New laws proposed to protect NHS whistleblowers from victimisation and discrimination

New laws are under consideration by the Department of Health which will be aimed at preventing NHS employers from victimising whistleblowers when they are in the process of applying for re-employment.

As the law presently stands, if a potential NHS employer rejects your application for re-employment because they have reason you were a previous whistleblower then you have no right to take them to an employment tribunal for compensation.

This is thought to currently hinder cases of medical negligence as well as other NHS issues, as employees are concerned that if they speak out about what they witness then their career prospects will be damaged.

Those that work in the healthcare industry have made it clear that there is no secret that people believe they are constantly rejected for NHS jobs due to past whistleblowing incidents.

The proposed new law will seek to prevent any form of ‘retaliation’ by NHS employers during the recruitment process, so that a claim can be brought because “it appears” that the job applicant has previously been a whistleblower. As yet it is not completely clear what “it appears” means in this context, but it presumably covers certain situations in which the applicant was not a whistleblower but the potential new employer thinks they are.


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So in the future when this new law is introduced then prospective NHS re-employment applicants may have a case for whistleblower compensation if they suspect they have been rejected by a potential employer because they previously blew the whistle – even if you have not.

The new law will give job candidates the right to make a claim in the County Court or the High Court – which could be a game-changer in both medical negligence and employment law if it is extended to cover all NHS workers and not just job applicants.

The consideration of the new law is a formal recognition on behalf of the Department of Health that the NHS has one of the highest instances of whistleblowing. The Government is looking to fill a gap in the law, but should ideally go much further in order to deal with what is thought to be a widespread vilification and discrimination of whistleblowers throughout the NHS.

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