NHS: Disclosure of Information

Health written question – answered on 14th January 2014.

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Photo of Adrian Sanders Adrian Sanders Liberal Democrat, Torbay

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will bring forward legislative proposals to make it a criminal offence to suspend NHS staff for raising clinical concerns.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

This Government have no legislative plans to make it a criminal offence to suspend national health service staff for raising clinical concerns. Decisions regarding suspension of staff are made at a local level by the employing organisation.

However it is absolutely critical that all staff working within the NHS feel able to speak up and raise concerns about patient safety and that NHS organisations take concerns seriously and act on them.

We expect all NHS organisations to have in place whistleblowing policies that are compliant with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and best practice guidance. We have also made it clear to NHS organisations that they should have policies and procedures in place which support and encourage staff to raise legitimate concerns, and which actively promote the benefits of openness and transparency, driving up a safer NHS where patients can be confident of receiving high-quality care.

The current legal protection available to whistleblowers is strong. We secured a Government amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to strengthen protections available to whistleblowers. We further enhanced these by amendments to the NHS Constitution, making it clear to NHS staff what their legal rights are and emphasising the responsibility placed on Trusts contracted to provide NHS services to respond through the pledge.

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