The HSE should consider appointing a confidential recipient for vulnerable persons in each of the six planned regional health areas, according to Confidential Recipient Ms Leigh Gath.
The Confidential Recipient is “an independent person appointed by the HSE” to receive concerns and complaints about HSE and HSE-funded services that are accessed by older people and people with a disability.
Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Ms Gath said it is “an ideal time” for the HSE to examine expanding the office. She said the service was “well established” and “respected” in the HSE.
As of 2021, the office had managed over 1,200 formal concerns/complaints and hundreds of informal queries since its inception in late 2014. However, the HSE informed MI it was not planning to make “any additional confidential recipient appointments”. The Executive is currently in the process of recruiting a new Confidential Recipient, with Ms Gath due to step down from the role in September.
Meanwhile, Ms Gath expressed dissatisfaction with the operation of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with HIQA. Under the agreement, the Confidential Recipient reports concerns/complaints received about private nursing homes to the Authority.
Ms Gath said HIQA does not provide her with information on the actions taken when she has relayed these reports. This was unsatisfactory as she has been unable to follow-up with families and individuals who have raised the issues.
According to HIQA, it has received one piece of information from the Confidential Recipient over the last 18 months. This information was “passed to the relevant inspector” and the Confidential Recipient was informed of this. “We have an MoU with the Confidential Recipient and we will be arranging a meeting for her with our new CEO and Chief Inspector,” stated HIQA’s spokesperson.
Ms Gath said when families or individuals contact her about private nursing homes, she now advises them to outline the concern/complaint in a registered letter to the private nursing home and copy this correspondence to HIQA. If they do not receive a prompt or adequate response, she advises them to contact the ombudsman’s office where the concern/ complaint meets its remit.