The Public Services Reform (The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman) (Healthcare Whistleblowing) Order 2020 creates the role of Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) for the NHS in Scotland. The role and functions of the INWO will be undertaken by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).
The aim is to ensure everyone delivering NHS services in Scotland is able to speak out to raise concerns when they see harm or wrongdoing putting patient safety at risk, or become aware of any other forms of wrongdoing. People must be able to raise concerns, confident that they can do so in a protected way, that will not cause them personal detriment. They also need to be confident they have the right to an independent review if dissatisfied about how the concern was investigated.
The INWO will investigate complaints and, where needed, recommend action for the NHS organisation to take. In addition to complaints, the INWO has a national leadership role providing support and guidance to NHS organisations, focusing on appropriate early resolution, and good practice in whistleblowing handling, recording, reporting, learning and improvement. The ultimate aim is to ensure that patients received a good, safe service from a well-run NHS in Scotland.
The INWO will be the final stage of the process, providing the independent review.
The INWO has published National Whistleblowing Standards setting out high level principles and a detailed procedure for investigating concerns, which all NHS organisations in Scotland will be required to meet and follow.