At present, those facing such accusations are placed on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) and Protection of Children Act (POCA) lists before their guilt has been established.
Many are only cleared after spending a year or more barred from work while they wait for their case to be heard.
But, in a test case this week, the Law Lords unanimously ruled that placing workers on such black lists was in breach of the European convention on human rights. They said it breached both article six, which protects the right to a fair hearing, and article eight, which protects the right to a private life.
The ruling means that nurses now have the right to a preliminary hearing before being placed on a black list.
It also means the government is liable to pay millions in compensation to people who have been wrongly removed from the workforce.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the RCN, said he was ‘delighted’ that the Lords had ‘upheld the principle that care workers have a right to have their side of the story heard before losing their livelihoods.
‘Public and patient safety is of course always absolutely paramount, but mechanism [to protect vulnerable people] must be simple, understandable and above all fair,’ he added.
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