Press Release

Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney launches Patient Safety First Initiatives with Stakeholders

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D along with other key participants, today (23rd September, 2010) announced a number of significant initiatives including the establishment of a new National Framework to drive Clinical Effectiveness through which patients will be assured of the provision of high-quality care based on established best practice. The Minister and other stakeholders also signed the ‘Patient Safety First’ declaration of commitment as part of the National Framework for Clinical Effectiveness.

‘Patient Safety First’ is an awareness raising initiative through which healthcare organisations declare their ongoing commitment to patient safety. Through participation in this initiative, those involved commit to play their part in improving the safety and quality of healthcare services. This commitment is intended to create the momentum for positive change towards patient safety.

Today’s event also announced the launch of a public consultation on draft ‘National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare’ by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

Signing the Patient Safety First declaration of commitment, the Minister said: “The Patient Safety First Project is about doing things differently to improve outcomes for patients.”

“Almost one in ten people who are admitted to hospital experience an adverse clinical event. One in a hundred of these result in injury or death. We know this from international data. We in Ireland, along with most other countries recognise that these figures are too high. In order to ensure that patients receive the best possible care, we have to improve the safety record in our health services.

Improvements can only take place if everyone working in the Health Service is prepared to work in an open and honest way that acknowledges our failures in order to learn from them. We need to pro-actively address the lessons and this can be done through the comprehensive programme we have undertaken under the banner of Patient Safety First.

Above all, patients want doctors, nurses and other health professionals to be open and honest with them about their health. If something unplanned has happened to them, then they want to know about it. The Patient Safety Programme provides for this. It also allows patients to comment on their experiences, both positive and negative. It will give them a voice that they may not feel they have at the moment.”

Signatories to the ‘Patient Safety First’ declaration of commitment are:

  • An Bord Altranais
  • College of Psychiatry of Ireland
  • Health Information and Quality Authority
  • Health Service Executive
  • Independent Hospitals Association of Ireland
  • Irish Dental Association
  • Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation
  • Mental Health Commission
  • Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • The Department of Health & Children

The Minister also welcomed the launch of a public consultation on draft ‘National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).The Minister urged the fullest participation in the consultation process.

“This consultation process is a vital stage on the road to the introduction of a licensing system for hospitals and other facilities providing health services. In order to get a licence, the service will have to meet with certain standards. This will be a transparent system which will allow patients the reassurance of knowing that they are receiving a quality assured service.”

In a further initiative at today’s Patient Safety First launch, the Minister announced arrangements for a National Framework for Clinical Effectiveness.

The Framework will provide the basis for the adoption of national guidelines for the treatment of diseases and illnesses that are based on best available evidence and experience. The steps being taken will also guide and promote the implementation of clinical audit programmes throughout the health system.

It will address the existing gap at national level for the systematic transfer of clinical best practice, knowledge, and expertise into the everyday delivery of healthcare. The Minister announced that this work would be led by Professor Hilary Humphreys, Professor of Clinical Microbiology and Head of Department at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and said that “The National Framework will significantly strengthen the evidence base for prioritising areas of clinical care, and lead to improved outcomes for patients and provide them with reassurance about the quality of their care”.

Finally, the Patient Safety First event also included the launch of a new Patients’ Charter “Your Health Services and you” as well as an online patient safety course for doctors which has been developed jointly by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with financial assistance from the Health Service Executive.

Further details are also available on a new website

Clinical Guidelines

Guidelines are systematically developed statements to support professionals and patients when making decisions about the most appropriate care in particular circumstances.

Clinical Audit

Clinical audit is a clinically-led quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through systematic review of care against explicit criteria and acting to improve care when standards are not met.