Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for NHS Scotland engagement event: outcomes

Report from the May 2018 engagement event, focussing on the key areas of the proposed role and remit of the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer.

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Executive Summary


E1 The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport announced in 2015 that the role and functions of an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer ( INWO) for NHS Scotland would be established. This was in direct response to the recommendations which came out of the Freedom to Speak Up Review, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC. Although the Review was related entirely to NHS England, it provided independent advice and recommendations aimed at creating an open and honest reporting culture.

E1.1 Following this announcement the proposed role and remit for the INWO were the subject of a full public Scottish Government consultation from November 2015 to February 2016. 58 responses were received, the majority of which were from health-related organisations and individuals. The proposals outlined in the consultation were welcomed with strong support.

E1.2 The consultation identified The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman ( SPSO) to be the preferred host to undertake the new role and functions of the INWO. The Scottish Government engaged closely with the SPSO following this outcome to start to develop and consider the policy, powers and model required for the role to be effective.

Scope and content of the workshops

E1.3 The Scottish Government commissioned Tracy Boylin to run four workshops, which were held with a total of 39 delegates attending. Delegates included 14 whistleblowers; academics; staffside representatives; HR Directors and Deputy Directors; and, Non-Executive Whistleblowing Champions. In addition Rosemary Agnew, the Ombudsman attended one of the workshops and also a deputy from the National Guardians Office in England. All four workshops were facilitated by Tracy Boylin, the author of this Report, and officers from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman assisted facilitating the separate table discussions and ensuring all delegate views were captured. Officers from Scottish Government attended each day to provide context in terms of the background and rationale for these workshops and to oversee the smooth running of the arrangements for the workshops. Appendix A shows the session plans and areas the workshop covered. When setting out and planning the workshops it was also considered relevant not to lose the information already received from the Consultation responses and to reflect and consider this alongside the outcomes from the Workshops.

E1.4 Twenty six evaluation forms were completed and handed in by delegates. 13 delegates thought the workshops were good and 13 rated them as excellent. A mini evaluation report compiled by the Scottish Government is attached at Appendix B.

E1.5 The workshops, as can be seen from the session outline in Appendix A, focussed on the key areas of the proposed role and remit of the INWO. Delegates welcomed the opportunity to engage and assist in informing the process. This led to constructive feedback and good ideas from all delegates. This report is informed by the responses of the delegates who attended the workshops along with the additional information from the earlier consultation and therefore may not and cannot necessarily represent the views of a wider population. The workshops were also held under Chatham House Rules and delegates could add their views to the anonymised feedback the facilitator was taking at each table. There was also the opportunity to complete post-it notes with views and to leave them for collection in the workshop venue. Therefore, in terms of allocating actual percentages from delegates to the views collected from each workshop, it is not possible for the purposes of this report. All that can be provided is a summary of delegate feedback at the end of each discussion. This represents what many of the delegates were feeding back or just a small number.


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