On 10 February 2016, NHS Health Education England successfully argued that the careers of junior doctors fall outside of whistle-blowing protection. Astonishingly, they claimed that the denial of doctors this protection was a conscious choice made by Parliament. This was accepted by the Judge. Following the judgment, this exchange happened in the House Commons in late March 2016.
Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab):
The case of Dr Chris Day v. Health Education England has exposed a serious lacuna in the whistleblowing legislation. If a junior doctor blows the whistle to HEE, his training can be cut short by the HEE as a punishment, with legal impunity. This situation is not remedied under the new junior doctors contract, but I hope the hon. Lady will agree that it is something that deserves the attention of this House.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for making me aware of that case. Health Ministers are not due to appear in the House in the next short while, but he raises an important point about the issue of whistleblowing. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently gave a speech about patient safety, which included this idea of a safe space. I am not sure how this case would relate to that but, again, I will ensure that he is made aware of the hon. Gentleman’s comments.
You might think that the Chair of the Health Select Committee, who is also a doctor herself, might have something to say about this, the judgment sends a toxic message to junior doctors and presents a real threat to patient safety.
Below is a letter from the Chair of the Health Select Committee dated April 28 that states she “cannot comment” on this important issue.