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

National Whistleblowing Standards

The National Whistleblowing Standards set out how the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) expects all NHS service providers to handle concerns that are raised with them and which meet the definition of a ‘whistleblowing concern’.

These Standards are underpinned by a suite of supporting documents, which provide instructions on how the INWO expects concerns to be handled.  Together these documents form a framework for the delivery of the National Whistleblowing Standards. 

The Standards consist of:

Whistleblowing principles

  • The principles underpin and drive how concerns raised by staff or those working in NHS services are handled.  They also include definitions of whistleblowing and whistleblower.

The whistleblowing procedure

  • Definitions and explanations of what is a whistleblowing concern, who can raise a concern, and a description of the procedure for handling these concerns.  

  •  Information for NHS boards and staff on their own responsibilities, requirements regarding recording and reporting concerns and expectations for external contractors.

Guidance and resources

  • Supporting information setting out how the INWO expects the procedure to be applied, together with the governance arrangements that must be in place.

The Standards are applicable across all NHS services.  This means that they must be accessible to anyone working to deliver an NHS service, whether directly or indirectly.  This includes current (and former) employees, bank and agency workers, contractors (including third sector providers), trainees and students, volunteers, non-executive directors, and anyone working alongside NHS staff, such as those in health and social care partnerships. 

Sector specific information

     Specific instructions are also provided for:

It is anticipated that the Standards will be reviewed three years after implementation, to identify any potential improvements or amendments.

Updated: January 16, 2020