Case study

  • Date:
  • Category:
    Concern involving agency staff
    Serious concern requiring Stage 2 investigation


A bank nurse on a care of the elderly ward raised concerns with the bank about the treatment and neglect of patients, and said they did not want to return to work on the ward.  The concerns included staff shouting, using abusive language, poor basic hygiene, and falsification of records.
The manager of the nursing bank raised these concerns with senior nursing staff in the board.  The board started a full investigation under stage 2 of the whistleblowing procedure.

The senior nurse in the board involved in the investigation met with the bank manager, the bank nurse and their Royal College of Nursing (RCN) representative.  The bank nurse was provided with assurance that they had done the right thing by reporting their concerns.  They reviewed the nurse's experiences on the ward, and explored what support was in place for them through the whistleblowing procedure.  The RCN representative also provided support to ensure they could continue to work for the bank.

An investigator was identified from another department who considered the scope of the investigation, and established roughly how long it would take to complete.  It was clear that the investigation would require several members of staff to be interviewed, often with representatives of professional bodies.  As a result, it was anticipated from the outset that the timescales for the investigation would be longer than 20 working days.  The bank nurse and their manager were informed of the likely timescales for the investigation within 20 working days of when they had raised the concern, and were kept informed every 20 working days of what progress had been made with the investigation.  

The investigation found that some staff had failed to follow safe practice.  It upheld the majority of the concerns raised by the bank nurse, though it was noted that poor practice was more significant when staff were unobserved.  Further action was taken against these staff through the board’s HR procedures.  

The investigation also identified that staff sickness absence was an issue in the ward, that staff documented care when no care had been given, and that this reflected a wider culture that lacked compassion and respect for patients.  

The board put in an immediate action plan, and wrote to all the staff involved.  They also apologise to the patients and their families.  They write to the bank nurse to thank them for raising the initial concerns, and provide a full update on what action had been taken, while withholding appropriate information in relation to the HR action.  The bank nurse is also signposted to the INWO if they do not think that this concern has been resolved.

Updated: January 9, 2020