Nearly two-thirds of nurses have raised concerns about patient safety with their employers but more than one in three say no action was taken as a result.

This is one of the worrying findings of a Royal College of Nursing survey of 5,000 of its members - announced ahead of the college’s annual congress this week.

The survey also revealed that 78 per cent of respondents said they would be concerned about “victimisation, personal reprisals or a negative effect on their career” if they were to report concerns to their employers.

One survey respondent said: “I have been deeply affected in a negative way for blowing the whistle. I have been told I will never get on in the trust because ‘I don’t go with the flow’.”

The findings come in the wake of the high-profile case of Margaret Haywood, who was struck off the nursing register last month for breaking patient confidentiality while filming undercover for the BBC Panorama programme, and also the Healthcare Commission’s report of failings at Mid Staffordshire trust.

After the Mid Staffordshire report was published, nursing staff who had worked at the trust told Nursing Times their attempts to raise concerns about chronic staff shortages had been ignored.

Coinciding with the publication of the survey findings, the RCN announced that it would be launching its own dedicated telephone line in a bid to allow nurses to talk in confidence about serious and immediate worries that patient safety is being put at risk in their workplace.

As revealed by Nursing Times in March, the Conservatives have also pledged to set up an anonymous hotline to allow staff to raise concerns directly with the Care Quality Commission.

A second survey - an ICM poll of 2,000 nurses commissioned by the RCN - found one in three respondents did not have access to a dedicated room for cleaning hospital equipment, leaving some with no choice but to use bathrooms instead.