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Junior doctors win greater protection to act as whistleblowers, judges rule

Dr Chris Day describes the victory as 'huge' 

Saturday 06 May 2017 00:10 BST
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(File photo)
(File photo) (Getty Images)

Junior doctors who want to blow the whistle and raise concerns about poor practice should be given greater protection, judges have ruled.

After a case at the Court of Appeal, a new interpretation of employment law will be required to maxmise protection for medics.

It follows a case brought by Dr Chris Day, who claimed his career had been destroyed after he raised the issue of staff shortages.

He had notified managers at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London that he was the only doctor covering an 18-bed intensive care unit.

He claimed that after doing so Health Education England (HEE), the body responsible for training and workforce development in the NHS, made false allegations against him and deleted his doctor training number, making it impossible for him to further his career.

More than £140,000 was donated through crowdfunding for Dr Day’s case and after taking the issue to court he was told HEE was not subject to whistleblowing law.

Judges have now challenged the ruling and the case will be sent back to tribunal.

It will then be decided whether HEE had broken the terms and conditions of Dr Day's contract and therefore be subject to whistleblowing law.

Dr Day described the victory as “huge” for patients and the transparency of the NHS.

“The Court of Appeal has found that the arguments used by the Government agency Health Education England to deprive junior doctors of statutory whistleblowing protection were legally flawed,” he told The Independent.

“It was these arguments that have also prevented my whistleblowing case being heard for over two years. I hope that people can see more than a win here and are able to appreciate who has opposed junior doctors having statutory whistleblowing protection and why they would hold such a position?”

In a statement Tim Johnson/Law, the firm that represented Dr Day, said the ruling was a “great achievement” for everyone involved.

“After an appeal process which has taken two years Dr Day has held HEE to account. There will now be full disclosure of the relevant documents and the evidence will be heard in full at a preliminary hearing to determine whether junior doctors have whistleblowing protection against HEE,” they said.

Public concern at work, a whistleblowing charity, said Dr Day’s victory was a victory for all.

"I would like to congratulate Chris Day on what is an amazing achievement both personally and for his fellow professionals, but also a major positive shift in the protection afforded to whistleblowers across all industries,” Cathy James, the Chief Executive of Public Concern at Work said.

“We have always said that effective protection for whistleblowers will result in more concerns about wrongdoing, risk or malpractice being effectively raised and ultimately a safer, better and fairer society,” she added.

The Independent has contacted HEE for a comment but none had been received at the time of publication.

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