Press Release

Patient safety is the fundamental cornerstone of our health service – Minister Harris

Minister opens the 2nd National Patient Safety Office (NPSO) Conference

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD said today that patient safety is the fundamental cornerstone of our health service. The Minister was speaking at the opening of the 2nd National Patient Safety Office (NPSO) Conference in The Printworks, Dublin Castle.

The National Patient Safety Office works across the three areas of patient safety surveillance, patient safety policy and advocacy, and clinical effectiveness.

Today’s conference will see the launch of:
– National Standards for Conduct of Reviews of Patient Safety Incident, commissioned by the Department following the Chief Medical Officer’s 2014 Portlaoise Report, and developed by HIQA and the Mental Health Commission and
– iNAP – Ireland’s National Action Plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Addressing over 500 attendees, including health professionals, regulators, policy makers, educators and researchers, health service managers and patient representatives, the Minister said, “This event is an excellent opportunity to reflect on progress, consider challenges and plan together how we can deliver safe, effective care, where good quality patient outcomes are our primary focus. It is less than a year since I launched the National Patient Safety Office and I am very pleased to see the Office driving strong policy direction in such an important area”.

The Director of the National Patient Safety Office Dr Kathleen Mac Lellan commented that ‘For the first time the Department has a national patient safety surveillance system and while it is early days yet we will gather information from many sources including the national patient safety experience survey. We will use this information to identify gaps and patient safety priorities in order to direct the health system and make good patient safety policy. This is with the aim of enhancing patient experiences, preventing harm, improving patient outcomes and saving lives and ensuring robust patient safety systems are in place.

The Minister said, “I will also shortly be bringing forward the general scheme of a new Patient Safety Licensing Bill, which will introduce a regulatory system through licensing for all hospitals in Ireland, as well as certain designated high risk activities that take place outside a hospital setting. This new licensing system, where HIQA will be the licensing authority, will promote the development of robust clinical governance frameworks throughout the health service and serve to aid in the effort to ensure a safe, responsive and accountable approach to the delivery of health care.”

The Minister went on to note that, “Picking up the theme of today’s conference I view patient safety as everyone’s business and strongly support the work of the HSE in implementing a three year patient safety programme and the emphasis being placed by regulators on patient safety.”

Concluding his presentation to the Conference the Minister said, “The patient safety agenda will be very much to the fore as we move towards implementation of the Sláintecare report. And the National Patient Safety Office team in setting its agenda for this two day meeting have identified areas of good practice and areas where we can improve all with the goal of making our health services safer for patients”.

The theme for this year’s conference is focused on ‘Team-working for Patient Safety’ and international speakers included Professor Michael West of the King’s Fund and Mr David Garbutt, Chair of the Scottish Ambulance Service, speaking on clinical governance. Mr Jim Gavin of the Irish Aviation Authority spoke giving a regulatory perspective on safety and team-working and Professor Niek Klazinga of the OECD outlined the financial burden that poor patient safety imposes on health service budgets. The importance of patients as partners to ensure patient safety was also highlighted at the conference, including the development of a Public Involvement Framework by DCU for the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee.



Opening Address by Minister Harris

The National Patient Safety Office Conference is being streamed live. Click on:
Further information available at:

What is the National Patient Safety Office?

The Minister for Health launched the National Patient Safety Office (NPSO) in December 2016. Located in the Department of Health, the NPSO was established to oversee a programme of patient safety measures and advise the HSE, HIQA and health professional regulatory bodies on patient safety issues. The NPSO has 3 streams – clinical effectiveness, patient safety surveillance and patient advocacy and policy. The programme of patient safety centres on initiatives such as new legislation, including provisions for open disclosure, hospital licensing, the extension of HIQA’s remit to the private sector and complaints, the establishment of a national patient advocacy service, the measurement of patient experience, extending the clinical effectiveness agenda and setting up a National Advisory Council for Patient Safety.

Some key areas of work include:

· Commitment to listening and learning from patients and the public through partnership with HIQA and the HSE on the National Patient Experience Survey, public consultation on patient safety complaints and advocacy policy and the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) is finalising its Public Involvement Framework.
· An outline of the work of the NCEC which includes the quality assurance of 15 National Clinical Guidelines in areas of patient safety such as early warning systems and sepsis; and 1 National Audit in the area of trauma.
· A new Patient Safety Surveillance function which will publish annually on a set of patient safety indicators in addition to the annual National Healthcare Quality Reporting System.
· Work on a Policy on Patient Safety Advocacy and Complaints to guide the establishment of a National Patient Advocacy Service external to both the the Department and the HSE. .
· The National Action on AMR 2017-2020 (iNAP).

What are the Standards for Review of Patient Safety Incidents?

The Department of Health commissioned, HIQA and the Mental Health Commission to jointly develop national standards for the management of patient safety incidents for acute hospitals. These new provisions, which will provide standards for conduct and type of reviews for patient safety incidents in addition to a set of standard definitions, are being launched at the National Patient Safety Conference. They will complement the National Standards for Safety Better Healthcare.

What is the National Action Plan on AMR 2017-2020 (iNAP)?
Ireland’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) 2017-2020 aims to implement policies and actions to prevent, monitor and combat AMR across the health, agricultural and environmental sectors. Reducing the inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines, as well as preventing infections and disease, is vital to stop the development and spread of resistant microorganisms.

It provides an overview for the health, agricultural and environmental sectors. It presents key strategic interventions for tackling antimicrobial resistance in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) requirements across the three sectors. These interventions represent Ireland’s commitment to the development and implementation of a holistic, cross-sectoral ‘One Health’ approach to the problem of antimicrobial resistance.