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In an interview in the spring edition of HSE staff magazine, Health Matters, the Confidential Recipient Ms Leigh Gath said that “some people have said to me that I have a HSE email address, but I can assure them that I am completely independent of the HSE”.
The piece also details that Ms Gath, who took up her post in December, has received “lots of calls and dealt with six cases”.
Ms Gath said the appointment was a “very brave move” by HSE Director General Mr Tony O’Brien, and “shows that the HSE is not afraid to hold its hands up and say ‘something has gone wrong but we are determined to fix it’.”
The appointment of a Confidential Recipient was announced by Mr O’Brien in the wake of the Áras Attracta scandal.
Mr O’Brien told the Joint Committee on Health and Children that Ms Gath would have access to legal counsel, office facilities and staff with no prior engagement with the health service.
“Ms Gath will be in a position to decide herself what she will do with each complaint,” Mr O’Brien outlined.
“The majority, I expect, will be referred for action by the Social Care Division and then she will be in a position to monitor the action that occurs.”
Complaints could also be referred to bodies such as HIQA, the Garda Síochána and the Ombudsman.
A HIQA spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that it welcomes “any development” that promotes the welfare of vulnerable residents and people using services.
He confirmed that the Confidential Recipient has formally conveyed “information of concern to HIQA, and that information was evaluated and responded to by the Authority”. HIQA had also has a formal meeting with the Confidential Recipient to discuss respective roles.
The spokesperson added: “The Confidential Recipient has an office within the HSE, a provider and funder of services to children and adults in receipt of regulated services. As the Confidential Recipient’s office becomes more established, it is anticipated that a communications protocol will be developed between her office and HIQA. In the meantime, we have established interim communications arrangements.”