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Protections for NHS whistleblowers will stop blacklisting

NHS whistleblowers will be able to take employers to a tribunal if they are not offered a job because they have spoken up in the past, under draft legislation being introduced today.

The changes were recommended in 2015 in Sir Robert Francis’s Freedom to Speak Up review which found that many people struggled to find new employment in the NHS after raising safety concerns.

The legislation will set out a timeframe in which any complaint to the employment tribunal must be lodged as well as remedies and compensation levels. It will treat discrimination against an applicant “by a worker or agent of the prospective NHS employer as if it was discrimination by the NHS employer itself”. Caroline Dinenage, care minister, said: “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 review said that the NHS was effectively a monopoly employer in many fields. It had met people concerned that they had been blacklisted.

Minh Alexander, a psychiatrist who raised concerns about patient deaths, said that the announcement was “window dressing”. “It is unlikely that many broke, unemployed whistleblowers could afford to litigate effectively or at all,” she added.

Samantha Mangwana, an employment lawyer and partner at CM Murray, said that the legislation was “a positive development” but limited in scope.

Samantha Mangwana, published in The Times

By Kat Lay