Raising concerns in pathology

This information sets out what to do if you have concerns about quality or safety in a pathology service.

All members are encouraged to raise and act on concerns about patient safety through local or regulatory mechanisms. The publication of the Francis report into the care of patients in Mid Staffordshire Hospital NHSFT has significantly and rightly emphasised the importance of everyone working within a healthcare system taking responsibility for acting on concerns that come to their attention relating to patient safety or quality of care.

All employers are required to have a mechanism for employees to raise genuine concerns about safety and their clients/patients/colleagues without fear of retribution. Guidance on establishing and reviewing such systems is available in the NHS's Freedom to Speak Up guidance and policy. 

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against or suppress the voice of those who raise legitimate concerns in the workplace in the public interest. The Act applies to people at work raising genuine concerns about crimes, civil offences, miscarriages of justice, dangers to health and safety or the environment and the cover up of any of these. It applies whether or not the information is confidential and whether the malpractice is occurring in the UK or overseas.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has published guidance on Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety and an associated toolkit to support clinicians. There are a number of confidential helplines available for NHS and social care staff and employers to raise concerns and establish good whistleblowing processes within organisations.

Who to call

  • NHS whistle-blowing confidential helpline: 08000 724725
  • NHS Scotland whistle-blowing confidential helpline: 0800 008 6112
  • Public Concern at Work whistle-blowing advice line: 020 7404 6609
  • GMC confidential helpline: 0161 923 6399
  • Royal College of Nursing (RCN) whistle-blowing helpline: 0345 772 6300
  • Patients Association helpline: 020 8423 8999
  • Reporting concerns to the Care Quality Commission (CQC): 03000 616161
  • Reporting concerns to Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC): 0800 3284218

The Professional Standards Department can assist healthcare organisations with external invited reviews of services focusing on standards of pathology practice.