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Independent National Whistleblowing Officer

The Independent National Whistleblowing Officer and the Draft National Whistleblowing Standards

October 2019

We have been progressing our work with the Scottish Government to give us powers to look at whistleblowing concerns in the NHS in Scotland.  Once in place, this legislation will give the Ombudsman the additional role of INWO.  The INWO will set the standards for complaints about the application of the local NHS whistleblowing processes, including examination of the decision-making and outcomes of the whistleblowing complaint.

In the spring of 2019 the Scottish Government consulted on the draft legislation, alongside the SPSO’s consultation on the draft National Whistleblowing Standards.  We have taken account of the comments on the draft Standards, and made a range of amendments.  Details can be found here.

We are pleased that this work has progressed to its next stage.  The Scottish Government has sent the draft legislation to the Parliament for further scrutiny.  Alongside the draft order, SPSO has provided the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee with the final draft of our National Whistleblowing Standards.  These are available to view from the Parliament's website here.  (Full details of the Health and Sport Committee’s consultation on the proposal for the INWO role can be found here - see 'Next Steps' section at the end for the latest announcements).  

The National Whistleblowing Standards set out how all NHS service providers in Scotland must handle concerns that have been raised with them about risks to patient safety and the effective delivery of the services.  They apply to all services provided by or on behalf of NHS Scotland, and must be accessible to all those working in these services, whether they are directly employed by the NHS or a contracted organisation.  It also applies to students, trainees and volunteers.

The Health and Sport Committee will be considering the Standards over the coming weeks, and it is currently anticipated that the legislation will be introduced by early January 2020.  At that point, the SPSO will publish the finalised National Whistleblowing Standards.  There will be a further six months for organisations to prepare for implementation of the Standards.  The SPSO will be provide advice, guidance and support during this time.


Updated: March 18, 2020