Current Minister of Health, Simon Harris, has announced that the new National Patient Safety Office will conduct a review of the procedures by which patients can claim for medical negligence compensation.
Speaking at a patient safety conference in Dublin, the Minister for Health announced the new National Patient Safety Office. Mr Harris commented that the organisation- which will report to the Department of Justice and Equality – will “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”.
Amongst other things, the new body will establish a nationwide patient advocacy service, set up a new patient advisory council and establish a patient safety surveillance system. Importantly, it will also review the process for claiming medical negligence compensation.
This review will help progress the proposed Health Information and Patient Safety Bill. This bill hopes to allow patients and their families to disclose adverse medical events. Though the HSE had established guidelines for this open disclosure in 2013, they are not actually being practiced in Irish healthcare facilities.
The news is welcomed by many patient rights campaigners, who have been lobbying for such a review for many years. These patient representatives claim that as there is no statutory duty of candour, new medical negligence claims are “unworkable”. Leo Varadkar, former Minister for Health, is heavily criticised by these groups, as he failed to enforce open disclosure in 2015’s Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill.
The proposed Health Information and Patient Safety Bill also proposes to halt the unauthorised disclosure of health information, to establish the use of advanced technologies to safely exchange health data and to extend the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (HIQA) authority over private healthcare providers. Yet, as the EU is currently reviewing its data protection regulations, these new advances will not come into play for another while.