Hospital Dr News

Previous whistleblowers to be protected if they apply for another NHS job

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

Government plans would give job applicants a right to complain to an employment tribunal if they believed they had suffered discrimination.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wanted to create “a culture of openness” where staff feel they can speak up about patient safety.

Sir Robert Francis recommended the measure after a public inquiry into deaths at Mid Staffs, which concluded that more had to be done to protect whistleblowers.

The draft  guidelines, which have just been put out for consultation by the government, also say that discrimination of an applicant by an NHS worker should be treated like discrimination by the NHS body itself.

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.”

He said the changes would ensure “staff feel they are protected with the law on their side”.

There has been a growing focus on patient safety since the Mid Staffs Inquiry in 2013. One of the main findings of that report was that people within the NHS had known about the poor levels of care at the hospital, but did not raise the alarm for fear of persecution.

Since then, a number of initiatives have been launched to improve safety. In 2015, the government introduced guardians to support staff who wanted to speak up about concerns over patient safety.

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