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Views sought on national whistleblowing officer role

Views sought on national whistleblowing officer role

The Scottish Government is looking for views on how the role of national whistleblowing officer can support NHS Scotland staff to speak out about problems without fear.

The new role was announced in June and will provide an independent and external level of review on the handling of whistleblowing cases in NHS Scotland. The person will be supported by non-executive whistleblowing ‘champions’ in every health board.

Legislation will also be introduced to create a statutory duty of candour.


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A public consultation on the proposals has been launched by Health secretary Shona Robison and will remain open until February.

Robison said she wanted “as many people as possible” to get involved.

“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.”

The proposals are in response to the UK-wide ‘Freedom to Speak Up’ review, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC into the treatment of NHS whistleblowers.

The consultation was welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Scotland, which has been pushing for greater protection of nurses.

Norman Provan, Associate Director Employment Relations, RCN Scotland, said:

“We very much welcome today’s consultation publication which will help to pin down some of the finer detail around the Independent National (Whistleblowing) Officer.

“We have been working with the Government for some time to ensure that NHS whistleblowers have the support that they need, and getting the role and responsibility of the INO right is key to ensuring that support.

“Those working tirelessly, under enormous pressure, in our NHS must be able to raise their concerns without fear. They must be confident that they will be treated fairly as individuals and that the issues they raise will be looked into fully.”

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