NHS staff should have better protections when it comes to whistleblowing and gender discrimination as well as provided with a better work-life balance, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted.
Following reports that non-disclosure agreements are common across many professions and sectors, the Minister said gagging NHS workers against speaking out about their concerns at work is “completely inappropriate”.
“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.”
The government has said it intends to change whistleblowing laws to provide better protection to those who speak out, but detail is currently lacking.
He also broached the gender pay gap. Writing in the Guardian, he recognised that women are underrepresented in top roles and that there is a dire need for more flexible working opportunities including part-time jobs, job sharing, and home-working.
The Department of Health will now follow with an ‘Interim NHS People Plan’ developed by Lady Dido Harding that is expected to set out recommendations for action.
The Institute of Employment Rights agrees that employment law is in dire need of an update, but questions why the government has focused its attention only on the NHS. With one in ten workers across the economy in insecure work and in-work poverty reaching record levels, there is an urgent case for wholesale reform of the UK’s outdated labour law framework.