NHS Shetland is implementing a new national whistleblowing process which will change the way people can raise concerns about patients safety or other harm.
The new national whistleblowing standards are being introduced across the NHS in Scotland today (1 April).
The changes mean that there is a new focus on helping staff raise concerns as early as possible, and on supporting and protecting them when they do raise concerns.
Whistleblowing can be defined as “when a person raises a concern that relates to speaking up, in the public interest, about a service, where an act or omission has created, or may create, a risk of harm or wrong doing”.
This includes an issue that has happened or is likely to happen, and affects the public, other staff or the organisation itself.
NHS Shetland has a whistleblowing champion, non-executive board member Shona Manson, who will provide critical oversight and help the health board work towards a culture of openness.
There is also a whistleblowing executive lead – medical director Kirsty Brightwell – who is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the standards.
Dr Brightwell said: “I am certain everyone at NHS Shetland strives to do their best every day for the Shetland community in the delivery of health and care services. Despite best intentions, things do not always go to plan and we can always learn and improve.
“NHS Scotland has seen examples where people have been aware of problems that could cause harm but they have not had the confidence to try and make a change.
“Staff are already encouraged to do this and their voices can make a big difference, but the standards are there to protect staff where they have already raised an issue and feel it has not been dealt with properly. They also introduce a robust monitoring process.”
Manson added: “I am very pleased to be working with NHS Shetland as the whistleblowing champion and I am encouraged by the steps taken by NHS Shetland so far in implementing the standards.
“The board is committed to continue to work towards a culture of openness and transparency, and the standards are a valuable additional part of this process.
“We will be doing more in the coming weeks to raise awareness and ensure staff feel they can have confidence to speak up to raise concerns when they see harm or wrongdoing putting patient safety at risk. They should never feel speaking up will have negative consequences for themselves.”
Local information on whistleblowing can be found here.
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