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Orkney health board to view first whistleblowing report

The Balfour hospital in Kirkwall.
The Balfour hospital in Kirkwall.

Later this week, the board of NHS Orkney will look at the authority’s first annual whistleblowing report.

Prepared by the head of assurance and improvement, the report shows that two concerns were raised and dealt with over the last year – albeit with the investigations taking more time than hoped.

The national whistleblowing standards came into force in NHS Scotland one year ago.  They set out how the NHS has to address any issues marked as a “whistleblowing concern.”

The standards can apply to a range of issues – from patient care and safety, to fraud or abuse of authority.

Any organisation delivering a service on behalf of NHS Scotland must also abide by them.

NHS Orkney finds two areas for improvement

The report contains little detail as to the exact issues raised within NHS Orkney. However, it says, as a result of them being looked into, two areas that could be improved were found.

These were:

  • the use of risk assessments as part of care planning within the inpatient areas
  • refreshing the discharge policy for Kirkwall’s Balfour Hospital

The former of these has seen improvements completed, while progress is being made on the second.

Of the original complaints raised, both were closed after investigation. One was partially upheld and the other was not upheld.

However, both took longer to deal with than hoped, requiring extensions to the timescales.

The investigation process wasn’t completed within the 20-day time frame for either concern and the average timescale was 70 days.

Report says extended timescale allowed for ‘thorough investigation’

The report says this allowed for a “thorough investigation in line with standards.”

The acknowledgment of one of the concerns also fell outside the five-day reporting period. This was because a whistleblowing email inbox was being monitored by two members of staff who ended up being absent at the same time.

The report says this problem is now sorted, with a system of cover introduced.

The report also showed that 126 members of staff with NHS Orkney have carried out their whistleblowing training, with 27 more in the process.

The NHS Orkney board will meet on Thursday April 28. The members will be invited to take assurance from the report.

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