Simon Harris has announced that one of the roles of the new National Patient Safety Office will be to review the current medical negligence claims process.
The Health Minister announced the establishment of the National Patient Safety Office while addressing delegates at a patient safety conference in Dublin on Monday. Mr Harris said that, under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Equality, the new Office would “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”.
Among its roles, the National Patient Safety Office will be responsible for establishing a national patient advocacy service, the introduction of a patient safety surveillance system and the setting up of a national advisory council for patient safety. It has also been charged with conducting a review of the medical negligence claims process.
The review of the medical negligence claims process is hoped to progress the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill – a bill that proposes the open disclosure of adverse medical events to patients and their families. Although the HSE produced national guidelines for open disclosure in 2013, subsequent events have demonstrated that the guidelines are not being applied in Irish hospitals.
Patient safety campaigners and leading legal figures have been seeking a review of the medical negligence claims process for years. They claim that without a statutory duty of candour, any new medical negligence claims process is unworkable and criticise former Health Minister Leo Varadkar for missing an opportunity to enforce open disclosure in the Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill 2015.
Other proposals in the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill include preventing the unauthorised disclosure of patient health information, using modern technology to facilitate the safe exchange of healthcare data, and extending the Health Information and Quality Authority´s (HIQA´s) remit to private health service providers. Unfortunately the measures are unlikely to be introduced until the EU´s revision of its data protection regulations are finalised.