The Whistleblower's Tale

Comment & Opinion

Eileen Chubb, RGN, founder of The Whistler and Compassion in Care

Eileen was one of seven care workers who blew the whistle on wide spread abuse of vulnerable elderly people in a care home. They were the first Whistle-blowers to lodge a case under PIDA ( Public Interest Disclosure Act) and soon became known as “The Bupa 7” by the media. Despite all the abuse being upheld by Social Services their Employment Tribunal case exposed fundamental flaws in PIDA and this laws failure to protect whistle-blowers.

Eileen’s book, Beyond The Façade is a detailed account of her experience as a whistle-blower.

Eileen founded the charity Compassion In Care which campaigns to protect vulnerable elderly people in care homes, acting on information from whistle-blowers and concerned relatives. She has started a campaign for Edna’s law, Edna being the first person to continue to suffer horrific abuse until her death, because of the laws failure. Eileen gives talks to many different groups around the country, both on the failures in care and the issues facing whistle-blowers from all professions.


Further Information

Then things started to go wrong. I witnessed abuse, and upon reporting this to management, was told not to speak to anyone else

My Story

After 20 years working in the same job, I decided to work in a care home. I immediately loved the job; it was so rewarding to be able to make a difference to people’s lives and to make them feel safe. I was told I had a natural ability to look after people with dementia.

Then things started to go wrong. I witnessed abuse, and upon reporting this to management, was told not to speak to anyone else, that they would gather evidence, or simply that the staff concerned would just go and work elsewhere if sacked. Initially, I believed something would be done; then a carer told me he too was seeing abuse, had reported it, and had been told pretty much the same thing. It transpired that in all, seven members of staff had raised concerns.

Blowing the whistle

I knew I had to take our concerns outside the home. I told the staff that I was going to inform Social Services, but that they should be aware that our employer would logically, know that we had been the ones to blow the whistle.

The regulator carried out a full investigation and upheld our allegations. However, in the three months that this had taken, we had been intimidated and harrassed by our employer. For example, our wages were not paid ‘due to an oversight’, I had a chair smashed onto my back while attending a resident, others were threatened or spat on. Our lives were made a complete misery, and we reported this to the National Care Forum.

The final straw came when we heard that the worst of the abusers had been placed in other homes owned by our employer; we resigned.

The ‘Bupa 7’

All this resulted in our taking our employer to a tribunal under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998), which provides protection to ‘workers’ making disclosures in the public interest and allows such individuals to claim compensation for victimisation following such disclosures. We spent two years in the legal system. We struggled to find work – once potential employers heard our names, we would be told the job had gone; many times I was asked, “Are you one of those Bupa people?” We had to sell our belongings at boot-fairs to buy food.

Just before we returned to the tribunal, I was asked to settle; as I was the most senior,  it was thought that if I settled, the others would too. The offer was to pay our solicitor’s costs (£70,000). My reply was Bupa did not have enough money to buy my silence.


The verdict was the lowest point of our entire legal struggle; we were told we had not sufficiently considered the consequences to ourselves before reporting the abuse. The Tribunal gave Bupa assurances that the inquiry report upholding all our concerns would not be disclosed or included in evidence. This meant that Bupa were allowed to call us liars during the proceedings, whilst the vital evidence that we were telling the truth was not allowed to be disclosed.  I remember thinking ‘how can this be allowed to happen’. My husband said if you do not fight this you will damn every whistle-blower who comes after you. We had been called the perfect whistle-blowers, but everything we had done was not enough to stop the abuse.

Four years later, when Bupa lost the contract for all the local care homes and a new company took over, poor care and abuse was all finally revealed. The staff who witnessed this considered the consequences to themselves and did not speak out.

What next?

The last thing I said before I left the care home was, ‘there is no compassion in care’. I learnt the hard way that it is one thing to report abuse but quite another thing to stop it from continuing. I have never forgotten those charities that we went to for help and who told us they could not be seen to be helping us. I discovered that this was probably because every charity in this area takes money from the care sector. As a consequence, when I founded my charity, Compassion In Care, I wrote into our constitution that we would never take money from the care sector or any government source. We had no one who would help us during our case and I swore that if I could save others from going through the hell we went through then it would be worth fighting.

I published a book, ‘Beyond the Façade’ in 2008 to relate the full story. The book was widely publicised, yet the contents have never been challenged by the parties involved. The book bears witness for those I saw tortured and is their justice because the truth has prevailed in spite of the law.

We had been called the perfect whistle-blowers, but everything we had done was not enough to stop the abuse.

Compassion in Care has helped over two thousand five hundred whistle-blowers and over a thousand relatives of those abused in homes. We visit homes acting on information received from care home staff or families, and publish our reports which the CQC have full access to. We visit a number of homes in each area including some randomly selected homes in order to find good homes and also to draw the flak from whistle-blowers.

We work with the media to expose bad care when the authorities have failed to act, such as the recent Panorama programme which featured whistle-blowers who had come to us after reporting abuse to their employer and to the authorities. This abuse had continued and was finally exposed by the programme. We also did a joint investigation with Private Eye which uncovered that only two closed homes of  a list of 100 homes the CQC claimed they had closed; in addition we found that inspection histories were being deleted and the public were being misled.

I travel all over the country visiting homes and speaking at various events to raise awareness about abuse and the importance of whistle-blowing. We have campaigned for nearly 15 years for legal protection for whistle-blowers and compiled comprehensive evidence from whistle-blowers, available on our website, whhich identifies common themes.

These reports have been submitted as evidence in support of Edna’s law, which we would like in place of the the Public Interest Disclosure Act. Edna was one of those who suffered horrific abuse; she had no relatives to fight for her and was totally reliant on someone to speak out for her.


I never set out to do any of this, but found myself in a situation where vulnerable people were being abused and I had to act. I have no regrets, if I had to do it again I would not hesitate to do so because it would have cost me more to have kept quiet.

Every time I wonder what it’s all for, all I have to do is close my eyes and remember the incredible people I’ve had the privilege to care for, they are my inspiration and they deserve to be protected.

Please see our website for full details of all our work and please sign our petition for Edna’s law:

We had been called the perfect whistle-blowers, but everything we had done was not enough to stop the abuse.