NHSScotland whistleblowing helpline evaluation: 1 February to 31 October 2019

Evaluation by Protect of the NHS Scotland whistleblowing helpline during the period 1 February 2019 to 31 October 2019.

This document is part of a collection

Whistleblowing Alert and Advice Services for NHS Scotland

Nine-month review (1 February 2019 – 31 October 2019)

We are pleased to provide NHS Scotland with this nine-month report as part of our contract to operate the NHS Scotland Whistleblowing Alert and Advice Line. As part of this evaluation we will also provide NHS Scotland with a summary report on information sent to the NHS Scotland Health Boards in relation to whistleblowing cases that have been raised via the Alert and Advice Line.

Alert and Advice Line overview

In the above review period we were contacted by 32 individuals who identified to one of our advisers that they work for NHS Scotland. This is a decrease in calls compared to the previous six-month reporting period (there were 49 calls between 1st August 2018 to 31st January 2019).

26 of these 32 cases involved a public interest or whistleblowing concern, namely one in which the interests of others, colleagues, the public or the organisation itself were at risk. Of the 26, 1 was what Protect classifies as 'Public N/A' meaning that the caller had a public interest concern but was not a worker. 6 cases related to private matters, namely where the issue involved an employment or HR matter or was a patient complaint about an issue affecting only the patient.

NHS Scotland workers will typically contact the Alert and Advice Line in one of two ways:

via the dedicated Freephone number (0800 0086112) and email facility (alertline@protect-advice.org.uk) for the NHS Scotland Alert and Advice Line

via Protect general advice line number 020 7404 6609 / helpline@protect-advice.org.uk (through an independent websearch)

For the purposes of the Alert and Advice Line we operate a Freephone number. We received 50 calls to the Alert and Advice Line Freephone number during the period covered. Please note these are call numbers as opposed to individual cases. This may include callers who identify as working for NHS Scotland, callers who do not tell us who they work for, and multiple calls from individuals.


When providing advice, it is not a requirement for the caller to provide the name of their employer to Protect advisers. The starting point for our advisers will be what the concern is; to identify the risk; what may be preventing the individual from raising the concern; and, to assist or advise them in how best to raise the concern. The caller may not wish to provide the name of their employer. With this in mind when contacting us, staff may:

  • Provide their name only
  • Identify themselves as working for NHS Scotland with or without their name
  • Not provide any information as to their identity or their employer

Out of the 26 public interest cases, 18 provided us with their name and/or contact details, though this is not a prerequisite for seeking advice from Protect. As is the case on the Protect advice line generally, callers may choose to remain anonymous and/or not to leave contact information. In some cases this may be because the individual has contacted us with a very specific query that we were able to deal with in the initial call. In these cases there is no case work element and the individual may feel that it is not necessary to leave their name and/or contact information. In cases where the individual is satisfied with the advice they have been given and is content to leave things there, they will always be informed of the name of their adviser and their ability to call back should they need further advice at a later date.


Email: John.malone@gov.scot

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