New measures to support Scottish whistleblowers

WHISTLEBLOWING cases in Scotland are to be scrutinised by a new independent national officer.

The officer will be responsible for reviewing the way cases are handled by NHS Scotland as part of a package of measures to protect whistleblowers unveiled by the Scottish Government.

"Whistleblowing champions" will also be appointed to each health board as an "oversight and assurance mechanism", extra training will be provided for NHS staff, and legislation will be introduced to create a statutory duty of candour.

It follows the recommendations made by Sir Robert Francis QC in his Freedom to Speak Up review which looked at the treatment and experiences of whistleblowers across the UK.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "It is very important that NHS workers feel they can raise any concerns they may have about patient safety and malpractice, because it helps to improve our health service.

"I am confident that NHS Scotland has robust whistleblowing procedures in place but I want to go further and embed an honest and open reporting culture, where all staff have the confidence to speak up without fear, and with the knowledge that any genuine concern will be treated seriously and investigated properly."

She said a number of Sir Robert’s recommendations had already been implemented in Scotland, including an integrated national policy and an external confidential alert line.

A consultation will be held later this year to consider the national officer’s role and remit, and the health secretary will write to health boards in the coming weeks with more information on the additional whistleblowing measures.

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