More protection for junior doctors

Safeguards to support whistleblowing.

Extra legal protections are now in place for junior doctors and other postgraduate trainees who speak up if they are unfairly treated by their training body as a result of whistleblowing.

The new provisions give postgraduate trainees in NHS Scotland legal protection if they are subjected to detrimental treatment by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) for raising any concerns.

This is in addition to existing protections they have in whistleblowing law if they are unfairly treated by a Health Board as a result.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“It is crucial that people at all stages of their careers feel able to raise their concerns without fear of punishment or retribution. That is why we took steps to introduce new legally binding protections for doctors in training and other postgraduate trainees who whistleblow in Scotland.

“This builds on a range of measures already in place across NHS Scotland, including the whistleblowing alert and advice service. We are also working to have the new role of Independent National Whistleblowing Officer in place as soon as possible. We anticipate this will be by the end this year.

“All of this is contributing to an increasingly honest and open reporting culture within our NHS.”

Dr Adam Collins, Chair of BMA Scotland’s Junior Doctors Committee said:

“This agreement extends the legal protection whistleblowing junior doctors could expect from an employer, to cover them from any potential detriment by NES. This is vital for junior doctors, whose careers are uniquely under the dual influence of both NES and their Health Board.

“Having the confidence that you can safely speak up when things are going wrong is absolutely vital to patient safety. It is incredibly important that potential whistleblowers are confident they will be protected against unfair treatment from both their employer and their training body if they feel they need to speak out.

“I am delighted that the BMA has been able to secure this agreement with NES and the Scottish Government which will be of great benefit to both junior doctors and the patients we care for.”

Professor Stewart Irvine, Medical Director of NHS Education for Scotland said:

“We are pleased to have been able to work in partnership to deliver this important protection for doctors training in Scotland. It is essential they can raise concerns about issues in their workplace affecting the public, and concerns about patient safety, confident that they will be fully protected, without fear of adverse treatment by either their employer or by NES.”


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