The Patient Advocacy Service has launched its 2021 Annual Report. The Report presents the key statistics and achievements of the Service during a year when Covid-19 restrictions continued to impact on our work and the people we support.
Despite the difficulties posed by Covid-19, in 2021 the Patient Advocacy Service provided advocacy in 1,205 complaint enquiries, an increase of 125% on 2020.
The Patient Advocacy Service, commissioned by the Department of Health and delivered by the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS), provides support to people who wish to make a complaint to the HSE about their care in a Public Acute Hospital or a HSE-operated Nursing Home.
In just its second full year of operation, the Service continued to face several challenges as hospitals and their staff responded to the changing guidelines around the pandemic, resulting in restrictions on visiting, staff shortages, meetings being postponed, and delays across the complaints process.
During this period, people experienced traumatising and life changing events. We witnessed first-hand the positive impact advocacy, provided by our Service, made to their lives during these difficult times.
The Patient Advocacy Service continued to operate as normal during 2021, with our staff working remotely and demonstrating professionalism, empathy and innovation to embrace all forms of communication available, such as online technologies, to support people across Ireland.
The Service also continued to build its capacity and effectiveness to ensure ongoing complaints advocacy to people across Ireland. This included signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the HSE outlining our joint commitment to further improve support services for people who wish to make a complaint about the care they have received in public acute hospitals.
We also extended the remit of the Service to include support for people in HSE-operated nursing homes wishing to make a complaint about care they have received.
Looking forward, NAS was recently awarded the contract from the National Patient Safety Office in the Department of Health (DoH) to deliver the Patient Advocacy Service for a further five years, from October 2022 to October 2027.
These important steps forward will ensure that the Patient Advocacy Service can continue to help people across Ireland, upholding their human rights and supporting them to have their voice heard.