Whistleblowers should be protected when applying for NHS roles

Government plans include measures to ensure NHS whistleblowers are protected against discrimination should they wish to work for the health service again.

The draft plans mean applicants will be give the right to appeal a decision to the employment tribunal if they believe they have suffered discrimination as a result of previous whistleblowing practices.

The news comes after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged to create ‘a culture of openness’ to encourage staff to seek up about safety concerns. However, Sir Robert Francis, who led the inquiry into the Mid Staffs scandal, warned that staff often faced bullying and isolation if they tried to speak out and that staff struggled to find new jobs in the NHS.

Hunt said: "Today we move another step closer to 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."

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action against Medical Accidents, welcomed the plans as ‘a move in the right direction, but maintained: ”It is clearly unfair that staff who have been forced to become 'whistleblowers' should be discriminated against when they seek alternative jobs.

"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.

"So far we have not seen a joined-up approach to supporting and protecting staff from unfair treatment when they try to do the right thing and end up having to be whistleblowers."

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