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BMA Wales secures extra legal protection for junior doctor whistleblowers

Junior doctor whistleblowers in Wales have gained additional legal protections for when they raise concerns, under a new deal.

Trainee medical staff are already legally protected against unfair treatment – such as dismissal – by their employer, if they speak up about safety issues in the workplace during training.

But the BMA has now come to an arrangement with Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) that means they will in addition be protected from unfair treatment by the national NHS body if they raise concerns, despite HEIW not being their employer.

HEIW holds influence over junior doctors because it is the body that issues them with their training number, ‘without which their training and careers cannot progress’, said the BMA.

BMA Welsh junior doctors committee chair Dr Josie Cheetham said: ‘I regularly hear from trainees across Wales who wish to deliver the very best care for their patients in a safe environment. In order to do this, lessons must be learnt from medical errors, without blame.

‘All staff should feel able to speak up if they have any concerns regarding patient safety or their care so that these can be addressed.’

She added: ‘Trainees’ career progression is reliant on completing assessments and gaining training opportunities within their placements; they can therefore find themselves in a vulnerable position when it comes to speaking up.’

‘No trainee should have their career compromised as a direct consequence of raising patient safety concerns and this agreement is designed to acknowledge this and provide protections,’ she said.

NHS England recently launched a support system for staff who have whistleblown on unsafe practice

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the BMA struck a deal with NHS Education Scotland to legally protect junior doctor whistleblowers.