Date lodged: 21 December 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what steps it plans to take to verify and improve advice given to ministers on health issues, including external supervision, in light of the reported comments by the former Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Alex Neil MSP, that he came to doubt advice given to him by officials on transvaginal mesh implant issues and "ended up doing a lot of research into the subject" himself.
Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 19 January 2018
Civil servants abide by the Civil Service Code, which expects them to act with integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. In particular, civil servants are asked to set out relevant issues truthfully, and must not mislead Ministers or be influenced by improper pressures. Civil servants must provide information and advice on the basis of evidence, and accurately present opinions and facts.
The Civil Service Code can be viewed here: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/civil-service-code/
Any Minister who has concerns about advice given by Scottish Government officials should raise the issue with the relevant senior official at the time the advice is offered.