§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to ensure that district general nurses have protection if they blow the whistle on care homes that are suspected of failing standards. 
§ Jacqui Smith
[holding answer 26 March 2002]: We expect a climate of openness and dialogue in the national health service and a culture and environment that encourages staff to feel able to raise concerns about healthcare matters sensibly and responsibly without fear of victimisation.
Guidance issued in Health Service Circular (HSC) 1999/198 on 27 August 1999 reinforced the above message. The HSC stated that all NHS trusts and health authorities are expected to issue guidance to staff so that they know how to raise concerns in a reasonable and responsible way. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) gives significant statutory protection to employees who disclose information reasonably and responsibly in the public interest and are victimised as a result.
All employees would be protected for raising concerns with their employees under PIDA. District general nurses who may be employed either by the NHS, a local authority or the private sector can now raise concerns with the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) who is responsible for inspecting the quality of service provided in a variety of care establishments.