Scottish Parliament
Monday, 27 May, 2019

This is a very complex area to address and the College suggests that the Committee make a realistic comparison between other systems both in the UK and internationally before making a fully informed judgement. As an example, in the Netherlands the Whistleblowers Authority Act came into force in 2016 and obliges all organisations in the Netherlands with more than 50 employees to introduce an internal reporting procedure for reporting abuses. The “House for Whistleblowers” is based at the National Ombudsman’s office. There is a very comprehensive academic paper The Dutch Whistleblowers Authority in an international perspective: a comparative study which undertakes a comparison of tasks of Ombudsmen and Whistleblowers Authorities (p.39).  In four of the countries included in this research, the whistleblowing agency is part of the National Ombudsman.

The order may “improve the exercise of public functions in regard to efficiency and effectiveness by enabling the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to exercise similar functions for whistleblowing complaints as they do for patient complaints about health services” (page 1 explanatory notes), however by conferring the role and functions of an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for NHS Scotland (INWO), upon the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman there is a concern that the intended potency of the INWO will be lost and merely absorbed into a multitude of other functions.

The appointment of a whistleblowing champion alone will not be sufficient to see a fundamental change in culture, however the College supports the creation of this role and recognises it conveys an important message.

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