INWO update

Given the understandable disruption to NHS services during COVID-19, we are working closely with our colleagues in the Scottish Government to ensure that the launch of the INWO and implementation of the National Whistleblowing Standards comes at a suitable time and takes into account both the pressures caused by the pandemic and the usual pressures the winter season presents. We expect to announce a revised date for implementation soon, but to be clear, it will NOT be July 2020 as originally advised. Read more


January 2020: The following information is shared to prepare for implementation - date to be confirmed

Case study

  • Date:
  • Category:
    Handling a concern directly at Stage 2 due to timescales
    Health and social care setting
    Using the confidential contact
    Where business as usual has not worked
    ‘Masking’ an investigation


A physiotherapist working in a rehab service notices issues with social work assessments for their clients, which is preventing them from progressing to the next stage of the rehab programme.  

They initially raise their concerns with their team leader, but no action is taken.  They then raise it with a more senior social worker.  Again, no action is taken.

The physiotherapist feels that this is a significant issue, as their list of clients is growing, and they are not able to manage supply due to this ‘block’ in the system.  However, they are reluctant to jeopardise good working relations.

They decide to raise this concern with the health and social care partnership (HSCP) confidential contact, who logs it at stage 1 of the whistleblowing procedure and discusses support needs, as well as how best to progress the concern.  They agree that a senior social worker in another part of the HSCP would be best to progress the concern, and the confidential contact shares details (though not the physiotherapist's identity) with them.

The procedure states that investigators should explore ways of investigating concerns that do not arouse the suspicion of others.  Given the close working relations between the physiotherapist and the social workers, careful consideration is given as to how to investigate the situation.  The senior social worker decides to initiate a random case audit; appearing as if part of regular audit processes and removing suspicions that the physiotherapist had raised concerns.

Updated: January 9, 2020