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Whistleblowing doctor offered £90,000 ‘gag’

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A Welsh doctor who raised concerns about the competency of her colleague was offered a £90,000 pay-off if she agreed to a “gagging order” clause contained in her tribunal settlement.

Dr Lucy Dawson raised the alarm at Abergavenny’s Nevill Hall Hospital when she noticed the poor care being exercised on a seriously injured young patient. She claimed that without intervention the patient would have died due to negligence.

But employers failed to act within the correct guidelines when Dr Dawson approached them with her problem. Managers apparently took no statement about the matter and failed to uphold confidentiality requirements by telling the shamed colleague, who later became Dr Dawson’s Line Manager.

When she took the matter to an Employment Tribunal earlier this year, Gwent NHS Healthcare Trust offered her a £90,000 settlement but demanded she adhere to a confidentiality clause. Dr Dawson refused and is now employed at a new hospital.

“I would like the Aneurin Bevan Health Board to make a public statement that gagging clauses will not be used in future and that whistleblowers will be protected,” Dr Dawson said this week.

She has received wide-spread support for bringing the trust’s action to light and the Assembly Government has claimed it expects NHS organisations to have a “culture of openness”.

“The Public Interest Disclosure Act gives significant statutory protection to employees who disclose information reasonably and responsibly in the public interest and are victimised as a result,” added an Assembly Government spokesman.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board, which took over the responsibilities of Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust in October, has declined comment but assured employees it will not enforce such confidentiality agreements.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

January 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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