A clinical governance manager has launched a tribunal case against a major teaching hospital in one of the first cases under new 'whistleblowing' legislation.

Rosemary Hittinger, former clinical governance manager for surgery and critical care at St Mary's trust, London, is taking the trust to an employment tribunal under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which offers unlimited compensation to staff dismissed for whistleblowing.

The case is believed to relate to concerns allegedly raised by Ms Hittinger about some forms of surgery at St Mary's.

She is understood to have been made redundant after more than 20 years by Imperial College, which held her employment contract.

Imperial College employment relations officer Ann Kelly is also cited as a respondent in the case.A preliminary hearing date is set for 7 September.

A spokesperson for Ms Hittinger's union, the Association of University Teachers, said: 'We are proceeding to tribunal because we believe Rosemary has a strong case.'

Ms Hittinger has a high profile in the clinical governance field as a member of the editorial board of the Clinical Governance Bulletin, published by the Royal Society of Medicine.

She has also been an external auditor for data accreditation with the NHS Information Authority.

Guy Dehn, director of whistleblowers' watchdog Public Concern at Work, said a couple of cases against the NHS had been brought under the Public Interest Disclosure Act since it came into force in 1999. But he added:

'Trusts have wised up to the new law. Trusts vary a lot, but there are good practice examples.'

Other cases under the act had brought payouts as high as£300,000 and orders to return whistleblowers to their jobs, he said.

Both the trust and Imperial College refused to comment on the case in advance of the hearing.

Ms Hittinger was unavailable for comment.