New measures to support NHS whistleblowers

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> SNP MSP Aileen McLeod has welcomed news that the Scottish Government will establish an Independent National Officer to scrutinise the handling of whistleblowing cases by NHS Scotland.
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> The move follows the recommendations from the Freedom to Speak Up Review chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, which looked at the treatment and experiences of whistleblowers across the UK workforce.
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> The Independent National Officer will provide an independent and external level of review on the handling of whistleblowing cases dealt with by NHS Scotland. The Scottish Government will be consulting on the detail of the Independent National Officer’s role and remit in the autumn this year.
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> The creation of the new role is an addition to a number of other measures being developed by the Scottish Government, including appointing Whistleblowing Champions in each health board, running additional training events for NHS Scotland staff and the introduction of legislation to create a statutory duty of candour.
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> Aileen said:
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> “It is of the utmost importance that the region’s NHS workers feel they can raise any concerns they may have about patient safety and malpractice, because that is a major driver of change and helps constantly improve our health service.
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> “I am confident NHS Dumfries & Galloway already has robust whistleblowing procedures in place, but we need to go further and encourage a culture where necessary open reporting is commonplace. This allows for concerns to be investigated in an efficient manner.
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> “Whilst the current frameworks and the external confidential alert line have gone some way to help, there is always space to do more.
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> “The new Independent Officer will form part of a package of measures to strengthen our protection for whistleblowers throughout the NHS. It is vital that people are confident to speak out where they have concerns.”
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> Notes to editors:
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> Background
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> The report and recommendations from the Freedom to Speak Up Review, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, was published on the 11 February 2015. Whilst the report and its recommendations relate to NHS England, the Scottish Government welcomed this review and has been clear from the outset that it would consider its findings to further support, encourage and promote whistleblowing.
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> The Scottish Government will take forward the following actions:
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> • Create role of an Independent National Officer to provide an independent and external level of review on the handling of whistleblowing cases – the detailed proposals will be subject to consultation
> • Non-executive “whistleblowing” champions will be introduced in each NHS Scotland board. They will act predominantly as an oversight and assurance mechanism, as well as a conduit to ensure that internal mechanisms within Boards are working effectively to support whistleblowing arrangements and staff in raising concerns.
> • Further national whistleblowing training events will be provided to health boards.
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> This will complement existing work already undertaken over the last few years, including:
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> • The introduction of the NHS Scotland Staff Governance Standard which requires employers to ensure that it is safe and acceptable to speak up about wrongdoing or malpractice.
> • The launch of the NHS Scotland Confidential Alert Line, run by Public Concern at Work, for NHS staff.
> • A series of whistleblowing training sessions for key staff within health boards.
> • Removal of the standard inclusion of confidentiality clauses and derogatory statement clauses from settlement agreements across NHS Scotland, ensuring that staff entering into such an agreement are clear that this does not compromise their right to whistleblow.
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