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In an email to HIQA CEO Mr Phelim Quinn, sent in October and obtained by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request to the Authority, Confidential Recipient Ms Leigh Gath wrote that the HSE notifies her when a concern is “taken care of”. However, when she relays concerns on private nursing homes to HIQA, she does not “hear anything back so the loop is never really closed”.
Ms Gath noted that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was in place and suggested a mechanism could be developed to “close the circle once HIQA investigates”.
In November, Ms Gath contacted another HIQA official stating that she and Mr Quinn had “talked about how HIQA can communicate things a little better to my office so that I can give closure to the person or their family on a complaint that was sent to yourselves, ie, private nursing homes”.
A HIQA spokesperson said it does not have a remit under the Health Act 2007 to address individual complaints in relation to services provided.
“We do receive concerns about services from various sources, including service users, their families, staff and the Confidential Recipient. This information is then used to inform our monitoring activity of registered centres. As we cannot investigate these concerns, we cannot report back to the person raising the concern as to any outcomes.”
An MoU was signed between HIQA and the Confidential Recipient in 2016.
It outlines that where the Confidential Recipient is in receipt of a concern about the quality and safety of services provided in a designated centre, this will be communicated to the HIQA Information Handling Centre by phone or email. This information will be forwarded to the designated contact in HIQA to inform its monitoring activity.
The MoU sets out that the Chief Inspector and nominated officers of HIQA will meet with the Confidential Recipient on a quarterly basis to provide updates.
HIQA’s spokesperson added that it can take emergency steps where it is aware of an urgent risk to residents.
The Authority received 10 concerns from the Confidential Recipient in 2016.