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Lords rule nurses blacklist 'unfair'

Stops workers being banned without hearing

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A Government blacklist of nurses and care workers deemed unfit to work with children and vulnerable adults has been ruled unfair by the House of Lords.

The Royal College of Nursing has campaigned to end the provisional list - nurses put on the list are immediately banned from working with children or vulnerable adults without the right to any kind of hearing. The Law Lords yesterday rejected a Department of Health appeal of the decision.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Until now, nurses placed on the list provisionally were banned from working in any care setting – sometimes on the flimsiest of evidence or on the basis of malicious accusations, without the fundamental right to a hearing.

“Public and patient safety is of course always absolutely paramount, and there should be a mechanism to protect vulnerable people when they are in the care of nurses and care workers. However, these mechanisms must be simple, understandable and above all fair."

Carter said he hoped the ruling would have an impact on the Independent Safeguarding Authority - the new blacklisting system which comes into force this autumn. Nurses can find themselves on the list now if an employer has a reasonable suspicion that misconduct happened - without an investigation as to whether or not misconduct did actually happen.

The ruling means the government will be liable to pay compensation to people wrongly banned from working.

A spokeswoman for the RCN said: "There are about 200 referrals a month, of which about 90 are provisionally listed." The scheme has run since July 2004 so a maximum of 4,800 care workers and nurses could be in line for payouts.

The full Lords ruling is here. ®

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