Government to protect NHS whistleblowers from employment discrimination

NHS whistleblowers will be protected from discrimination when applying for another job in the health service under draft regulations introduced by the Government on Monday.

Part of efforts to make the NHS "the safest healthcare system in the world", the proposed powers mean NHS employers will not lawfully be able to discriminate against job applicants who have previously blown the whistle on potential risks to patient safety.

Any applicants who face discrimination will get legal protection and NHS employers will face tough penalties if applicants' complaints are upheld.

The move is part of the Government's wider drive to develop a culture of openness and transparency within the NHS.

Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Care, said: "These important measures should ensure staff can raise concerns knowing they are protected by the law and that their career in the NHS will not be damaged as a result of wanting to do the right thing.

"For too long we have failed to protect those who are brave enough to speak out when others won't.

"We want to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world so we must build a culture of openness and transparency among our staff."

The changes were a key recommendation in Sir Robert Francis' Freedom to Speak Up Review, which found a number of people struggled to find employment in the NHS after making protected disclosures about patient safety.

The measures sit alongside existing initiatives, which includes a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian role within every NHS organisation as well as nationwide pilots to support NHS whistleblowers and help them back into work.

Subject to parliamentary approval on March 19, the regulations will give applicants a right to complain to an employment tribunal if they have been discriminated against because it appears they have previously spoken out.

It will also enable compensation to be awarded if a complaint is upheld.

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