Health Secretary Matt Hancock vows ban on NHS gagging orders that stop staff blowing the whistle

Posted On: 
23rd April 2019

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he is "determined" to end the use of gagging clauses that stop NHS staff from speaking out.

The Health Secretary said whistleblowers provide 'a vital and courageous service for the NHS'.

The Cabinet minister said whistleblowers provide "a vital and courageous service for the NHS" and made clear he would act to ensure they could "put their head above the parapet" if they spotted wrongdoing.

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are used in a string of employment disputes, and compel those who agree them to keep certain information confidential.

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But Mr Hancock warned that NDAs in the health service could be used to silence staff who raise fears over patient safety as well as workplace bullying or harassment.

"We stand with whistleblowers," he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

"Making someone choose between the job they love and speaking the truth to keep patients safe is an injustice I am determined to end.

"Settlement agreements that infringe on an individual’s right to speak out for the benefit of patients are completely inappropriate."

Mr Hancock added: "Whistleblowers perform a vital and courageous service for the NHS and I want more people to feel they can put their head above the parapet.

"But they must have a safe, open culture to do this in order to achieve the ambitions set out in the Long-Term Plan and make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world."

The move follows a push from the Government to clamp down on gagging orders in the wake of
controversy about their use in a wide range of industries.

Theresa May in March vowed to tweak legislation to ensure the workers who sign NDAs canotnot be prevented from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination to the police.

Firms will also be required to give a "clear, written description of rights" before making employees sign up to a gagging order.