MSPs back Government proposal for new NHS whistleblowing approach


A Scottish Parliament Committee has backed proposals to create a new route for whistleblowers in the healthcare sector to raise complaints.

The new regulations would give power to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to take on the role as Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) and to investigate whether a whistleblowers complaint had been handled properly.

The proposed approach follows concerns of a bullying culture at NHS Highland, outlined in the ‘Sturrock Review’, and more recent concerns which have emerged in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, said:

“The Committee is satisfied that installing this role of national whistleblowing officer with the SPSO is the correct approach.

“It’s impossible to say whether this new approach would have prevented the serious issues in NHS Highland although it could have mitigated some of them.

“We must be clear that this new SPSO role will not solve the issue completely. The Government must ensure all NHS staff can have confidence that any concerns they raise will be dealt with effectively, and in an independent and confidential manner.

“It is only through a range of initiatives that confidence can be rebuilt and cultures improved which would ensure the safety and wellbeing of all NHS staff and patients.”

Other findings in the Health and Sport Committee’s report include:
• A call for the Scottish Government to extend provisions so that all social work whistleblowing complaints go to the INWO to investigate.
• For the Scottish Government to ask the UK Government to have MSPs added as ‘prescribed persons’.
• Praise for NHS Lothian’s approach to whistleblowing, and a call for other health boards to follow suit.


The full report is attached.

The Committee previously held a call for views on this issue which closed on 22 May.

More details on this inquiry can be found on our webpage.

You can read the Committee’s report ‘The Governance of the NHS in Scotland - ensuring delivery of the best healthcare for Scotland’ here.

You can learn more about the work of the Health and Sport Committee on the Scottish Parliament website.

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