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 are 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 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 is the final stage of the process, providing the independent review, as stated by The Public Services Reform (The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman) (Healthcare Whistleblowing) Order 2020.
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 are required to meet and follow.
To ensure those wanting to raise concerns have access to all the information they need in relation to the Standards, the INWO team operate an advice phone line. You can contact the team on:
Freephone: 0800 008 6112
Our advice team is available during the following hours:
- Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-1pm
- Tuesday and Thursday 12noon-4pm
This service is open to all NHS providers, staff and members of the public. You can also email us at any time on
The INWO team will be available to offer the following advice:
- Support and advice on the National Whistleblowing Standards
- General enquiries from members of the public.
The team can also be contacted by email at: INWO@spso.gov.scot