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Analysis: ‘This case has enormous implications’

All GPs are required to enter a contract with the relevant health board. The definition of ‘worker’ under the Employment Rights Act 1996 includes a person providing services under a contract entered into by him/her with a local health board.

Therefore, GPs have the right to bring a whistleblowing claim against a health board or a CCGs (previously PCTs) as they are considered to be ‘workers’ and as such, they have a right not to be subjected to a detriment on the grounds of whistleblowing.

If Dr Ferguson wins her claim, then GPs, including partners will be entitled to bring whistleblowing claims against a health board if, as a result of disclosures to the board, they are subjected to a detriment by both the board’s actions and its failure to act to prevent reprisals from colleagues.

This case will have enormous implications for the GP profession as it is likely to encourage other GPs, including partners of GP practices to ‘blow the whistle’.

Furthermore, health boards and CCGs will need to ensure that they deal more openly with whistleblowing complaints; that they properly investigate concerns and take steps to prevent GPs from being subjected to reprisals from their colleagues.