In Britain, Margaret Haywood’s whistleblowing became a hot issue again last week after the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) decided that her secrete filming was a “major breach” of the nursing code of conduct.   Ms. Haywood, a nurse at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Bringhton, secretly filmed neglectful behavior of nurses toward elderly patients in the hospital.  The purpose of her film was to inform the public about how badly the nurses treated their patients.  A social investigative TV program in BBC, Panorama, aired her film in July 2005.

After the program broadcasted, the conditions in the hospital improved for patients.  However, Ms Haywood lost her job and nursing license because she violated patient confidentiality rules.  Two weeks ago, the NMC confirmed that her filming was a breach of the nursing code of conduct.  After the NMC decision, British news media and citizens criticized the decision and British whistleblowing policy.  Thousands of people have signed a petition in support of Ms. Haywood.  On April 27, 2009, the Panorama program in BBC broadcasted a new episode, “Who’d be an NHS Whistleblower,” about Ms. Haywood’s whistleblowing and British whistleblower protection. 

Even though Britain has a comprehensive law for whistleblower protection (The Public Interest Disclosure Act), Haywood’s case shows the protection might not be enough and whistleblowing is not a pleasant job at all. 

You can find more about British whistleblower protection on the International Page of the National Whistleblowers Center by clicking here.

Articles about Haywood’s case

“Hospital Care Fails Elderly,” BBC News, July 19th, 2005.
James, Cathy, “When the Whistle Blows,” The Guardian, April 25th, 2009.
“Call to Protect Whistle-blowers,” BBC News, April 27th, 2009.
Staines, Richard, “Whistleblower Petition Gets 25,000 Signature, Nursing Times, April 28th, 2009.