South of Scotland 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.
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.
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.
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.
Aileen McLeod said: “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.
“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.
“Whilst the current frameworks and the external confidential alert line have gone some way to help, there is always space to do more.
“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.”