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Care professionals have long been criticised for not raising concerns about poor care, or for not responding when people escalate concerns to them. The criticism has risen to a crescendo recently, with inquiries into failings at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, Great Ormond Street (Baby P) and in the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. Currently, healthcare institutions and regulators rely on rhetoric, governance mechanisms, and the threat of punishment to make people take action. However, these methods have proved to be of limited effectiveness, not least because people fear that they will suffer personally and professionally if they take steps to report concerns about the behaviour of their colleagues, or about care standards within their workplace.

This ethics support project will develop a new approach to support local students and junior health professionals to raise concerns about quality of care that might arise at some point in their careers. First, discussions will be held with a number of junior professionals and students to explore the barriers that they identify as preventing them from raising concerns in practice. Secondly, a documentary film will be produced. This film will document a range of experiences of local health professionals who have acted on their concerns, in ways that are tailored to address the barriers identified, both in the earlier discussions with junior professionals, and in a literature review. Once produced, this film will be widely disseminated amongst health professionals and embedded within medical education in Oxfordshire.

This ethics support activity is supported by a grant from the Nuffield Oxford Hospitals Fund. For more information about this project, please contact