On the 17th July 2017, the Scottish Government announced an “Enhanced service for NHS Scotland staff”
The Scottish Government began this announcement stating that:
“Staff in Scotland’s health service will continue to benefit from external support should they have any concerns about patient safety or malpractice”
From 1 August, the NHS Scotland Confidential Alert Line will be re-branded as the Whistleblowing Alert and Advice Services for NHS Scotland (AALS).
This was reported in the Scotsman of the 17th July 2017:
The Scottish Government confirm the enhancements that have been made:
Some personal thoughts:
I have never been a “whistleblower”. I have however raised concerns relating to patient wellbeing and safety in NHS Scotland, and in particular for our older generation. I share the view of Sir Robert Francis that “freedom to speak up” is a better and more encompassing term.
My experience of trying my best to put patients first in NHS Scotland has left me with an interest in this matter and I have followed developments over several years now.
My concern is that this “enhanced service” has taken little account of the evidence presented to the Scottish Parliament from a wide range of individuals and professional bodies, including Sir Robert Francis.
The “enhanced” service will still not be able to independently deal with any concerns raised and so can offer only to “pass concerns on to the appropriate Health Board or scrutiny body for further investigation”. In practice this will be either to the NHS Board the employee works with or to Healthcare Improvement Scotland which is neither independent of Government nor of any of Scotland’s 23 other NHS Boards.
It worries me that senior Scottish Government officials continue to use words such as “grievance” or “pursuers” when talking about those who are trying to put patients first in NHS Scotland. It seems that the Scottish Government are as quick as any of us may be to label individuals. This “expanded service” has been re-labelled in a positive way when the opposite has happened to many of us who have raised concerns about patient care.
I feel that this is a disappointing outcome given the determination of the Scottish Parliament, and the Health and Sport Committee in particular, to ensure that there is freedom in NHS Scotland to speak up and put patients first.
I would suggest that despite this “enhanced service” that it is still going to take a great deal of courage to care in NHS Scotland: