We are clear that all staff should have the confidence to speak up and know that their whistleblowing concerns will be treated seriously and investigated properly. Work is already under way to develop a robust package of measures that complement existing policies and support staff to raise any concerns that they have.
We welcome Sir Robert Francis’s freedom to speak up review, which will inform our thinking, and we have recently consulted on introducing a duty of candour across health and social care.
Will the cabinet secretary, as the Francis review recommends, review the law to prevent discrimination and victimisation such as has been suffered by my constituent Dr Sukhomoy Das, which forced him to take Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board to an expensive employment tribunal to prove his case?
I will not discuss individual cases, but I can tell Mr Ingram that the Scottish Government has fully supported the United Kingdom Government’s commitment to legislate to protect whistleblowers who are applying for NHS jobs from discrimination. Officials in the Scottish Government have worked closely with their relative English legal counterparts to ensure that NHS Scotland employers are included in the UK-wide legislation, and I am happy to keep Adam Ingram updated on the progress of that work.
With regard to having an open and honest reporting culture in our national health service, can the minister state with complete confidence that the NHS in Scotland does not operate a blacklist that prevents staff who have raised serious concerns about services from gaining employment elsewhere in our NHS?
As I have just said to Adam Ingram, we fully support a commitment to legislate to protect whistleblowers who are applying for NHS jobs from discrimination, and we are progressing that with the UK Government.
I am very clear that we need a cultural change in the NHS, which is why we have brought forward the duty of candour. That is about creating a culture in which people feel able to speak up about their concerns. We also have the whistleblowing helpline, which has been in place for quite some time and offers staff the opportunity to raise any concerns. The duty of candour will add to that by helping to create an open and transparent system in the NHS and encouraging people to speak out about any concerns that they have.