Scotland politics

NHS Scotland whistleblower line announced

A whistleblowing hotline for NHS workers will be trialled in Scotland, in the wake of a BBC investigation into hospital safety.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the move would strengthen the existing help for staff who want to raise concerns.

There will also be changes to the way serious incidents are reported.

The BBC investigation revealed 300 previously unpublished health board reports into adverse events, including the deaths of 105 patients.

The documents, released after a freedom of information request, included a person being blown up while on oxygen therapy after lighting a cigarette.

Other reports showed procedural problems in hospitals meaning patients died before they could be transferred and supplies of drugs or emergency equipment not being available.

Mr Salmond made the announcement during first minister's questions, as he was quizzed by Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie on what action the government may take in light of the BBC report.

The first minister expressed his sympathies to patients and families who had "experienced care which fell short of standards which we all expect".

He said Healthcare Improvement Scotland, which oversees quality in the NHS, would be involved in a review of current "adverse events management" procedures with a view to a national approach to reporting such incidents being brought in.

Mr Salmond also told MSPs: "We'll be piloting a confidential alert line for National Health Service staff who wish to raise a concern about practices in NHS Scotland."

He said the telephone line would "support and enhance" existing procedures.

The first minister also said the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, which had played a role in cutting hospital deaths in the past few years, would be enhanced.

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