latest health care news

23.09.16

Junior doctors offered new whistleblowing protection

Trainee doctors who believe they have suffered negative consequences at work for whistleblowing will now be able to issue a direct legal challenge to Health Education England (HEE).

HEE has written employers in the NHS to notify them of the new specifications, which emerged as “a separate issue” over the negotiation process.

Currently, trainees cannot take whistleblowing detriment claims against HEE, only against individual trusts, in the Employment Tribunal because HEE is not classified as an employer.

The letter said: “We are happy that this resolution has been found because even if the numbers of cases are low, and the circumstances rare, the effect of the perception that HEE’s actions could not be challenged is counterproductive.”

The resolution, agreed between HEE, NHS Employers and the BMA, grants trainees the third party right to bring claims for breach of contract directly against HEE.

The agreement is separate from the new junior doctors’ contract, which is still the subject of fierce controversy.The BMA has announced a programme of five-day strikes between now and December after voting to reject the contract, despite warnings that the action could compromise patient safety.

Better protection for NHS whistleblowers, including appointing a national guardian, was a key recommendation of the Francis report, with several measures announced this April.

However, the landmark measures suffered a setback this year when Dame Eileen Sills, the first national guardian, stood down after just two months, saying the post was incompatible with her role as chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS FT. Dr Henrietta Hughes has now been appointed to the post.

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