Our barrister called us -the BUPA 7 - the perfect whistleblowers because we did everything right. Yet the law failed us. We reported our concerns about the abuse by staff of elderly patients in their care to our employer first, and when no action was taken we went to the regulator. This meant our employer knew we were the whistleblowers and our lives were made hell.
The regulator carried out an investigation and published a report which upheld the allegations but by this time we no longer had a job and were forced to seek the protection of the Public Interest Disclosure Act. However the employment tribunal did not admit the regulators report, which upheld our case, but proceeded to judge the disclosures as our employer denied they were true. This resulted in the disclosures we had risked everything to expose being summarised in general terms.
To us, the elderly people who had suffered were lost in the legal process that should have exposed their suffering. Other staff involved in the abuse and in driving us from our jobs continued to be employed and some were promoted, the company director who we appealed to for help went on to advise the government on elderly care and was awarded an OBE for services to the care industry.
The seven whistleblowers would ring up for an advertised job, but as soon as we gave our name would be asked, are you one of them BUPA people? Sorry the job has just gone.
I am the founder of the Charity Compassion in Care and have written a book called, Beyond the Façade, which looks in detail at why the law failed. Edna (one of the patients) was not protected and that is why I want a new law to protect whistleblowers - because those who pay the highest price are the victims of silence - for Edna who suffered so much.
In the Media
Whistleblower's safety net 'endangering society with false promises' , The Guardian, Friday, February 15th 2013