House of Commons Library

NHS whistleblowing procedures in England

Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This Commons Library briefing sets out the current rights and procedures for NHS staff to raise concerns about safety, malpractice or wrongdoing at work (popularly known as “whistleblowing”).

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Serious failures in care, such as those at Stafford Hospital before 2009, have focussed attention on NHS whistleblowing policies, and the need to ensure that staff feel able to raise concerns (and that reported concerns are acted on). This Commons Library briefing sets out the current rights and procedures for NHS staff in England to raise concerns about safety, malpractice or wrongdoing at work. It also refers to guidance on where wider disclosure of concerns may be appropriate.

This Commons Library briefing also provides an overview of statutory protections for staff but further information on this, and the issue of 'gagging clauses' in compromise agreements, can be found in the Library briefing, Whistleblowing and gagging clauses. NHS compliants procedures for patients and the public are covered in the Library briefing NHS complaints procedures in England. The details of other organisations that can provide advice to NHS employees who want to raise concerns, and links to some of the relevant guidance and  professional standards for the various healthcare professions, can be found at the end of this note.

Employment law and policy (of which whistleblowing law and policy is a part), and health policy, are devolved matters in Northern Ireland. In Scotland and Wales employment law is not devolved but health policy is. Decisions about implementation of whistleblowing policies in the NHS in each part of the UK are therefore a matter for each of the devolved governments.

Commons Briefing papers SN06490

Author: Tom Powell

Topics: Health services, Health staff and professions

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