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Minutes of a meeting of the HSE Directorate in June referred to a revised process for examining concerns raised with the Confidential Recipient. Ms Leigh Gath was appointed to the newly-created role in December 2014 following RTÉ’s revelation of abuses at the HSE-run Áras Attracta residential home in Co Mayo.
A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that earlier this year, with the “agreement and involvement” of the Confidential Recipient, it was decided to “jointly review the process to take account of learning since commencement of the process”.
“The role and authority of the Confidential Recipient have not been altered. A number of agreed changes have been made with a view to streamlining the process for Confidential Recipient referral and to provide for a more timely response to the Confidential Recipient. With the Confidential Recipient we will keep the operation of the process under constant review and continue to strengthen it based on learning over time.”
According to the HSE, the new process provides a standardised referral form for the Confidential Recipient to use and “is clearer as to whom this referral should be sent”.
“The new process provides for the Confidential Recipient to advise the person who raised the concern as to whom the referral has been sent and the expected timeline for response.”
The HSE referred to inclusion of additional detail “designed to provide clarity and streamline the referral process”.
In this regard, the primary role of the Confidential Recipient is stated as to receive concerns in relation to “residential services for people with disabilities and people residing in mental health or older persons units”.
The type of concerns that fall within the remit of the Confidential Recipient are identified as including alleged abuse, neglect or mistreatment and poor care practices or arrangements, added the spokesperson.
The Confidential Recipient received 119 concerns in her first year in office.
In April 2015, MI reported that Ms Gath had indicated that her HSE email address was causing some to question her independence. She now has a non-HSE email address.