Press Release

Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance has its inaugural meeting today

The Minster for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, met with the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance today to mark the first meeting and endorse the importance of the Commission’s work to develop robust quality and safety systems across the health service.

The Commission will be chaired by Dr Deirdre Madden, BL, a leading expert on medical law and ethics. It includes nursing and medical representatives, management representatives and, importantly, two representatives of patients and carers. It will report to the Minister within eighteen months.

The Minister said: “I am very pleased that Dr Madden has taken on this important task. I am confident the members of the Commission are well placed to develop clear and practical recommendations. The aim is to make our health system a place where the highest possible standards of patient safety and quality care are pursued and implemented rigorously by all who work in the health services.

The Lourdes Hospital Inquiry and other health care inquiries have underlined the need for a broad review of patient safety and quality right across our health system. I am determined that we learn the lessons from instances where patients have been harmed. While individual error may play an important part in adverse events we must examine how hospitals and other services can be managed to create an environment in which safety and quality are central to everyone’s job.

In short, we must do everything necessary in management and organisation to eliminate, as far as humanly possible, what have been called ‘system failures’.

Patient safety and quality of care are central, and will drive reform of our health services. I want every patient to have the highest possible confidence in the safety and quality of their care.”

The Minister has asked the Commission to develop proposals for:
•greater accountability within our health system for performance in relation to patient safety;
•more effective reporting of adverse clinical events and complaints in order to learn from them and ensure that the rest of the health system learns from them;
•a clearer role for patients and carers in feeding back on care received;
•ways to ensure health care practice is consistently based on what has been shown to work in other centres;
•a statutory system of licensing of public and private providers of health care; and
•better integration of the work of the different regulatory bodies in the health system in order to achieve a joined up approach and a sharing of best practice.