Government publish plans to extend protections for NHS whistleblowers

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

New plans published on 20 March 2017 by the Department of Health will prohibit discrimination against whistleblowers when they apply for jobs with NHS employers. The plans will strengthen the legal recourse whistleblowers can access if they believe they have been discriminated against because they appear to have blown the whistle. Appropriate remedies will be sought if their complaint is upheld.

Sir Robert Francis recommended these changes at the Freedom to Speak up review, which found several people struggled to find employment in the NHS after making protected disclosures about patient safety.

The consultation, Protecting whistleblowers seeking jobs in the NHS, seeks views on the draft regulations that aim to:

  • give the applicant a right to complain to an employment tribunal if they have been discriminated against because it appears they have previously blown the whistle
  • set out a timeframe in which a complaint to the tribunal must be lodged
  • set out the remedies that the tribunal may or must award if a complaint is upheld
  • make provision as to the amount of compensation that can be awarded
  • give the applicant a right to bring a claim in the county court or the High Court for breach of statutory duty in order to, among other things, restrain or prevent discriminatory conduct
  • treat discrimination of an applicant by a worker or agent of the prospective employer (NHS body) as if it was discrimination by the NHS body itself

The consultation is now open and will run for 8 weeks, closing on 12 May 2017. If anyone would like to have their say on the draft regulations then please go to the website

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