Confidential phone line to run for additional year.
A confidential phone line for staff who wish to raise concerns about practices in NHS Scotland has been extended for a year.
The NHS Scotland Confidential Alert Line for NHS employees has now been running for three years and provides an additional level of independent and external support and advice for staff should they have any concerns about how or whether to whistleblow.
The one-year extension to the contract will allow the Scottish Government to continue to review the Alert Line service alongside the wider package of measures the Scottish Government has developed over the past few years to support NHS staff who have concerns about practice within the service.
The Scottish Government will introduce a new Independent National Whistleblowing Officer who will scrutinise the handling of whistleblowing cases, providing an independent and external level of review.
Non-executive Whistleblowing Champions have also been appointed in each health board providing an additional level of local scrutiny and whistleblowing training has been delivered to support them in their role.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said:
"The Scottish Government's aim is that all staff should have the confidence to speak up without fear and with the knowledge that any genuine concern will be treated seriously and investigated properly.
"That is why we set up the NHS Confidential Alert Line. It provides staff with independent support and advice as well as an additional safe place where they can confidentially raise any concerns they may have about malpractice and wrongdoing in NHS Scotland.
"This follows on from commitments we have made in response to the recommendations from the Freedom to Speak Up Review, including establishing the role of an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer, to provide an independent and external review on the handling of whistleblowing cases in NHS Scotland.
"I have always been clear that health boards must ensure that it is safe and acceptable for staff to speak up about any concerns they may have, particularly in relation to patient safety.
"We will continue to work with the NHS across Scotland to ensure an open and transparent reporting culture where all staff have the confidence to speak up."
The National Confidential Alert Line will be extended for one year from 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017.
The report and recommendations from the Freedom to Speak Up Review, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, was published on the 11 February 2015. While the report and its recommendations relate to NHS England, the Scottish Government welcomed this review and has been clear from the outset that it would consider its findings to further support, encourage and promote whistleblowing.
Provision of the Alert Line fulfils one of the recommendations from the review - that staff should have access to a nominated independent external organisation, such as a whistleblowing helpline, where they may receive advice and support.
The public consultation on proposals for the Independent National Officer role closed on 10 February 2016. The Scottish Government is in the process of carefully analysing the feedback provided in the responses from all stakeholders prior to confirming the further details of the policy later in the year.