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Department of Health is the ‘most likely’ funder of planned patient advocacy service

Speaking following a session on patient-centred care at the ICGP National Conference and AGM, Minister Lynch said she was currently “not certain where exactly it would sit” but not within the HSE.

Asked whether the Department of Health will be the funder, Minister Lynch said it was usually the Department that funded initiatives of this nature. “That has to be decided yet, but they can’t fund themselves,” she said.

Last week, in response to HIQA’s report into services at Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said a “patient advocacy service” would be established, which would be “fully independent of the HSE”.

Previous Minister Dr James Reilly had championed the idea of a Patient Safety Agency.

In April 2014, Dr Reilly told the Dáil that it had been decided to “expedite the Patient Safety Agency through the HSE on an administrative basis, although ultimately, it will be supported by legislation and be independent”. Dr Reilly had added: “What people want when something goes wrong is an acknowledgement that something went wrong, an apology for it going wrong and an assurance that it will not happen again because things will change. I envisage that the Patient Safety Agency will be such a body.”

The Department of Health website, in a paragraph that pre-dates last week’s HIQA report release, states: “The establishment of a Patient Safety Agency is under review in the context of the strategic reform of the health services and the measures that are being taken to strengthen patient safety, including advocacy and related services, within the HSE.”

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