Whistleblowing doctor denounces gagging attempt

A doctor who raised concerns about the competence of a colleague said she was offered a £90,000 pay-off if she agreed to a “gagging” clause in settlement of an employment tribunal claim.

Lucy Dawson, who worked at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny, raised a serious clinical concern about the management of a seriously injured young patient by a medical colleague, reports the Western Mail.

Instead of investigating her concerns and treating her disclosure as confidential under whistle-blowing legislation, Dawson said managers took no statements about the matter, but informed the doctor whose treatment was in question that it was she who had complained. About four weeks later the doctor was made Dawson’s line manager.

When she took the matter to an Employment Tribunal earlier this year, Dawson said the Gwent NHS Healthcare Trust offered her a £90,000 pay-off including a confidentiality clause, which she refused. She is now working at another hospital.

Dawson said: “I would like the Aneurin Bevan Health Board to make a public statement that gagging clauses will not be used in future and that whistleblowers will be protected.”

A spokesman for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, which took over the responsibilities of the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust in October, told the Western Mail: “There are a number of issues in this case that were the subject of a formal investigation carried out by the former trust and it would be inappropriate to add any further comment.

“The Aneurin Bevan Health Board has a policy of not using confidentiality agreements in respect of settlements reached which is in line with Assembly Government guidance.”

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