The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is supporting three nurses to launch a major test case against the Government in the European Court, following a High Court ruling last year. The nurses were automatically barred from working by the ISA following cautions. If successful, the action could mean that the government was liable for significant compensation payouts.
Jonathan Green, senior solicitor for the RCN, said the union would be seeking damages primarily on behalf of the three claimants, but also for any other members seeking damages under similar circumstances. “The process could take anything from 18 months up to three years,” he said, adding that the RCN was delighted by Justice Williams’ ruling at the end of last year and welcomed his “powerful comments” about how the claimants’ civil right had been infringed.
Green acknowledged that there is a definite need for a vetting scheme, but stressed that the current system needs to be looked at closely by the Home Office. “We hope they review the scheme and produce one that is compliant and compatible with people’s civil rights,” he added.
Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone said: “A person who has been barred from working with children and vulnerable adults does have the opportunity to persuade the authorities why they should be allowed to work with these groups in all but the most serious cases.
“However, while it is vital that we protect children and vulnerable adults we recognise that the existing scheme is not a proportionate response. This is why we are reviewing the scheme to consider the fundamental principles and objectives behind it. We will be announcing the outcome shortly.”