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HCSA pursues law change for whistleblower trainees

Whistleblowing rights for doctors in training will be placed in the spotlight in March when for the first time ever HCSA will be represented at TUC Young Workers Conference.

Association Council member and trainee Dr Ashley Cowton will address delegates at the annual event in a step that underlines the importance of the HCSA’s TUC links.

Being an affiliate allows the Association to access to a vast range of services and support which non-affiliated trade unions are unable to match.

Apart from these expert services our affiliation gives us many opportunities via national conferences to determine TUC national policy, which as an organisation the TUC then campaigns for.

HCSA General Secretary Eddie Saville explains: “In recent months our junior doctor membership has increased markedly and not wanting to sit on our laurels, we wanted to make the most of our TUC affiliation, our growing membership and our campaigning ethos to put front and centre the issue of whistleblowing and its impact on junior doctors.”

This issue is one of great importance and was highlighted during the recent junior doctor’s contract dispute. While some steps have since been taken to resolve the issue, the motion calls for mandatory protection to be set out in statutory terms. We will keep members updated on the outcome of the debate.

The full text of the motion to be debated is:
“The notion of a whistle-blowing doctor having total protection from his or her employer if they speak out about a patient safety issue or any other wrong-doing for that matter seems obvious to all right-thinking working people.

“However, for a junior doctor, such protection is complicated by contractual technicality which has led to some hospital doctors being victimised, bullied and in some cases may find themselves without work simply for having the courage to place their patients’ safety above all else.

“A junior doctor’s contract is held by the employing Trust, but it is Health Education England who have the responsibility to allocate a National Training Number, oversee the training and offer the rotational placements a junior doctor must fulfil to complete their training. In effect it is HEE who hold all the cards but with no contractual accountability.
“This creates a flaw in the relationship that exists between all the parties involved. A flaw that leaves the junior doctor exposed and vulnerable. The HCSA believes that junior doctors who have the courage to speak out about patient safety issues must be properly protected and have statutory rights embedded into their terms and conditions.

“A junior doctor who blows the whistle on any wrongdoing should be celebrated and not victimised.

“Therefore we call on conference to send a clear message to all parties concerned in the welfare of junior doctors that nothing other than total protection for speaking out must be mandatory.”