Listening and responding to concerns raised by staff about the way services are provided is a vital way in which organisations can improve their services.
All NHS organisations and providers in Scotland are required to follow the National Whistleblowing Principles and Standards.
The Principles and Standards set out how the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) expects all NHS service providers to respond when staff raise concerns, including supporting the person raising a concern.
When is a concern classed as Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is when a person, usually working with or in a public service, raises a concern of mismanagement, corruption, illegality, or some other wrongdoing. The public value of whistle-blowing has been increasingly recognised since the term was introduced in the 1960s, and is an invaluable mechanism for organisations to become aware of issues that need to be addressed.
Another helpful definition of whistleblowing is when someone who works (or worked) within an organisation raises a concern that relates to speaking up in the public interest where an act or omission has created, or may create, a risk of harm or wrong doing, or exposes information or activity that is deemed illegal, unsafe, or a waste, fraud, or abuse of taxpayer funds.
NHS Grampian, the three Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) and the other NHS care providers in Grampian, are united in their aim to develop a culture that welcomes, handles and responds to concerns in a caring and supportive way.
To achieve this we are working together across the whole care system to embed an efficient, consistent, system wide approach which promotes, encourages and ensures learning comes from whistleblowing concerns. A key part of this, is for all staff to feel supported and given the time they need to work through one of the whistleblowing modules on Turas, which takes 30-40 minutes.
What to expect if you raise a Whistleblowing Concern?
There are currently two dedicated whistleblowing confidential contacts in the Grampian area. They are available to receive whistleblowing concerns from anyone involved in providing NHS services in all types of services and locations across Grampian.
When a whistleblowing concern is raised to a confidential contact, the concern will be handled completely confidentially. This means the identity of the concern raiser will not be shared with anyone, only the details of the concern are carefully passed on to an individual to investigate.
The confidential contact will ensure protection and support is given to the person raising the concern. They will also ensure the person who investigates the concern is trained, independent and that there is no conflict of interest. The confidential contact will provide verbal and written updates on progress, completion, and outcome of the investigation, including action being taken.
Whistleblowing concerns should be resolved in 3 working days if possible. If the concern is more complex, it should be investigated and fed back in 20 working days. If the concern raiser is unhappy with the handling or outcome of the concern, they should raise this with the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO).
The INWO will look at how the concern was handled, what the findings were, and can direct the NHS Board to take further action as a result. For more information about Whistleblowing and the INWO please visit their website.
In addition to expecting support and confidential handling of a concern, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) allows legal protection against discrimination for a person raising a whistleblowing concern. This ‘protected disclosure’ applies when the legal test is passed - when the concern raiser ‘reasonably believes’ the concern they are raising is in the public’s best interest.
Who can raise a Whistleblowing Concern?
Whistleblowing concerns can be raised by anyone who is (or has been) providing services for the NHS, or working to provide services with NHS staff which includes:
- All NHS Grampian staff.
- All Health and Social Care staff.
- All those working in non-private Primary Care Services (including both salaried and independent practices).
- Anyone contracted to provide services for NHS Grampian.
- All Agency staff and Locums.
- All Students, Trainees and Apprentices.
- All Volunteers and Third Sector Organisations.
The best way to raise a whistleblowing concerns is through one of the confidential contacts. This can be done:
- By filling in this short online confidential form.
- By emailing email@example.com (or one of the addresses shown below).
- By phone (numbers shown below).
- By post (addresses shown below).
- Through a manager or member of staff who can support you to make contact with a confidential contact.
- Through your University or College, who can contact the confidential contact on your behalf and protect your identity completely.
- Through your Volunteer Co-ordinator, who can contact the confidential contact on your behalf and protect your identity completely.
Whistleblowing Confidential Contacts:
Dr Steve Stott, Associate Medical Director,
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 07545707694
Steve has been a consultant in Aberdeen since 1996. He has held managerial roles in Intensive Care and is a past President and Treasurer of the Scottish Intensive Care Society. He has been the Acute Lead for the Scottish Patient Safety Programme and has a passion for patient safety and quality working, and has been an associate medical director for 4 years.
Louise Ballantyne, Head of Engagement,
email@example.com, Tel: 01224 558815
Louise joined NHS Grampian in 1996 when she qualified as a staff nurse. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings, and various sites around Grampian. Over the last 15 years, Louise has held management roles in Acute, Modernisation and Corporate Communications, all of which have had a patient experience focus, which is an area she is extremely passionate about.
Steve and Louise would like to encourage anyone who has a concern about patient, public or staff safety, harm or wrongdoing to please get in touch, so they can support and protect you, and raise awareness of any issues that need addressed in Grampian, in a safe and confidential way.