Jobs protection for NHS staff who blow whistle over unsafe hospitals

Jobs protection for NHS staff who blow whistle over unsafe hospitals

In a 2015 report titled Freedom to Speak Up Review, Sir Robert found almost a third of the 19,000 NHS staff questioned who had raised a concern felt unsafe afterwards, and more than 1,000 said they had felt victimised. They will be able to go to an employment tribunal or the courts if they believe they have been refused a post because of whistleblowing.

NHS whistleblowers could be protected against discrimination if they apply to work for the health service again.

They aim to establish a timeframe in which a complaint to the employment tribunal must be lodged, detail the remedies which the tribunal may award, and make provisions for the amount of compensation that can be awarded.

They state that applicants will be given the right to bring a claim in the County Court or High Court for breach of statutory duty to "restrain or prevent discriminatory conduct", the Department of Health said.

Sir Robert's inquiry began in 2013 amid serious concerns on patient safety in the aftermath of the Mid Staffordshire Trust scandal, where hundreds of hospital patients died as a result of errors in care.

Discrimination of an applicant by an NHS worker of the prospective employer should be treated as if it was discrimination by the NHS body itself.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the plans represented another move towards creating "a culture of openness in the NHS, where people who have the courage to speak up about patient safety concerns are listened to, not vilified".

"These welcome changes will prohibit whistleblowers being discriminated against when they seek re-employment in the NHS, ultimately ensuring staff feel they are protected with the law on their side", he said. "Flagging of patient safety concerns is known to improve patient safety".

In 2015, the government introduced plans to appoint guardians to support staff who wanted to speak up about concerns over patient safety.

"However, this is a symptom of a much deeper cultural problem in the NHS which will not be solved with tinkering with rules here and there".

Past year a former NHS human resources director told The Telegraph that staff records were being used to blacklist whistleblowers.

The consultation on the first draft of the proposals will run for eight weeks and closes on 12 May 2017.