FAQs: Monitoring, reporting and improving access

Recording and reporting

What systems do we need to have in place for recording concerns?

Most boards will be able to use Datix to record concerns.  We worked with the Datix users group to ensure that Datix can easily be used for logging whistleblowing concerns, in line with the National Whistleblowing Standards. The critical elements to recording are:

  • Confidentiality – case details need to be kept confidential to a high degree, with limited access, reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • Information to be gathered is detailed on our page about Reporting and recording.
  • Reports need to be shared internally at least quarterly (such as to risk management committees) and shared at full board committee meetings. They need to be made publicly available at least annually.

Contracted services, including primary care services, need to have systems in place for recording in the same way as boards, as above.  These services need to report this information to the board on concerns raised about the services provided for that board. Boards can use this information to inform their contract management.

What do I have to record about a concern?

It is important to record information about all concerns that you receive. You can find a full list of the information you should record in the part of the National Whistleblowing Standards on recording and learning lessons.  

Confidential contacts are not responsible for recording this information, but should log as much information as possible at the outset.

What reporting is required and do we have to report our statistics to the INWO?

The National Whistleblowing Standards (the Standards) state that boards must produce quarterly reports that are analysed by their senior management to ensure speak up arrangements are working effectively, and to identify how risks can be addressed and services can be improved. Reports should include information gathered from primary care and other contracted services where concerns have been raised with them.

The INWO is requesting quarterly reports during the first year of implementation in order to assess implementation of the Standards and identify what support we can provide to boards.  This is not a requirement of the Standards, and is not anticipated to be required on a long term basis.

In addition to internal quarterly reporting, boards must publish an annual report setting out performance in handling whistleblowing concerns and the actions that have been or will be taken to improve services as a result of concerns raised. This report should be made easily available to members of the public and a link to it should also be provided to the INWO.

This annual report must include information on concerns raised with contractors and primary care providers, who are required to report to boards at the end of each year.

Full details on the reporting requirements under the Standards can be found in the part of the Standards that covers reporting and learning lessons.

How does the Executive provide assurance to the Board?

We have developed a list of questions which a Board member might ask of the organisation and its Executive team. It supplements the reporting requirements set out in the National Whistleblowing Standards and provides an example of how the Executive might provide assurance to the Board.  The questions can be viewed here.  

Raising awareness and addressing barriers

How can we promote the whistleblowing procedure?

Raising awareness, and showing enthusiasm for the process from senior leadership, right down to line managers, will be critical to the success of this procedure, and to encourage staff in raising concerns.

Organisations must make sure information on how to raise concerns is readily available, such as through posters and other materials which can be easily and discretely read.  There is training available for managers and others that may receive concerns, as well as for staff that may want to raise a concern on the Turas Learn website. It is important for managers to access this training, to make sure they know how to handle concerns that come to them.

Communications teams play an important role too.  It can be helpful to use a range of internal communications channels, so that staff from across the organisation hear about these changes.

Beyond the process itself, good news stories and positive outcomes from when others have raised concerns will help to build trust in the process.  This is an important part of promoting the process itself which should not be overlooked.

What requirements are there for HR to monitor training uptake?

There are no requirements in the National Whistleblowing Standards (the Standards) for HR to monitor training uptake but it is good practice to monitor this information, where possible.  This will help the organisation understand the level of all staff awareness of the Standards, and also help prevent concerns being handled incorrectly, for example, through grievance procedures. While the INWO does not require every member of staff within an organisation to complete the INWO training modules, we would expect organisations to aim for full awareness through staff communications, team discussions, promotion of training (both INWO and locally developed initiatives) and by including training modules as part of new start induction programmes.

How should organisations explore barriers to raising concerns?

One of the most important things that organisations can do to remove barriers is to improve awareness of how to raise a concern. They should ensure that there is a good awareness of the National Whistleblowing Standards (the Standards) across the workforce, through training, promotion and easy access to information, including how to access confidential contacts. In particular, organisations should ensure that managers across the organisation who might receive concerns have completed training so that they can confidently recognise and respond to concerns, understand who can raise them and ensure they are responded to appropriately.

It is important for managers to realise that some workers will find it more difficult to speak up than others, as they may feel their position is more vulnerable. For example, students may be concerned about their assessment grades, part time staff may worry about keeping their hours, and those from minority groups may have concerns about being marginalised. Being aware of the vulnerabilities of the people they work with can enable managers to react appropriately when these people come to them with a concern.

In addition to this, communication from senior management about the importance of raising concerns will show they are welcomed by the organisation. Sharing findings and/or learning and improvement outcomes from investigations will also build confidence in the process.

Organisations can review and analyse the numbers of concerns that they have received and determine whether or not there are gaps that could be addressed through more targeted training or information. Staff surveys can also be a good source of information to identify areas that need to be proactively addressed to ensure access to the process. 

Seeking and reviewing feedback from staff who have raised a concern through the Standards will also give organisations some insight into any improvements that could be made with local speak up arrangements.

Sharing best practice

What other opportunities are there to hear and learn from other boards/the INWO?

Our monthly bulletin has information on ad hoc engagement activities, our latest findings and recommendations, and upcoming events or webinars. Anyone can sign up to receive our bulletins.

There is also a network for whistleblowing practitioners under development, and a network for confidential contacts is being set up. If you would be interested in joining either of these networks, or if you would like our input to a meeting or event, please contact us on [email protected].

Updated: March 1, 2022