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Launch of the New Independent Patient Advocacy Service

On Wednesday 13 November 2019, Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D. launched the new national independent Patient Advocacy Service (“the Service”) to support patients who wish to make a complaint about the care they receive in a public hospital. The establishment of the Service was one of the recommendations contained in the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (“HIQA”) 2015 report into the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise and the Ombudsman’s 2015 report “Learning to get Better”.

The Service

This Service is aimed at assisting people who wish to make a complaint about the care they have received in a public hospital through the HSE’s complaint process “Your Service, Your Say”. The Service is free and confidential and while it is funded by the Department of Health, it acts independently of the Health Service Executive (“HSE”). The Service is provided nationally by phone, email, through online information and in person. The service will initially deal with public acute hospitals however, it is intended that in the future it will also include community services.

The Advocates

The Service has advocates to assist patients communicate with their hospital in order to assist them to receive the support and information they require to make a formal complaint to the HSE. The advocates are independent and do not act on behalf of the patient. “Patient advocates do not take sides and will not act on behalf of the patient but will seek to ensure that the individual is empowered to have their views, concerns and decisions appropriately addressed”.
Launching the service at the National Patient Safety Conference, Minister Harris stated:
“Patient safety is the cornerstone of our health care system.
I’ve met people across the country who have encountered difficulties in the Irish health service but have felt there was nowhere for them to turn.
This service will offer patients a helping hand when they are unhappy with the care they receive. It is free, independent and run by specially trained patient advocates. I am confident it will offer a responsive, compassionate and supportive service to people when they are unhappy with their care.”
More information about the patient advocacy service can be found on their website here.