Protected Disclosure

The Health Act 2007 (Part 14) introduced provisions which allow employees of certain health care providers to make what are known as protected disclosures to their employers.

Essentially an employee can make disclosure in good faith to an authorised person where they have reasonable grounds to believe that the health or welfare of patients or members of the public are at risk. The provisions may also be used where there is waste of public funds or where legal obligations are not being met. These matters can then be investigated by the employer.

The legislation also provides that certain disclosures to professional regulators will be regarded as protected disclosures.  Specifically in relation to the PSI for a disclosure to be regarded a protected disclosure it must comply with section 55E of the 2004 Health Act which provides:

“where a person makes, in good faith, a disclosure to a professional regulatory body which the person has reasonable grounds for believing will show that the actions of any person, the exercise of whose profession requires him or her to be registered with a professional regulatory body [defined as each of our bodies], has posed, is posing or is likely to pose a risk to the health or welfare of the public, the disclosure shall be a protected disclosure under this act.”

Complaints made under Part 6 of the Pharmacy Act 2007 will be regarded as protected disclosures provided that they fall within the terms of this section.

The legislation provides protection for a person in respect of civil liability in consequence of making a protected disclosure and provides protection for employees from penalisation in respect of the making of a protected disclosure.
The legislation does not provide for anonymity in making complaints or providing information.

It is an offence for a person who knows or reasonably ought to know that the disclosure made by him/her is false.

For more detailed information regarding protected disclosures please refer to Part 9A of the Health Act 2004.