Press Release

Statement by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar – Patient Safety and Open Disclosure

Last November, I published a Patient Safety Package at my second address to the Annual Patient Safety Conference. It had already been approved by Government and was broadly welcomed at the time by patient advocacy groups. There has been no change of policy since then of any sort whatsoever. I did several interviews at the time and explained it all in some detail.

The package includes a number of measures such as:

  • A legal requirement that Serious Reportable Events (the most serious forms of error that cause harm to patients) must be recorded and reported. This is contained in the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill, the outline of which was published in November and is in line with previous commitments.
  • Open Disclosure, which has been policy since 2013, will be enshrined in legislation being drafted in cooperation with the Department of Justice. Open Disclosure extends beyond healthcare and includes errors that cause no harm at all, or even possible errors that turn out not to have happened. The legislation will ensure that all open disclosures will be protected and that offering an apology or giving full information up front cannot be seen as an admission of liability. This is designed to guarantee a culture of openness in healthcare and was recommended by the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance chaired by Dr Deirdre Madden of UCC.
  • Annual Patient Experience Surveys giving us objective and standardised information about patients’ experience of a particular service.
  • The Medical Practitioners Bill which requires that doctors be fully and properly insured. This has now passed the Seanad and will be in the Dáil later this session.
  • Extension of the powers of HIQA to the regulation of private hospitals.
  • The establishment of a Patient Safety Office within my Department to collect information and intelligence and analyse it for patterns, red flags and warning signs, run campaigns and implement the package in general.
  • The creation of a National Patient Council to strengthen patient input into patient safety policy and its implementation.

Further details on the package are available here