A 'whistleblowing' policy which guarantees the right of trust staff to go public with their concerns has been commended as a 'model' for the rest of the NHS.

The policy, jointly developed by local Unison officials and managers at Newcastle City Health trust, protects staff who raise concerns about malpractice.

It sets out procedures for airing and investigating wrongdoing internally when staff feel that 'it is not appropriate to go via normal management reporting channels'.

It adds: 'If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, City Health recognises the rights of employees and ex-employees to pursue the matter in the public arena.'

Whistleblowers are given the right to be represented by their union officer during investigations.

Unison national officer Karen Jennings said the policy should be considered a model.