Gagging orders for NHS whisteblowers to be banned, Health Secretary Matt Hancock vows

23 April 2019, 08:01 | Updated: 23 April 2019, 08:45

Gagging orders used in the NHS to stop whistleblowers speaking out will be banned, the health secretary has promised.

Matt Hancock said he wants more people to feel they can "put their head above the parapet" and described the use of some Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) as "completely inappropriate".

"We stand with whistleblowers," he declared, praising their "vital and courageous service".

Mr Hancock, tipped by some as a future Tory leader, vowed to end the "injustice" of forcing medics to "choose between the job they love and speaking the truth to keep patients safe".

"Whistleblowers perform a vital and courageous service for the NHS and I want more people to feel they can put their head above the parapet," he said.

"But they must have a safe, open culture to do this in order to achieve the ambitions set out in the Long-Term Plan and make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world."

Mr Hancock made the intervention follow growing concern about the use of NDAs to silence staff across a range of sectors.

It emerged last week that universities had spent nearly £90m on pay-offs with so-called gagging orders attached over the last two years.

In March the government announced toughened legal measures to prevent employers using confidentiality agreements to stop workers from reporting crimes, harassment or discrimination.