ONE in four hospital staff in East Lancashire would ‘not feel safe’ in raising a concern with their bosses, a survey suggested.

Patient champion Russ McLean said he was not surprised by the results of the NHS Staff Survey, and called for more to be done to protect whistleblowers in the health service.

The survey results also suggested 59 per cent of staff at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust would be ‘confident of their concerns being addressed’, while just 32 per cent felt there was enough staff to enable them to ‘do their job properly’.

Although these scores have improved slightly on last year, and are broadly in line with other trusts, the findings were highlighted by bosses in recent board papers.

The three measures all relate to the issues raised in the Francis Report, which revealed a catalogue of mistreatment and neglect of patients at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009.

Russ McLean, of the East Lancashire-based Patient Voices Group, said: “Staff speak to me on a regular basis and many would not be comfortable with raising concerns because these things follow you around in the NHS apparently.

“You get labelled as a trouble-maker.

“I’m also concerned about the staff numbers.”

A recent national survey by the Royal College of Nurses union suggested a quarter of those who reported having raised an alarm about patient care had then been ‘discouraged or warned off’.

Ian Brandwood, director of human resources at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The staff survey results show a continued improvement in the levels of staff engagement and this builds on the progress we have made over the last three years.

“We work in partnership with our local trade unions to try to ensure that our staff feel valued and that they can raise concerns, in the knowledge that any concerns raised will be responded to and followed up appropriately.”