Forth Valley NHS Board

Case ref: 202206116

NHS organisation: Forth Valley NHS Board

Subject: Handling of Whistleblowing Concern

Date: September 2023

This is the report of the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) on a whistleblowing complaint about the handling of a whistleblowing concern. It is published in terms of section 15(1) of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002 which sets out the INWO’s role and powers. There is more information about this here: Supported by the public and confidential appendices, it is a full and fair summary of the investigation.


Executive summary

1. The complainant (C) complained to the INWO about NHS Forth Valley (the Board). C was involved in a whistleblowing investigation carried out by the Board under the National Whistleblowing Standards.

2. The complaint I have investigated is:

    2.1. The Board unreasonably failed to handle C’s concerns in line with the National Whistleblowing Standards (upheld)

3. As a result of my findings, the Board have been asked to implement a number of recommendations and consider and reflect on other feedback, particularly in relation to compliance with the National Whistleblowing Standards.

4. My investigation also identified a number of areas of good practice by the Board, which has been included in my feedback.



What INWO are asking the Board to do for C:

Rec No.

What we found

What the organisation should do

What we need to see


Under 2.1 I found


The Board failed to demonstrate that each of C’s concerns had been fully and fairly investigated, or to keep adequate records, and to explain what element(s) of the concerns were not covered by the Standards.


The Board failed to include detail of their proposed actions and did not clearly explain how the actions would address the concerns or recommendations.

The Board must evidence an effective investigation that clearly links the findings and recommendations to the concerns raised by the Whistleblower. C should receive a final response that meets the requirement of the Standards:


At the end of the investigation, the organisation must give the person who raised the concern a full and considered response, setting out its findings and conclusions, and how it reached these. It must also provide evidence that it has taken the concern seriously and investigated it thoroughly. It must include the conclusions of the investigation and information about any action it has taken or plans to take as a result of the concern, both to deal with the current situation and to avoid it from happening again in the future (part 3, paragraph 52)


If, following a detailed review of C’s concerns, the Board decide that aspects are not suitable for the whistleblowing procedure, they should record full and accurate details of the decision and ensure that C fully understands these reasons.

A copy of the response letter that meets the requirements of the Standards.

By: Under the timescales outlined in the National Whistleblowing Standards - 20 working days, or if the investigation requires more time, updates at 20 working day intervals with accompanying evidence that progress is being made. 

What INWO are asking the Board to do to improve their compliance with the Whistleblowing Standards:

Rec No.

What we found

Outcome needed

What we need to see


Under 2.1 I found


there were shortcomings in the handling of the concerns in accordance with the Standards.

The Board must carefully consider the findings in this report and put in place measures that ensure processes are in place, in line with the Standards, in relation to


how new concerns are reviewed to establish suitability for the whistleblowing process


record keeping


process for drafting and signing off stage 2 reports.


Evidence that the Board have reflected on the findings in this report and identified good practice, where  improvements are needed to their process, what actions are needed and how learning will be shared.

Action plan by: 12 October 2023

Implementation by: 30 November 2023

Updated: September 20, 2023