There have been a total of seventeen whistleblowing claims made in the Southern Health Trust area, which includes the Dungannon District.
The claims, made in the past two years, represent staff’s attempts to shine a light into the hidden recesses of local health services, raising concerns over the utilisation of staff, staff conduct and fraud.
Worryingly there has been a three-fold increase in the claims with last year’s total of 13, the joint highest for any trust area in the North.
A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said that the increase in whistleblowers was the result of an ‘invitation to whistleblow’ letter that had been circulated by the Minister of Health in 2012.
During 2011/12 there were no whistleblowing claims in the local trust, but within a year this had risen to three.
All of the whistleblowers remained anonymous, which the trust said made it difficult to clarify the full details of the complaints on some occasions.
The spokesperson went on to say: “The Trust is committed to ensuring open and transparent arrangements are in place for staff to raise concerns and every effort is made to ensure that our staff are aware of the Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure for Raising Concerns.
“In 2012, the former Health Minister’s ‘invitation to whistleblow’ letter was circulated to all staff along with the Trust’s Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure for Raising Concerns at work to reinforce the responsibility on all staff to raise concerns where they felt it was necessary.
“Team leaders/managers were requested to discuss the Minister’s letter and procedure at their team meetings. This would account for the increase in numbers of concerns raised under the Whistleblowing Policy.
“Of the 13 concerns raised in 2013/14, 3 related to resource / staff utilisation, 6 related to staff conduct, and 4 were fraud related misuse of trust resources.
“The Trust carried out investigations based on the information provided in the complaint, although given they were raised anonymously it was not possible to clarify the full detail of the complaint on every occasion.”