HC Deb 25 October 1994 vol 248 cc751-2
13. Ms Eagle

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received from employees afraid to speak publicly on NHS matters.

Mr. Malone


Ms Eagle

Does the Minister agree that there is growing concern about the increasing number of dedicated health care professionals who are being disciplined or even dismissed by their health trusts for speaking out about the decline in standards? What will he do now to put a stop to draconian gagging clauses?

Mr. Malone

There are no draconian gagging clauses. The procedure is set out clearly in the guidelines that have been issued, which emphasise not only that there is a right to speak out and go through the proper procedures but that there is a duty to raise such matters in the proper way and to have them dealt with thoroughly and properly.

Mrs. Gorman

What representations has my hon. Friend received from the proprietors of private nurseries who are being harassed—

Madam Speaker

Order. [Interruption.] Order. I am on my feet. If the hon. Lady will relate her question to the question on the Order Paper, I will hear it.

Mrs. Gorman

What representations has my hon. Friend the Minister received on health matters from the proprietors of private nurseries, who are afraid of speaking out publicly for fear of their being closed for the most minor infringements?

Mr. Malone

None, to my knowledge.

Mr. Pike

Is the Minister aware of the concern at Burnley health trust, where many of the employees are not able to speak about what is happening? Is he further aware that one consultant was dismissed last month with three hours' notice and that the chief executive was asked to resign yesterday? Should not there be an inquiry into what is happening at that health trust?

Mr. Malone

The guidelines are precise. They state that fair procedures should be set out which allow openness and that a climate should be established between those who manage the institutions and those who are employed in them so that such matters can be properly investigated. The hon. Gentleman should refer to the guidelines. If it is the case that the institution to which he refers is not living up to them, that is a matter which needs to be looked into.