Minister launches new independent Patient Advocacy Service

A new Patient Advocacy Service, aimed at supporting patients who wish to make a complaint about care received in a public hospital, has been launched by Health Minister, Simon Harris.

The Department of Health said the new service offered a confidential helpline with experienced advocates on-hand to provide information and support to patients who wanted to make a formal complaint to the HSE about the care they experienced in a public hospital.

“The Patient Advocacy Service, funded by the Department of Health and independent of the HSE, is a free and confidential service. The tender to provide the service was awarded in 2018 to the National Advocacy Service, which has many years’ experience of delivering advocacy in the public sector.”

The support will initially operate nationally out of a Patient Advocacy Hub in Dublin.

Louise Loughlin, National Manager of the Patient Advocacy Service, said: “We are delighted to be able to deliver a new independent patient advocacy service to support patients through the HSE complaints process.

“Our patient advocates will support people to understand and navigate the HSE complaints system.

“The National Advocacy Service has been providing advocacy services since 2011, and we are confident that this new service will be welcomed by the public and the wider health sector.

“We look forward to delivering this crucial new Patient Advocacy Service in the coming months”.

Establishing a patient advocacy service was a Department of Health action in response to the recommendations in the 2015 HIQA report into Portlaoise Hospital, the Ombudsman’s report “Learning to get Better” (2015). It was a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to establish the service.

The Patient Advocacy Service confidential helpline, available 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, is 0818 293 003. To learn more, or submit an online query, visit www.patientadvocacyservice.ie