The recent Francis Report into how poor care at Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust was allowed to happen, was another lesson in just how valuable whistleblowers are to society. And yet as a society, we don’t seem to care that many struggle to survive.
Whistleblowers perform a vital role in today’s world. They alert the public to financial fraud, abuse in institutions and potential environmental disasters. For years, the NHS ignored attempts by whistleblowers to raise concerns about care that was “substandard, and sometimes unsafe”, while we now know that the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 could have been prevented had BP listened to just one of the many warnings coming from whistleblowers inside the company.
As well as preventing damaging incidents like these, whistleblowers can also save companies and organisations some serious cash. In recent years, private sector whistleblowers have alerted their bosses to more serious economic crimes than were spotted by all the “official” fraud-spotters combined – the internal auditors, corporate security personnel and law enforcers – saving on average $3m per case.
So these people prevent disasters and save money; what’s not to admire? In fact, 80% of people in the UK report that they would speak out if they witnessed serious corruption in their organisation.