Whistleblowing - reporting a problem in the NHS
What is whistleblowing
If you’re concerned about something that is happening in your workplace and you report it, you could be a 'whistleblower'.
The issue you raise needs to be one of public interest. This means that it affects other people, such as the general public. For example, if you work in the NHS, you might be concerned about patient safety or care, unsafe working conditions, fraud, or falsifying information about performance.
If you’re a whistleblower, you shouldn’t be treated unfairly or lose your job because you reported the problem. Whistleblowers have legal protection from this type of treatment. Read more about unfair dismissal and whistleblowing.
Whistleblowing in the NHS
From 1 April 2021, there is a new process for dealing with whistleblowing in the NHS.
The Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) can carry out an independent external review of how the whistleblowing has been dealt with. This is usually after people have raised concerns within their workplace.
You usually need to contact the INWO within 12 months of finding out about the problem.
Anyone who provides services for the NHS can report a problem in their workplace. This includes:
- employees, including former employees
- agency workers and others on short term contracts such as locums and bank staff
- contractors including third sector service providers
- trainees and students
- non-executive directors
- anyone working alongside NHS staff such as those in health and social care partnerships.
The INWO has published the National Whistleblowing Standards which set out how NHS service providers must handle whistleblowing.
The Standards say that the identity of the person raising the problem needs to be kept confidential. Also staff must have a person that they can speak to confidentially about their concerns. This person is called a 'confidential contact'.
Whistleblowing advice line
The Independent National Whistleblowing Officer has a free, confidential advice line that provides information and advice about whistleblowing and the NHS in Scotland.