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Psychologist whistle-blower at gender transition clinic wins claim

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Appleby v The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Sonia Appleby has had a long career safeguarding and protecting children in social care, health and as a children’s guardian in public and private proceedings.

Appleby lodged a whistle-blowing claim alleging that because she made “protected disclosures” to her line manager regarding concerns raised by National Gender Identity Development Service GIDS staff  (that the health or safety of patients was being, had been or was likely to be endangered), she was subjected to detriments including:

i) the Tavistock misused it’s own procedures to besmirch her and therefore jeopardize the role of safeguarding within the Trust;
ii) there was an unwritten but mandated directive from the Tavistock management that safeguarding concerns should not be brought to her attention despite being the Trust Safeguarding Children Lead;
iii) and, clinicians were discouraged from reporting safeguarding concerns to her.

Judge Goodman said such comments made it ‘difficult’ for Ms Appleby to carry out her duties as the trust’s child safeguarding lead. The judge also criticised managers for recording a complaint on her employment file without any formal investigation after Ms Appleby warned that GIDS could be in a ‘Jimmy Savile-style situation’.

She also told how she began receiving a ‘stream’ of complaints from staff, ranging from concerns about pressure from the transgender lobby to worries about giving children puberty blockers.

Appleby was awarded £20,000 after an employment tribunal ruled the trust’s treatment of her damaged her professional reputation and “prevented her from proper work on safeguarding”.

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