Doctors' 'gagging' clause condemned

The Government has come under fire for trying to insert a gagging clause into doctors’ contracts that would stop them acting as whistleblowers and giving information to the press.

The draft clause states that consultants should not disclose any confidential information about patients, employees or contractors to anyone outside the doctor’s NHS Trust.

“We are enraged by it,” said Hospital Doctor editor Mike Broad.

“It disallows anyone from whistleblowing, which is something this Government has been trying to do for some time.

“A doctor’s duty of care is to the patient and this clause says ‘no, your responsibility is to the party line and the NHS’.”

He added: “But we’re so well networked people will keep talking to us. Doctors have lost confidence in the Government and are quite happy to talk to us about their problems.”

Hospital Doctor magazine is holding The Open Media conference in September, designed to help doctors deal with the media in high-profile cases.

Broad said: “We scheduled the conference not because of this clause but because of problems that doctors already have.

“They are caught between pressure from the Government on one side and a blame culture from the media on the other. This clause is symptomatic of the way things are going.”

By Mary Stevens

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