A pool of NHS trusts prepared to offer trial employment to whistleblowers is being created by NHS Improvement.

It is part of a new support scheme to help whistleblowing staff to return to work in the health service.

The pilot is designed to offer help to existing and former staff who have made protected disclosures under the Public Interest Disclosure Act to maintain their careers and is part of the regulator’s response to Sir Robert Francis QC’s Freedom to Speak Up report, which exposed the victimisation of whistleblowers in the NHS and called for them to be given help to get back to work.

NHSI said the scheme would offer training and work experience for people who have been suspended or out of work for long periods.

It will also offer advice and help applying for jobs, and create the pool of trusts prepared to offer trial employment or work experience.

NHSI will issue guidance to employers to improve support for whistleblowers to remain in their jobs.

The pilot has been co-designed by former whistleblowers and follows a similar scheme by NHS England for staff working in primary care.

NHSI will evaluate the pilot before developing a full scheme and guidance in partnership with NHS Employers, NHS Providers and HR directors.

Steve Russell, London executive regional managing director at NHSI, said: “We are committed to ensuring that NHS staff who raise legitimate concerns are able to do so safely, with the knowledge that they will be supported to continue within the NHS and their chosen career.

“This pilot programme has been co-designed with staff members who have previously been whistleblowers themselves, with the aim of helping highly skilled staff return to the NHS and continue contributing positively to patient care.

“The scheme will also work with NHS trusts and foundation trusts to help them provide support to staff who raise concerns, to ensure that all organisations provide a culture of continuous learning and improvement.”