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Support for NHS whistleblowers

Published: 18 Nov 2015 11:30

Consultation on Independent National Whistleblowing Officer launches.

A public consultation on proposals for the role of Scotland's new Independent National Whistleblowing Officer, who will scrutinise the handling of whistleblowing cases in NHS Scotland, has launched.

Earlier this year, Health Secretary Shona Robison announced the Scottish Government's intention to create the position, as part of a package of measures to further support whistleblowers in the NHS.

It follows the recommendations from the Freedom to Speak Up Review, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, which looked at the treatment and experiences of whistleblowers from across the UK health workforce.

The Independent National Officer will provide an independent and external level of review on the handling of whistleblowing cases in NHS Scotland. The public consultation will seek views on the role and responsibility of the position and will run until 10 February 2016.

The creation of this new role is an addition to a number of other measures being developed by the Scottish Government.

This includes the appointment of non-executive Whistleblowing Champions in each health board, as well as additional whistleblowing training events and the introduction of legislation to create a statutory duty of candour.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

"All staff in Scotland's NHS 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, in response to the recommendations from the Freedom to Speak Up Review, I committed to establishing the role of an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer, to provide an independent and external review on the handling of whistleblowing cases in NHSScotland.

"Today we are launching the full public consultation on proposals for this role, and we want as many people as possible to get involved and share their views on this important position.

"It is vitally important that NHS workers in Scotland feel they can raise any concerns they may have about patient safety and malpractice because it helps to improve our health service.

"To provide a further level of independent local scrutiny, non-executive Whistleblowing Champions are also being introduced in each NHSScotland Board.

"This role will act predominantly as an oversight and assurance mechanism, as well as making sure health boards are working effectively to support whistleblowing arrangements and staff in raising concerns. The Whistleblowing Champions will shortly be receiving tailored training to support them in the role.

"We are 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 promote an open and transparent reporting culture across all levels of the service."

Notes to editors

The full, public consultation is available online at: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/health-workforce/independent-national-whistleblowing-officer

The report and recommendations from the Freedom to Speak Up Review, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, was published on the 11 February 2015. Whilst 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.