The Patient Advocacy Service has announced plans to expand its advocacy remit to people living in private nursing homes.
The Patient Advocacy Service is an independent, free and confidential Service which currently provides information and support to people who want to make a complaint about an experience they have had in a public acute hospital or HSE-operated nursing home. The Service is delivered by the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS) and funded by the Department of Health (DoH).
Following a competitive tendering process, NAS has been awarded a contract by 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 until October 2027. NAS has been running the Service since 2019.
The Patient Advocacy Service has already been providing empowerment advocacy for people using public acute hospitals since 2019 and for people living in HSE-operated nursing homes since May last year. The new contract will see the Service expand its remit to include complaints advocacy in private nursing homes.
This step forward will enable the Patient Advocacy Service to reach many more nursing homes in Ireland, on a phased basis, providing professional advocacy services to residents and their families if they have a complaint or an issue they wish to be addressed.
The announcement comes as the Patient Advocacy Service has released its latest statistics which show that the number of people contacting the Service has risen by 37% in the past year.
From September 2021 to September 2022, the Service provided information and support to 1740 people, compared to September 2020 – September 2021 when it provided information and support to 1,094 people.
Some of the biggest complaint issues worked on by the Patient Advocacy Service in the past year were around communication, including people’s anxieties being acknowledged but not addressed, staff not communicating healthcare plans, visiting being unavailable, people having difficulty phoning healthcare units and staff speaking to people in a condescending manner.
National Manager for the National Advocacy Service, Louise Loughlin, said: “We are delighted to be able to continue to deliver Ireland’s independent Patient Advocacy Service to support patients through the HSE complaints process. Our latest statistics show this support is needed more than ever.
“Since 2019, when NAS commenced operation of the Service, we have provided advocacy support to over 3,000 people, covering more than 9,000 individual complaints issues. We have also strengthened our cooperation with the HSE with the aim of ensuring that people receive a timely, compassionate and comprehensive response to their healthcare complaints.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the National Patient Safety Office in the Department of Health and nursing homes across Ireland to build a culture of openness and compassion that supports people to have their say in their care, and to live with respect and dignity.”
Anyone looking for advocacy support to make a formal complaint to the HSE, can contact the Patient Advocacy Service helpline on 0818 293003. The helpline is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 4pm, including lunchtimes. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Patient Advocacy Service receives no funding from the HSE and is therefore fully independent of the HSE. More info about the Patient Advocacy Service is available at: patientadvocacyservice.ie
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Why was the Patient Advocacy Service established?
The Patient Advocacy Service was commissioned by the National Patient Safety Office in the Department of Health in October 2018 to provide information and advocacy support to people wishing to a making a complaint through the HSE’s ‘Your Service, Your Say’ complaints process.
The development of a patient advocacy service is an action in the Programme for a Partnership Government 2016. It was also a recommendation in the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (HIQA) 2015 report on the Investigation into Maternity Care in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise and the Ombudsman’s 2015 report ‘Learning to get Better’. The HIQA 2015 report, which was developed in response to investigations into Portlaoise maternity services, recognised the need for patient experiences to be recorded, listened to and learned from.
The report acknowledged the need for such learning to be shared between hospitals, within hospital groups, and nationally through the wider health system. It recommended the establishment of an independent Patient Advocacy Service to support this learning.
When was the Patient Advocacy Service established?
Following a competitive tender process, the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS) was awarded the Department of Health tender to develop the new Patient Advocacy Service.
NAS began development of the new service in January 2019, the service went live on 31 October 2019, and it was officially launched by the Minister for Health Simon Harris on 13 November 2019 at the National Patient Safety Conference in Dublin Castle.
How does the Patient Advocacy Service operate?
The Patient Advocacy Service has a team of patient advocacy officers, advocacy team leads and a service manager providing information and support to patients across Ireland by phone, email and through online information and in person. The support is operated nationally out of a Patient Advocacy Hub in Dublin.
What is a Patient Advocate?
A patient advocate helps patients communicate with their hospital, so they get the information and support they need to make a complaint about the care they received. 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 highlighted.
What does it mean for the health services and staff?
The service encourages patients to communicate with the health services first to resolve their complaint. The Patient Advocacy Service builds positive relationships with the health services, its staff and other advocacy or support services so that good communication is nurtured, and issues can be resolved efficiently and learned from.
How do I find out more?
To find out more visit www.patientadvocacyservice.ie or telephone 0818 293 003 between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.