Whistling against the wind?
In 2013, local newspaper Lancaster Guardian published an account of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust having adopted the terms of the “Speak Out Safely” campaign. I was invited to express my support for the move and duly grunted a few words about how welcome this would be.
This initiative (yet another!) by “Nursing Times” set out to protect the rights of NHS whistleblowers and promote a more positive perception. Arising from recent exposures of the treatment of NHS whistleblowers, an accepted definition has become established. Accordingly, a whistleblower is held to be “one who raises or reports concerns relating to the standard and safety of care provided to patients.” It can be seen that the intention is to describe one who draws attention to the wrongdoing of others. A great deal of work and trouble has been done to promote this image over and above the negative connotations found in other terms such as “grass”, “snitch”, or “tell-tale”.
As a result, it was less than satisfying to find myself described in the article as “self-confessed” whistleblower. “Confess” is generally understood to mean “admit that one has committed a crime or done something wrong” or perhaps “acknowledge something reluctantly, typically because one feels slightly ashamed or embarrassed”.
When I pointed out their error to the Editor and Chief Reporter, I got no reply at all. I wonder sometimes if those who write the news ever bother to read any.
Even today, ‘Thesaurus.com’ offers the following synonyms for ‘Blow the Whistle’: “Finger, Rat, Sell down the River, Sell Out, Snitch, Spill the Beans, Squawk, Squeal, Weasel“!!!
Russell Dunkeld : Proud & Self-Proclaimed Whistleblower.