The government must urgently review protection for whistleblowers in the wake of a series of cases involving nurses and other healthcare workers, a campaign group has said.
The charity Public Concern at Work is concerned that an appeal court ruling means employers are not required to protect nurse whistleblowers from harassment by colleagues.
The court heard that three nurses who worked at a walk-in centre run by NHS Manchester suffered personal insults and threats, after they raised concerns a colleague was lying about his qualifications and experience.
Court papers revealed the nurses received daily personal insults and one received an anonymous phone call threatening to burn down her house.
However, the Court of Appeal ruled employers are “not liable for retaliatory acts of other workers”.
Public Concern at Work chief executive Cathy James said the ruling revealed that current legislation did not provide adequate protection to whistleblowers and should be reviewed.
“This ruling means that an employer who does not do enough to protect staff from retaliation can hide behind their own inaction and escape liability,” she said. “This is not good enough and may mean that workers, and particularly healthcare workers, stay silent when faced with the risks of blowing the whistle.”
The government announced earlier this month that a pledge requiring NHS organisations to support whistleblowers would be added to the NHS constitution from next year.