Whistleblowing Policy : how to raise whistleblowing concerns

If you are an employee or former employee, this guide will help you to understand the ways you can raise a whistleblowing concern.


The National Whistleblowing Standards apply to all employees and former employees. In addition, they apply to workers such as bank, agency and sessional workers.

Types of concerns

The National Whistleblowing Standards provide an overview of what should be considered when raising a concern.

A whistleblowing concern is different to a grievance. A grievance is typically a personal complaint about an individual’s own employment situation.

If your concern relates to a grievance, please refer to the NHSScotland Grievance Policy.

Where the concern relates to bullying or harassing behaviours that impact on the working environment, please refer to the NHSScotland Bullying and Harassment Policy.

Roles and responsibilities

There is a range of standard expectations on all parties including HR, trade union representatives and occupational health which underpins all policies. Find out more about NHSScotland workforce policy standard roles and responsibilities. In addition, specific responsibilities that apply to whistleblowing are provided in Part 4 of the Whistleblowing Standards.

These include the requirement to record reported whistleblowing concerns. A mechanism has been developed for this and details are available in our guide to Recording whistleblowing concerns.

How to raise a concern

The procedures for raising and handling whistleblowing concerns are detailed in the National Whistleblowing Standards. The Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) website also provides information about who can raise a concern.

A concern would normally be raised with the manager, or a more senior manager where this is more appropriate. NHSScotland Boards have designated whistleblowing contacts, who have been given special responsibility and training in dealing with whistleblowing concerns.

NHSScotland Boards also have dedicated non-executive whistleblowing champions. Their role is to seek and provide assurance that their Health Board is complying with the whistleblowing policy. The whistleblowing champion does not have an operational role and will not investigate cases.

The INWO is the final stage for whistleblowing concerns about the NHS in Scotland. If you remain dissatisfied with an NHS organisation after its process has concluded, you can ask the INWO to look into your concern.

Other ways to raise concerns

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS)

HIS is a statutory body that works with healthcare providers to drive and support improvements in the quality of healthcare.

If your concern is about the quality of health care in NHSScotland, you can raise your concern directly with HIS.

HIS can be contacted on 0131 623 4300 or 0141 225 6999.

Visit the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website.

NHSScotland Counter Fraud Services (CFS)

CFS works in partnership with all of the NHS in Scotland. Their job is to protect Scotland’s health from the impact of financial crime. They provide a comprehensive counter fraud service through a centrally based, professionally qualified team of experienced specialists, dedicated only to counter fraud work.

If your concern is about fraud in NHSScotland you can raise your concern directly with CFS.

CFS can be contacted on 01506 705200.

Visit the Counter Fraud Services website.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

HSE is the regulator for health and safety at work in Great Britain. HSE leads the health and safety system and, in partnership with local authority co-regulators, secures compliance with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

HSE’s aim is to prevent death, injury and ill health to those at work and those affected by work activities. If your concern is about health and safety issues at work, you can raise your concern directly with HSE.

HSE can be contacted on 0300 003 1647.

Visit the Health and Safety Executive website.

Audit Scotland

Audit Scotland helps the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission to make sure organisations that spend public money in Scotland use it properly, efficiently and effectively.

Audit Scotland staff and firms of auditors appointed by Audit Scotland carry out the audits to check whether organisations manage their finances to the highest standards and achieve the best possible value for public money.

If your concern is about the use of public money you may raise your concern directly with Audit Scotland.

Audit Scotland can be contacted on 0131 625 1500.

Visit the Audit Scotland website.

Whistleblowing advice and information

In addition, the confidential, independent Whistleblowing advice and information line is also available to support employees who are unsure about whether or how to raise a concern. It can also offer support to managers who are handling whistleblowing concerns.

Find out more about the Whistleblowing advice and information line.

You can contact them on Freephone 0800 008 6112 or email INWO@spso.gov.scot.