Edna's Law: where are we now?
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 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.
Has care improved?
In February 2016 three care workers werejailed for abusing elderly people ( http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/three-disgraceful-care-workers-caught-7442918) at the Old Deanery Care Home in Essex. The convictions were as a result of whistle-blowers from this home contacting the Compassion In Care helpline.
These staff had lost their jobs after reporting their concerns to their employer, the Police, Social Services and the care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The whistle-blowers told us that despite all their efforts, the abuse and neglect continued. We put them in touch with BBC Panorama who subsequently sent an undercover reporter into the home and filmed the abuse. Whilst Panorama were in the home CQC carried out an inspection and judged the home to be meeting all standards.
Since Panorama was broadcast, over 3000 workers have contacted us to say they too had reported concerns only to find the abuse continuing, whilst they as whistle-blowers were subjected to such serious harassment they had been forced to resign. Our ‘Breaking the Silence’ (http://www.compassionincare.com/breakingthesilence) special reports will continue to highlight the plight of whistle-blowers, the lack of legal protection and the abuse and suffering of vulnerable people that results. We urge everyone to support our campaign for Edna’s Law https://www.change.org/p/protect-the-protectors-with-edna-s-law-need-one-law-for-all-whistleblowers).
We have continually exposed the care regulator CQC to be entirely ineffective in stopping poor care. In 2010 Compassion in Care and the magazine Private Eye carried out a joint investigation on a list of homes the CQC claimed to have closed. From a list of a hundred CQC finally was forced to admit that the true number was just TWO. Recently a further joint investigation with Private Eye has exposed dozens of care companies being registered as “New” with their care history archived by the CQC. But these homes are not new at all.
Our new report, CQC – An Ongoing Concern (https://www.change.org/p/protect-the-protectors-with-edna-s-law-need-one-law-for-all-whistleblowers) was published in February 2016. It shows the extent of this scam; when a member of the public is looking for a home for a loved one they are not only denied vital information about a home’s history but are being deliberately misled by the CQC. Some homes have been registered to the same owners up to three times and each time the public are told this is a new service.
Whistle-blowers have spoken out in some of these homes, and have risked their livelihoods in doing so, only to discover subsequently that their concerns were not acted on. Worse, they found that any reference to the existence of these reported concerns has been archived by the CQC.
It was recently reported that CQC spent £83000 on a single inspection, but when you cannot believe a word stated in a CQC inspection report then the true scale of waste is apparent. That money would be better spent on Edna’s Law.
Whistle-blowers and those who rely on them for protection deserve to be protected by law - they are certainly not protected by the CQC.
PS. Our new website http://www.thewhistler.org/for whistleblowers in all sectors is now live!