The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T.D. has announced the awarding of the contract for a new independent Patient Safety Advocacy Service to the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities. This service will support those wishing to make a complaint about their experience of the public health service; and provide support to patients who may have been affected by a patient safety incident. It is anticipated that the service will become operational in the second half of 2019.
This new service will provide people with an opportunity to talk to someone independent of the health service, provide information about how to make a complaint and provide the supports that may be needed throughout the complaints process. The service will initially be focused on the public acute hospital sector.
The National Advocacy Service (NAS) currently provides an independent, confidential and free, issues-based representative advocacy service. NAS is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board (CIB). Speaking about the announcement Angela Black, Chief Executive, CIB said: We are delighted to support the establishment of the Patient Safety Advocacy Service. Congratulations to Nuala Doherty, Chair and to Louise Loughlin, National Manager of NAS and we wish every success to this important and much needed service for citizens.”
The Minister said: “Patient safety is at the core of our health service. It is vital though that we also ensure a person-centred approach for patients and service users when something goes wrong in their care or treatment. The new independent Patient Safety Advocacy Service will provide a free, independent and confidential service to help those who wish to make a complaint about the health service.”
He added: “The awarding of this contract is a significant step towards addressing the important concerns raised to ensure that we have a responsive, compassionate and supportive approach to assisting people when they are unhappy with their care.”
Commenting for the National Advocacy Service, Louise Loughlin, National Manager said that they were delighted to be able to develop a new, free and independent advocacy service for patients from next year. “NAS has extensive experience providing advocacy support to people with disabilities since 2011, including in all health and social care settings covering acute, community and primary care settings.”
A programme to enable the establishment of the service, and recruitment and training of advocates, will now commence.