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.

Sector information

  • Specific instructions primary care providers and contracted services, health and social care partnerships (HSCPs), organisations involved in providing student and trainee placements, and arrangements for volunteers.

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.  

Training, guidance and resources

We are here to support NHS organisations in the implementation of the National Whistleblowing Standards.

Please visit our webpages with information on training, guidance an a variety of resources.

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


Updated: March 3, 2021