NHS chief is urged to get tough with managers who attempt to gag whistleblowers

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 09 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6830
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

The chief executive of the NHS in England, David Nicholson, should rip up gagging orders imposed on NHS whistleblowers and take tough action against managers who have tried to silence them, a high profile whistleblower said last week.

David Bowles, former chairman of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and former chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council, told a conference on protecting whistleblowers that Nicholson, who is also chief executive of the NHS Commissioning Board, should investigate whether the use of gagging orders by senior managers “may equate to misconduct in public office to use public funds for the purpose of a cover up.”

The Department of Health’s circular 1999/198 said that under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 NHS trusts and health authorities should “guarantee that staff who raise concerns responsibly and reasonably will be protected …

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