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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-12991: Emma Harper (South Scotland)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 24 November 2017

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its plans to introduce the role of Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for the NHS (Scotland).

Answered by: Shona Robison 29 November 2017

Legislation will be brought forward in 2018 so that the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) can take on the new role of Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for the NHS in Scotland (INWO).

The INWO will be given statutory powers to provide independent scrutiny of Health Boards’ handling of whistleblowing cases, for whistleblowers in our NHS who are not satisfied with the internal investigation. Scrutiny will cover the application of local process and decision making. As part of this the INWO will also look at the Health Board’s culture and approach to whistleblowing, particularly where a whistleblower claims to have been unfairly treated as a result of raising a concern.

The aim is to have a health service where staff can speak up in the knowledge that an independent, external body can review their case if they feel it has not been handled appropriately – and bring it to a clear, final and fair conclusion.

The SPSO will develop a clear set of standards on which Health Boards` will base their handling of whistleblowing cases. To complement these standards, the SPSO will lead on work, with our partners, to develop model whistleblowing procedures. The focus will be on resolution at the earliest possible time, continuous improvement, best practice, recording and reporting and learning from whistleblowing cases. This will give Health Boards the opportunity to learn and improve from the cases they handle and the INWO the basis to provide feedback to Health Boards - which will ultimately drive improvements.

We are working closely with the SPSO to have the INWO role in place as soon as possible taking into account the parliamentary process and the impact of other commitments the SPSO have. We anticipate this will be in late 2018.