Whistleblowing and patient safety: the patient’s or the profession’s interests at stake? Bolsin, Pal, Wilmshurst, Pena

I would like to thank Kamran Abassi of JRSM for having the vision and courage to publish this paper. As many journalists and members of the public have requested a copy, it can be downloaded here. Kamran has indeed been a star from start to finish. I pitched this idea to him years ago and finally got the authors together to write it. This is the reference and the original link if download is impossible. If anyone wants a direct copy mailed, please email me.

The reference:-

Stephen Bolsin, Rita Pal, Peter Wilmshurst, and Milton PenaJ R Soc Med 104(7): 278—282; doi:10.1258/jrsm.2011.110034

I must say that working on this paper was extremely difficult. We were under so much pressure to write a pro-establishment paper but we refused and stuck to our principles. Anyhow, I think we did a great job. I of course drafted a lot of the GMC section :). Don't we all love the GMC?! :). I certainly believe the BMA is part of the problem and one that our trade union refuses to address. I for one was never going to do what Professor Jarman wanted us to do - that was write a pro-BMA article. 

I have sent this paper to the GMC and requested a consultation on whistleblowing. We shall see what the Gods in the Regulatory sky have to say. 

The paper has been well received by many people. I am pleased about that. The Independent ran the piece cleverly missing out the fact I was second author. I love these episodes by them. The person who grafts the hardest is summarily omitted. Anyway, these things amuse me no end as it shows that Nina still holds a grudge against me after I won a copyright argument against her. Jeremy Laurence on the other hand does a fantastic job of describing the issues and I agree with his last para. See his recent article here. 

My MP's idea on an Inquiry finally came to fruition - see Nina's excellent piece in the Independent. Here is the evidence from Private Eye itself ""More Staffing Problems Private Eye No 1234 17th - 30th April 2009 "Dr Pal haslobbied (via her MB Andrew Mitchell) for the Commons health select committee to investigate the problems faced by whistleblowers in the NHS" . Subsequently, this request was made to all corners of the NHS, Department of Health and Parliament and more recently though NHS Reform. It is amusing watching everyone run with the idea without acknowledging who actually came up with it in the first place.

What is interesting about this paper is this - despite being written by whistleblowers, the uptake by the medical media has been poor. Why is this? Obviously because the establishment refuses to address the fact that it has problems - serious problems. While many will seek comfort in the safety offered by Dr Gooderham's cosmetic BMJ homage to whistleblowing - with due respect the Blue Dragon had no experience of whistleblowing at all. Sometimes you have to walk on the yellow brick road to write accurately about it. The fact that he analysed PIDA wrongly is largely ignored by many. The research on PIDA is quite the opposite as we point out. The reluctance of the British Medical media and perhaps many of the bloggers to review the paper or even point to it is indicative of our observations - the profession is not ready for reality. Anyhow, for all those who believe that the paper will remain locked away somewhere in the archives of the JRSM, you can be assured that it has now circulated world-wide. The code of silence by the profession is indeed operational as we all predicted. Unlike Gooderham, I am certainly not going to present misleading material and tell the world that the BMA is not part of the problem. It has always been lazy, ineffective and abusive to most junior doctors. Merely because it creeps up to Kim Holt does not mean the rest of us are persuaded.

While I must say the GMC takes baby steps in trying to improve, the BMA has simply placed its head in the sand and it refuses to remove it. I am of course surprised that Fiona Godlee, Jane Smith and Tony D have not congratulated us on publication. Of course, as they well know, the next publication will be about them and their efforts to curb free speech of whistleblowers.


  1. Congratulations on achieving this Rita.

    I know who did most of the work!

  2. Thanks babe :). Hope you mention the Independent and a link to the paper. Its not a bad paper, hard to get through the sharks though :)