Royal Sussex Hospital for Panorama, the BBC`s flagship investigative programme.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found that because of her "major breach" of the code of conduct, "it would not be in the public interest for her to be able to practise as a nurse".
But says Ms Haywood: "There was no other way of getting the full picture. I am absolutely devastated and upset by it all. I think I have been treated very harshly.
"It is a serious issue, and I knew it was a risk I was taking, but I thought the filming was justified, and it was in the public interest. I did voice my concerns through my immediate line manager, and I also went to my ward manager, but nothing was really taken on board."
She cited a Healthcare Commission report into "appalling" conditions at Stafford Hospital, and said that nurses are now afraid to speak out.
Copyright © Press Association 2009
Did the NMC take the right action over this incident? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"No – we have lost a nurse with 20 years' experience for doing what the management should have already actioned" – Mike Badham, Hereford
"This nurse should have been prased for speaking out. But yet again, the NMC is trying to lookd good and powerful, but at the end of the day it is still the patient who has been hard done by, as this kind of bad practice goes on and nobody is taking a stand for them as nurses are too worried about saying or doing anything because nobody will stand by them. The NMC is not living in the real world. Nurses need somebody with a backbone to fight with them for bad practice, the NMC is not the one for any nurse who practises and works to protect patients as the usual outcome is the same: nurses will be treated harshly. I feel appalled and no nurse will speak out if they want to carry on working, and bad management will get a way with murder, and the NMC get more and more rich and powerful. It is no wonder why so many nurses leave nursing – not only have they got the spineless NMC, but also a very poor union in the RCN. It costs lots of money to be with the RCN but they are not really a union at all" – Elisabeth Ling, London
"No. The nurse had every right to speak out. She should have been praised. She wanted to protect others, but also by protecting others she protected her employers. What would have happened if others had complained and brought a court action against them? Would they have been prepared to pay compensation?" – Maggie W, Essex