HEALTHWATCH Devon is calling on local health workers to be honest about our health system.

There is a fear within some parts of the NHS which deters staff from speaking out when things go wrong.

A national review called "Freedom to Speak Up" aims to tackle this fear and create a culture of openness and honesty within the NHS.

The review is being led by Sir Robert Francis QC whose inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust revealed shocking neglect and mistreatment of patients. Speaking at the launch of his review Sir Robert Francis QC said:

"Every time a whistleblower is treated badly, many people are deterred from speaking up – the Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry showed the appalling consequences for patients when there is a culture of denial.”

Healthwatch Devon claims that Devon’s NHS staff need similar encouragement to speak out about things that worry them. "We're fortunate that Devon has some really dedicated NHS staff" said Miles Sibley, Executive Director of Healthwatch Devon.

"But we have recently heard from some who are worried about patient safety and service quality. In three separate cases, people coming to us have been afraid that if they go public, their jobs might be at risk. We believe that those who speak up should be praised for the contribution they are making to patient safety, not fearful of the repercussions."

Health workers can feed in to the Review via a confidential survey, and need to get their responses in by the 10th September. Healthwatch Devon is also keen to hear from local NHS staff.

"If you're feeding in to the national Review, let us have your views as well" says Miles Sibley. "We'll treat them as confidential, and it can help us to improve our picture of the challenges faced by NHS staff in Devon".