Whistleblowing helpline expanded

A WHISTLEBLOWING helpline designed to encourage NHS Scotland staff to raise safety concerns is to be expanded.

From August 1 the NHS Scotland Confidential Alert Line will become the Whistleblowing Alert and Advice Services for NHS Scotland (AALS).

The service will offer support from legally trained advisers and will help callers consider their options if they are unsure about how or whether to raise concerns. It will also pass concerns raised by staff, with their consent, to the appropriate health board or scrutiny body for further investigation.

New resources include short films, toolkits and guidance to promote and encourage a “supportive environment” where staff can raise concerns. There are also plans for events to raise awareness and promote engagement amongst healthcare staff.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “Patient safety is paramount and I want to ensure this service continues to build confidence and trust, with an increased focus on resources and support for staff and managers.”

The advice line is part of a wider range of whistleblowing measures from the Scottish Government, including the planned introduction of a new Independent Whistleblowing Officer for NHS Scotland (INWO). It will continue to be operated by the charity Public Concern at Work (PCaW) who have run the service since it was first piloted in 2013.

Analysis from PCaW shows the phone line receives an average of one call per week from concerned NHS Scotland staff. However, the latest figures for August 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017 show calls are down slightly compared to the previous six-month period, dropping from 28 to 18.

Nurses make up the majority of callers with most concerns relating to patient safety. Most callers have already raised concerns with a manager but call the helpline for advice on how to escalate an issue they feel is being ignored.

Find out more about the helpline here

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