Whistleblowing Policy

Document Control

Policy Number


Policy Manual/System HR Policy
Author Head of Partnership Version No 3
Reviewer HR Policy Group Implementation Date 01/08/2013
Signed By Director of Workforce Last Review Date

Next Review Date



1.         FUNCTION


This policy should be used for any worker to raise a qualifying disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which protects the public by providing a remedy for individuals who suffer a detriment by any act or any deliberate failure to act by their employer for raising a genuine concern, whether it be a risk to patients, financial malpractice, or other wrongdoing.  These are called “qualifying disclosures”.  A qualifying disclosure is one made in good faith by an employee who has a reasonable belief that one of the following is being, has been, or is likely to be, committed:


  • A criminal offence
  • A miscarriage of justice
  • An act creating risk to health and safety
  • An act causing damage to the environment
  • A breach of any other legal obligation, or
  • Concealment of any of the above



2.         LOCATION


This policy is available to all employees, workers and ex-employees/workers of the organisation whether they have concerns about misconduct or wrongdoing.   In this context throughout this document, the term staff, includes all employees/workers, ex-employees / workers whether full-time or part-time, self employed, or employed through an agency.


Staff may have concerns about what is happening at work.  Usually these can be easily resolved.  However, when the person feels serious concern because it is about a possible danger, professional misconduct or financial malpractice that might affect patients, colleagues, or NHS Fife itself, it can be difficult to know what to do.


Staff may be worried about raising such an issue and may think it best to keep it to themselves, perhaps feeling it is none of their business or that it is only a suspicion.  Staff may also feel that raising the matter would be disloyal to colleagues, to managers or to NHS Fife.  It may also be the case that a member of staff has said something but found that they have spoken to the wrong person or raised the issue in the wrong way and are not sure what to do next.


NHS Fife is committed to running the organisation in the best way possible.  This policy has been introduced to reassure all staff that it is safe and acceptable to speak up, and to enable them to raise any concern which they may have at an early stage and in the right way without fear of reprisal or victimisation.  Rather than wait for proof, it is preferable if a matter is raised when it is still a concern.


If a member of staff feels that something is of concern, and they feel that it is something which they think NHS Fife should know about or look into, they should use this policy.  If, however, a member of staff wishes to make a complaint about their employment or how they have been treated, they should follow NHS Fife’s Dealing with Employee Grievances policy or NHS Fife’s Dignity at Work policy, which can be obtained from their manager or via the intranet.


If in doubt – raise it!


With these assurances, NHS Fife hopes that staff will raise concerns openly.  However, it is recognised that there may be circumstances when staff would prefer to speak to someone in confidence first, such as the designated contacts listed in Appendix 1.  If this is the case, the member of staff raising the concern should say so at the outset.  If the organisation is asked not to disclose someone’s identity, we will not do so without that person’s consent unless required by law.  Staff should understand that there may be times when the organisation will be unable to resolve a concern without revealing someone’s identity, for example where personal evidence is essential.  In such cases, it will be discussed with the member of staff whether and how the matter can best proceed.


It should be remembered that if staff do not disclose their identity, it will be much more difficult for NHS Fife to look into the matter.  It may also not be possible to protect the staff member’s position or give them feedback.  Accordingly, a member of staff raising a concern should not assume that NHS Fife can provide the same assurances where a concern is reported anonymously.





Responsibility for the application of this policy rests with Line Managers and HR staff within NHS Fife.


4.         OPERATIONAL SYSTEM            


4.1       NHS Fife’s Commitment to Staff


            Your Safety


The Board, the Chief Executive and the trade unions / professional organisations are committed to this policy.  If a member of staff raises a concern under this policy, they will not be at risk of losing their job or suffering any detriment (such as a reprisal or victimisation) provided the staff member acts in good faith.  It does not matter if they are mistaken or if there is an innocent explanation for the issues that gave rise to their concerns.  A member of staff raising a concern will not be asked to prove their claim.  Where a member of staff maliciously raises a matter they know to be untrue this will be investigated through the NHS Fife Employee Conduct policy.   


4.2       Raising a Concern


            If members of staff are unsure about raising a concern, they can get independent advice at any stage from their trade union / professional organisation, or from one of the organisations listed at the end of this policy, Appendix 2.  Staff should also remember that they do not need to have firm evidence before raising a concern.  However, they should explain as fully as possible the information or circumstances that gave rise to the concern.


4.3       How to Raise a Concern


?       If a member of staff has a concern about a risk, malpractice or wrongdoing at work, it is hoped that they will feel able to raise it first with their line manager or lead clinician.  This may be done verbally or in writing.




?       If a member of staff feels unable to raise the matter with their line manager or lead clinician, they should raise the matter with the next again line manager, the relevant Clinical Director or equivalent service manager.  Alternatively, they may contact the Director of Workforce, a member of the Senior HR Team or the Board’s Employee Director, or a Partnership Co-ordinator, see Appendix 1 for contact details.




?          If a worker has no direct line manager or lead clinician within NHS Fife, they should contact the Director of Workforce, a member of the Senior HR Team, the Board’s Employee Director or a Partnership Co-ordinator, see Appendix 1 for contact details.



?          If these channels have been followed and the member of staff still has concerns, or if they feel that the matter is so serious that they cannot discuss it with the above, they should contact any member of NHS Fife’s Strategic Management Team, or the NHS Fife Chairman, see Appendix 1 for contact details;




Any member of staff who has a concern can also contact the National Confidential Alert Line for NHS Scotland Employees.  The number is 0800 008 6112.   The helpline is available weekdays between 08:00 and 18:00 with an out of hours answering service on weekends and public holidays.

NHS Fife recognises its accountability within NHS Scotland.  In light of this you can also contact:


Scottish Government Health & Social Care Directorate

St Andrew’s House

Edinburgh  EH1 3DG

Tel: (0131) 556 8400


4.4      How NHS Fife Will Handle the Matter


Once a concern has been raised, it will be assessed, and consideration will be given as to what action is appropriate.  This may involve an informal review, an internal inquiry or a more formal investigation.  The member of staff raising the concern will be advised who will be handling the matter, how they can contact them, and what further assistance may be needed.  The person handling the matter on behalf of the organisation will write to the member of staff summarising the concern and advising how they propose to handle it, and providing a timeframe for feedback.  If the concern has been misunderstood, or there is any information missing, the member of staff should highlight this to the person handling the matter.


When raising a concern, it may be helpful to know if the member of staff has a view on how the matter might be resolved.  If the member of staff has any personal interest in the matter, they should confirm this at the outset.  If it is felt that the concern falls more properly within the scope of one of the other of NHS Fife’s policies, this will also be agreed with the member of staff.


Where a concern is brought to the attention of a manager which relates to a different area of NHS Fife, the manager must bring it to the attention of the relevant line manager.


Managers will give feedback on the outcome of any investigation in writing.  It should be noted that it may not be possible to give details of the precise actions taken, where this would infringe a duty of confidence owed to another person.  While it cannot be guaranteed that all matters will be responded to in the way that the member of staff might wish, NHS Fife will handle the matter fairly and properly.



The investigation will be concluded within a reasonable timescale.  The timescales should allow for flexibility given the possible complexity of concerns raised.  Timescales should be reasonable and communicated to all parties.  Any changes made to those timescales should likewise be notified.


At all stages of the process any staff involved will have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union / professional organisation representative.


4.5       Independent Advice


If any member of staff is unsure whether to use this policy, or if they require confidential advice at any stage, in addition to the Director of Workforce or the designated officers as detailed at Appendix 1, they may contact their trade union / professional organisation.


4.6       External Contacts


While NHS Fife hopes that this policy gives the reassurance needed to raise a concern internally, it is also recognised that there may be circumstances where a member of staff can properly report a concern to an outside body.   NHS Fife would rather staff raised a matter with the appropriate regulator than not at all.  Trade unions / professional organisations will be able to advise on such a course of action.   A list of external bodies is detailed at Appendix 2.


4.7       Complaints About the Chief Executive


If the concern is about the Chief Executive, then it should be made to the Chair of NHS Fife Board, who will decide on how the investigation will proceed.


4.8       Debrief


Depending on the outcome, it may be appropriate to undertake a debrief in order to review the case, any lessons learned and agree any further general organisational improvement actions identified during the process.  Involvement in such a discussion will be determined on a case-by-case basis.


4.9       Monitoring & Review


NHS Fife is responsible for this policy and will review it regularly.  The operation of this policy will be monitored by the Area Partnership Forum, and if members of staff have any comments or questions, these should be brought to the attention of trade union / professional organisation representatives.  Non members should address comments or questions to the Employee Director.


4.10    Who We Consulted


This policy was developed locally in partnership with trade union / professional organisations, and meets the minimum requirements set out in the Implementing & Reviewing Whistleblowing Arrangements in NHS Scotland PIN Policy.



Appendix 1


Designated Officers


·               Partnership Co-ordinators:  01592 643355 ext 20146

        01592 265889

  • Employee Director 01592 643355, ext 28487


  • NHS Fife Director of Workforce, 01592 648136
  • Head of Staff Governance, 01592 643355, ext 21166
  • Senior HR Manager, 01592 643355, ext 28692
  • Head of HR, 01592 643355, ext 28607


  • Health & Social Care Divisional General Manager (West), 03451 555555 ext 401453
  • Health & Social Care Divisional General Manager (East), 03451 555555 Ext. 441179
  • Health & Social Care Divisional General Manager (Fife-wide), 03451 555555 ext 441180


  • NHS Fife Medical Director, 01592 648077
  • NHS Fife Nurse Director, 01592 647998
  • NHS Fife Director of Acute Services, 01592 648189
  • NHS Fife Head of Corporate Services, 01592 643355, ext 28852
  • NHS Fife Director of Estates, Facilities & Capital Services, 01592 648134
  • NHS Fife Director of Finance, 01592 648139
  • NHS Fife Director of Public Health, 01592 226459


  • NHS Fife Chief Executive, 01592 648080
  • NHS Fife Chairman, 01592 648080



N.B.The list of designated contacts will be expanded once training has been provided to additional contacts identified to undertake this role within NHS Fife.


 Appendix 2


Further information may be available from:


·               HSE

            Belford House

            59 Belford Road

            Edinburgh  EH4 3UE



            Mercantile Chambers

            53 Bothwell Street

            Glasgow  G2 6TS



·               Scottish Information Commissioner


            Doubledykes Road

            St Andrews  KY16 9DS


  • BSI Code of Practice on Whistleblowing Arrangements

            Organisations can download a free copy of the 2008

British Standards Institution’s Code of Practice on Whistleblowing Arrangements from www.pcaw.co.uk/bsi


·               Public Concern at Work

            For Information about the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, please visit:             www.pcaw.co.uk/law/uklegislation.htm


·               NHSScotland Counter Fraud Service (CFS)

            Fraud Hotline on – 0800 15 16 28



·               Health Care Improvement Scotland

            Gyle Square

            1 South Gyle Crescent

            Edinburgh  EH12 9EB

            Tel: 0131 623 4300



  •       Audit Scotland

            110 George Street

            Edinburgh   EH2 4LH

            Tel: 0131 625 1500



·               General Chiropractic Council

            44 Wicklow Street

            London  WC1X 9HL


            Tel: 020 7713 5155


?          General Dental Council

            37 Wimpole Street

            LondonW1G 8DQ


            Tel: 020 7167 6000


·               General Medical Council

            GMC Scotland


            The Tun

            4 Jackson’s Entry

            Edinburgh  EH8 8PJ


            Tel: 0131 525 8700


·               General Optical Council

            41 Harley Street

            London  W1G 8DJ


            Tel: 020 7580 3898


·               General Osteopathic Council

            176 Tower Bridge Road

            LondonSE1 3LU


            Tel: 020 7357 6655


·               Health and Care Professions Council

            184 Kennington Park Road

            LondonSE11 4BU


            Tel: 0845 300 6184


·               Nursing & Midwifery Council

            Ground Floor

            114-116 George Street

            EdinburghEH2 4LH


            Tel: 0131 624 5000


  •       The General Pharmaceutical Council

25 Canada Square

EdinburghE14 5LQ


Tel: 0203 713 800


  • The British Psychological Society

St Andrews House

48 Princess Road East

Leicester  LE1 7DR


Tel: 0116 254 9568

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