Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said all NHS staff should feel free to report concerns about patient safety.
It follows a survey at the weekend which suggests more than one-third of Scottish nurses have been discouraged or told not to report concerns about issues such as staffing levels and patient safety.
Ms Sturgeon, standing in for Alex Salmond at first minister’s questions, said: “Let me make it absolutely clear: I will not tolerate a situation where NHS staff are told not to report patient-safety concerns.”
She was asked by Labour MSP Richard Simpson to respond to the poll, conducted by the Royal College of Nursing.
The survey suggested 37% of nurses have been put off reporting any concerns.
It also showed that 84% of nurses are worried about victimisation, reprisals or a negative effect on their career if they were to report anything, while only 29% are confident their employer would protect them if they spoke up.
The RCN polled 3,151 of its members across the UK in October and November 2011, including 345 in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon said all members of staff have statutory protection to raise issues of concern under the terms of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
She added: “Publicly today I send out a very strong message to all of those working in the NHS that patient safety is paramount. It is their responsibility, it is my responsibility and anyone with concerns should feel free to raise them.”
Mr Simpson called for a confidential, national whistle-blowing helpline for all NHS staff.