Calls for change in the law after career of junior doctor 'destroyed' by whistleblowing on staff shortages

More than a thousand doctors are calling for a change in the law after a junior doctor says his career was destroyed after he blew the whistle on staff shortages.

Dr Chris Day alerted managers at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, south-east London, after two locums failed to turn up for a night shift. He was already the only doctor covering an intensive care unit of 18 beds.

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust says it has increased the number of doctors supporting the Intensive Care Unit. Credit: ITV News

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust subsequently investigated Dr Day’s concerns.

It told ITV News:

But a few months later his entire career was in doubt.

His performance, previously praised by consultants and other hospital staff, was suddenly questioned along with his conduct. Not by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, but by the body responsible for his training and career progression, Health Education England (HEE).

At his annual appraisal, Dr Day had told the HEE of the safety concerns he had raised at the Trust. He claims that following this his professional and personal conduct was called into question. And that as a direct result of this the HEE deleted his doctor training number making it impossible for him to progress his career.

Dr Chris Day said the situation at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London was unsafe. Credit: ITV News

He took his battle to the court arguing that having raised safety concerns he should have been protected under whistleblowing regulations. But the court found against him ruling that Health Education England was not subject to whistleblowing law because it was not his employer.

Dr Day was shocked at the outcome which he says raises serious concerns for junior doctors and their patients.

In a statement HEE told ITV News the judgement was very clear.

It also rejected claims that it had discriminated against him because of his whistleblowing.

Dr Day was concerned for patient safety after two locums failed to turn up for a night shift. Credit: ITV News

The Department of Health admitted that the HEE was not covered by whistleblowing legislation. But it insisted that doctors were protected when raising safety concerns under whistle-blowing legislation because NHS Hospital Trusts are fully covered by the law.

Tim Johnson, the employment lawyer acting for Dr Day said:

The discovery seems to fly in the face of government promises to fully protect NHS whistle-blowers.

The junior doctor at the centre of the case now has the support of over a thousand medics who believe patient safety is at risk and say the loophole needs to be closed immediately.