Thinking of whistleblowing? Get legal advice

Posted: 25th November 2015

WhistleWorkplace whistleblowers play an essential role in society and are protected by law. However, one striking case has underlined that confidentiality rules still apply and that you would be wise to take legal advice before expressing your concerns.

A nurse was anxious about standards of patient care at the home where she worked and reported her employers to the local authority. She was dissatisfied with the council’s investigation and a dossier was passed to a trade union representative. However, the latter was concerned to note that the dossier identified certain patients by name and included confidential details of their medical conditions.

The nurse was subsequently suspended from the profession for 12 months by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). There had also been an incident in which she failed accurately to complete medication records, but her misconduct was not at that stage considered so serious as to justify striking her off.

However, she had since failed to engage with the NMC and there was no evidence of any regret or remorse on her part. Patient confidentiality was a fundamental tenet of the nursing profession and the NMC found no evidence that she had developed insight into her wrongdoing. Repetition of her misconduct would put patients at risk of harm and a striking off order was thus the only option.