Reforms to protect whistleblowers raising concerns about patient safety in NHS Scotland, that were delayed because of covid-19, are set to come into force in April next year.
The creation of the role of national independent whistleblowing officer, with powers to review how NHS boards, primary care services and independent providers handle cases, was due to happen this summer.
The Scottish government says it has had to consider other pressures on the NHS as it restarts services ahead of winter and a potential second spike in coronavirus cases.
At the start of this year whistleblowing ‘champions’ were appointed to health boards as part of the Scottish government’s broader reaction to instances of bullying and mistrust in the NHS, including those raised by the Sturrock review that published its findings in May 2019.
John Sturrock QC was asked to investigate allegations of widespread bullying in NHS Highland that had led to some members of staff leaving their posts and in some cases, unable to work again.
In November last year, it was revealed that independent researchers were being brought in to investigate claims of bullying in Argyll & Bute.
The reforms coming in next year will see the Scottish Public Sector Ombudsman become responsible for setting a ‘model procedure’ that the NHS should follow.
The Ombudsman will also take over the role of the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) for the health service in Scotland.
In a written parliamentary answer, the Scottish government says new whistleblowing standards will be published on 1st April 2021 when the new arrangements come into effect.