Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, has announced that the new National Patient Safety Office will review the current procedures by which patients claim for medical negligence compensation.
The soon-to-be established National Patient Safety Office, announced by the Health Minister whilst speaking at a patient safety conference in Dublin, will report to the Department of Justice and Equality. Mr Harris commented that the organisation will “lead a program of significant patient safety measures”.
The new office will also establish a patient advocacy service for patients across Ireland, the organisation of a new patient advisory council and the use of a patient safety surveillance system. It will also review the procedures for claiming medical negligence compensation.
This review was organised to help progress the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill. This proposes to allow patients and their families to disclose adverse medical events. The HSE had established guidelines for this open disclosure in 2013, though to date they have not been applied to Irish hospitals.
Many patient rights campaigners have been lobbying for such a review for many years, claiming that – without that statutory duty of candour – any new medical negligence claims are impossible. They also criticise Leo Varadkar, former Minister for Health, for failing to enforce open disclosure in 2015’s Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill.
The Health Information and Patient Safety Bill also proposes to end the unauthorised disclosure of health information, establish the use of new technologies to exchange health data, to extend the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (HIQA) hold over private healthcare providers. However, until the EU revises its data protection regulations, none of these innovations are likely to be enforced.