Gags on NHS whistleblowers to be banned as Health Secretary insists staff won’t be silenced

Gagging orders which prevent whistleblowers from speaking out will be banned by the NHS, the Health Secretary says.

Matt Hancock said he was ‘determined to end’ the unfairness of making Health Service workers choose between raising concerns to safeguard patients or keeping their job.

It emerged last week that universities had spent nearly £90million on pay-offs with so-called gagging orders attached over the past two years.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, above, said he was ‘determined to end’ the unfairness of making Health Service workers choose between raising concerns to safeguard patients or keeping their job

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, above, said he was ‘determined to end’ the unfairness of making Health Service workers choose between raising concerns to safeguard patients or keeping their job

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, above, said he was ‘determined to end’ the unfairness of making Health Service workers choose between raising concerns to safeguard patients or keeping their job

In March the Government announced toughened legal measures to prevent employers using confidentiality agreements to stop workers from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination.

Mr Hancock’s pledge comes after a radiographer had her non-disclosure agreement (NDA) overturned by a tribunal judge.

‘Whistleblowers perform a vital and courageous service for the NHS and I want more people to feel they can put their head above the parapet,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

‘Settlement agreements that infringe on an individual’s right to speak out for the benefit of patients are completely inappropriate.

Judge Howard ruled that Mrs Allison should be allowed to proceed with her grievance without being gagged, a move her legal team believes could set a precedent over the legality of NDAs [File photo]

Judge Howard ruled that Mrs Allison should be allowed to proceed with her grievance without being gagged, a move her legal team believes could set a precedent over the legality of NDAs [File photo]

Judge Howard ruled that Mrs Allison should be allowed to proceed with her grievance without being gagged, a move her legal team believes could set a precedent over the legality of NDAs [File photo]

‘We stand with whistleblowers. Making someone choose between the job they love and speaking the truth to keep patients safe is an injustice I am determined to end.

‘But they must have a safe, open culture to do this in order to achieve the ambitions set out in the Long-Term Plan and make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world.’

Radiographer Sue Allison, 57, successfully claimed she had been required to sign an NDA without legal guidance after raising concerns about missed cancer diagnoses and care standards in a breast screening unit at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

Mrs Allison filed a grievance against the trust, alleging that she was ostracised and bullied after blowing the whistle in 2012, and had struggled to find another job since. 

The trust claimed her case could not be heard because she was bound by a NDA which stopped her from speaking about it at an employment tribunal last month.

However at an employment tribunal in Manchester, Judge Rebecca Howard found the NDA was invalid and that Mrs Allison had a ‘prima facie case of whistleblowing detriment’.

In March the Government announced toughened legal measures to prevent employers using confidentiality agreements to stop workers from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination [File photo]

In March the Government announced toughened legal measures to prevent employers using confidentiality agreements to stop workers from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination [File photo]

In March the Government announced toughened legal measures to prevent employers using confidentiality agreements to stop workers from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination [File photo]

Judge Howard ruled that Mrs Allison should be allowed to proceed with her grievance without being gagged, a move her legal team believes could set a precedent over the legality of NDAs.

Jahad Rahman, the solicitor acting for Mrs Allison, told the Telegraph: ‘As the NDA was rightly determined to be invalid, the saga of bullying, harassment and victimisation can now be heard at the future hearing.’

The trust said it was disappointed with the ruling and was considering its next course of action. It said that concerns raised by Mrs Allison have already been investigated.

Medical director David Walker said: ‘The trust considers that the confidentiality clauses included in that agreement were in accordance with the appropriate guidance on such clauses.’

photo link

(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply