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Treatment of NHS whistleblowers - Prof Marianna Fotaki

A review into the treatment of NHS whistleblowers has reported stories about staff who raised concerns being ignored, bullied or intimidated. Marianna Fotaki, of Warwick Business School, is a Professor of Business Ethics and researches institutional corruption, she gives her thoughts on the treatment of whistleblowers in the NHS.

Professor Marianna Fotaki said: "Whistleblower protection is essential to encourage the reporting of misconduct, fraud and corruption and through speaking truth to power and for upholding democratic governance. But many courageous individuals publicising wrongdoing in government, public health services and commercial institutions, have been ostracized and retaliated against for their disclosures aiming to counteract corruption and protect the public interest.

"Legislation aiming to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers - which exists in many countries - is crucial for recognising the importance of candour and speaking up against wrongdoing. Yet many different legal approaches, initiatives and measures that are meant to address these issues do not extend to organisations where many such activities occur. Such recognition therefore is often symbolic as it provides insufficient protection and offers little support to whistleblowers when they most need it. Part of the issue of course is not the absence of legal remedies but the difficulty of or weaknesses in the enforcement of it.

"Whistleblowers pay a high price for their courage. The cost of whistleblowing on a person’s life, in terms of earnings lost, legal and psychiatric support costs among other things are huge; most of them will never work in them same industry again. However, whistleblowers also want to see that their disclosure leads to change. The fear of retaliation and inaction are two factors discouraging other employees from speaking up against wrongdoing.

"Whistleblowers require effective support, both materially and symbolically, especially when they struggle to rebuild their lives after disclosure. Vilifying them as 'disloyal troublemakers' and 'problems' rather than recognising them as effective tools to avoid risk and ensure compliance, directly undermines public institutions’ missions and leads to these organisations and companies incurring avoidable costs."

To arrange an interview with Professor Fotaki, contact Ashley Potter, Tel: +44 (0)24 7657 3967, Mob: +44 (0)7733 013264, Email:

To arrange an interview with Professor Fotaki, contact Ashley Potter, Tel: +44 (0)24 7657 3967, Mob: +44 (0)7733 013264, Email:

Professor Marianna Fotaki