A confidential hotline for staff with concerns about NHS services in Scotland has been extended for a further year.
The NHS Scotland Confidential Alert Line has been running for three years to give NHS workers independent and external support and advice about whistleblowing concerns.
The Scottish government said it will continue to review the service as part of its package of measures aimed to support NHS staff with any concerns about practice.
It is set to introduce an Independent National Whistleblowing Officer to scrutinise the way whistleblowing cases are handled, as part of its response to Sir Robert Francis’ 2015 Freedom to Speak Up review.
The role is designed as an independent and external review of the way concerns are handled.
Each health board in Scotland has also appointed non-executive Whistleblowing Champions.
Scotland’s health secretary Shona Robison (pictured) said: “The Scottish government’s aim is that all staff should have the confidence to speak up without fear and with the knowledge that any genuine concern will be treated seriously and investigated properly.”
The phone line was initially set up as a pilot in 2013, which was extended in 2014. It is run by the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work.
During the pilot it dealt with calls about 191 cases, including 54 on patient safety.
Between August 2014 and December 2015 it received calls about 65 cases and 26 were about patient safety.
Robinson said the confidential phone line offered staff “an additional safe place where they can confidentially raise any concerns they may have about malpractice and wrongdoing in NHs Scotland”.
She added: “I have always been very clear that health boards must ensure that it is safe and acceptable for staff to speak up about any concerns they may have, particularly in relation to patient safety.”
The Alert Line is on 0800 008 6112.
The extension will run for one year until July 2017.