By Anonymous whistle bower 28 July 2015
I am a NHS whistle blower.
I can honestly say that today, I’m better off Than I was 3 years ago , 2012 my money had run out , I’d been made redundant in 2010 , approx. 18 months after whistle blowing in the NHS .
There was nothing else to do other than sign on, (claim job seekers allowance) in 2012 Job seekers allowance was 71.00 per week, on top of that my rent (some of the rent was paid as was some of my council tax) Any short fall had to be made up by my son, who was studying via university grant and working when he wasn’t studying.
Living on £71.00 was to prove to be one of the biggest financial challenges life could bring.
It was broken down like this :
£10.00 water rates per week taken direct from benefits
£2.50 internet put away every week to meet DD payment
£5.00 telephone bill put away every week to meet DD payment
£20.00 gas per week
£15.00 electric per week
£2.50 TV license
This left me £16.00 per week for toiletries, food, clothes.
Barriers that stopped me from finding work straight away “I am a NHS whistle blower”
The very first time in my life ever, I prepared to sign on. I’m looked up and down as if I’m some sort of alien object, I’m told I have an adviser (the idea is they are supposed to help assist you find you work)
My name is called and I’m asked to take a seat, I hand over my CV, she asks “what have you done to find work? I explain I’ve scoured the Internet, knocked on doors, rang for jobs, that I have left a clear audit trail of job searches, applications. I show her the evidence
I explain I have a degree along with professional qualifications, she comes back to me very quickly and says, “So why can’t you find a job?”
I tell her I’m a whistle blower. That day a glimmer of hope in finding a little help and support left me. The words still echo in my ears “what is a whistle blower?”
Now everyone as their own view as to what is a whistle blower , I try to explain A whistle blower (whistle-blower or whistle blower) is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, dishonest, or not correct within an organisation that is either private or public.
She wasn’t the least bit interested, her reply was “sign here”
I quickly learnt especially in winter months, that it could, some weeks, be a case of “eat or heat”
I learnt that some supermarkets reduce their bread and fresh products around 8pm, so I could In fact buy a full weeks shop for much less if I waited until everything was reduced. I’d buy, pasta, baked beans, eggs, as cheap as possible. The market would finish 4 pm on Tuesday’s Friday & Saturday’s , this is when I bought my veg at the very last moment I could get carrots , turnip cauliflowers, leeks, potatoes one big bag full, for a pound.
I learnt that “shy bairn’s get nowt” I’d ask the butcher every week for bones, I would ask the supermarket girls “what time do you reduce your fresh items”
My survival tips were cook one large pan of broth a week (it costs about 2.00 and will last all week) Pasta bought in bulk could be mixed with many things to make many meals.
I did surveys online (and still do) and always asked for shopping vouchers. I struggled to keep the Internet, to some that might seem a luxury, but it’s absolutely needed to find work, to collect discount codes and coupons.
I did voluntary work at the citizens advice bureau, they had heated offices 🙂 it meant I learnt, I could help others and my CV wouldn’t have a gap in it. They also had a unlimited supply of tea and biscuits. They do incredible work and taught me “try never to judge”
In June 2013 almost a year of being classed as unemployed, I’d applied for a job in the private sector. It was on minimum wage, and bore absolutely no resemblance to my old NHS job , I didn’t get it, that was no surprise, what was a surprise was two days after being told no , I received a call , the voice told me their first choice left. I was second choice did I want the job? I took it without hesitation.
Minimum wage was an incredible pay cut, but nowhere near as bad as £71.00 per week.
It was the stepping stone to getting my life back.
So I started work, my plan was keep my head down, be nice to everyone and make the best of it.
In truth I had never stopped working ever, whistle blowing experience led me to others and to campaign work, it also led to a C4 news special, in Sept 2013 I took a day off work, went into London to be interviewed I spoke out about my experiences on behalf of many bereaved families who had lost loved ones in hospitals and whistle blowers.
8pm I came off set and the producer stopped me and asked if I would be OK, and did I realise I’d just outed myself on national TV as a whistle blower, did my new boss know?
I can honestly say it had never crossed my mind, the next day I went into work 2 hours late, my train from London had been delayed. I had just got sat down behind my desk only to look up and find my boss walking towards me, he was grinning. I looked him straight in the eye and said OK are you going to sack me, he said what? For being a whistle blower? No way. I’ve come over to shake your hand.
That was Sept 12th 2013 I am still in work 🙂 I wasn’t sacked , I was supported , I still campaign , my life is double sided now , half at a paid job (the job that pays the bills) the rest of my time , campaign work, surviving , helping as much as I can.
I on one hand have lost so much yet on the other in that process learnt so much. On that journey I have been fortunate to meet incredible people, make new friends, the person I consider one of my best friends is a journalist who I’m sure I’ll still be working with for many years to come .
Like many whistle blowers out there struggling I have learnt what it means to be on the bones of my backside it’s not a great position to be in, but it’s survivable 🙂
Over the past year we had the Francis review, a few weeks ago Jeremy Hunt made this statement.
“Sir Robert confirmed the need for further change in his report today. He said he heard again and again of horrific stories of people’s lives being destroyed because they tried to do the right thing for patients: people losing their jobs; being financially ruined; brought to the brink of suicide; and family lives being shattered. Eminent and respected clinicians had their reputations maligned.
There are stories of fear, bullying, being ostracised, marginalisation as well as psychological and physical harm. There are reports of a culture of “delay, defend and deny” with “prolonged rants” directed at people branded “snitches, troublemakers and backstabbers” and then blacklisted from future employment in the NHS as the system closed ranks.”
Like the Dr’s shouting out “I’m in work Jeremy” There are many shouting out #WearestillhereJeremy! The truth that so many have endured will one day come out…….
The government have yet to provide a real independent solid solution.
So for all of you still struggling, take every day as it comes and remember all you did was tell the truth, you are not alone, there are many of us….