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Patients' Rights Conference 2023

Mr Stephen Donnelly, TD Minister for Health

The Minister opened his address by saying he was committed to the IPA and the important work they do and thanked us for our invitation.

The Minister highlighted important patient rights; The Patient Safety Act (2023) and the National Open Disclosure Framework provide support and a safe space to fully promote a culture of openness and transparency. When healthcare providers realise that something has gone wrong, there is an onus on them to immediately raise a flag. In parallel, they must feel safe and supported in doing so. The Minister went on to say that it is a patient’s fundamental right to have full information about the healthcare they are receiving, even more so if something goes wrong. The Department of Health is currently working with stakeholders to implement the provisions of the Act. This Act, which is a landmark piece of patient safety legislation, will ultimately lead to better clinical and health outcomes for patients.

Minister Donnelly said that it will also lead to better experiences for patients and help promote a culture of transparency and openness. This is essential if we want to create a “just culture” in our health services. The Act deals with a number of important patient safety priorities, including mandatory open disclosure of serious notifiable patient safety incidents, external notification to the regulator, and for the first time, the extension of HIQA's remit to the private healthcare system. The National Open Disclosure Framework which is going to be launched shortly promotes a clear and consistent approach to open disclosure across the whole health service following a patient safety incident or an adverse event. This new framework is an important step in creating a just culture in our health and social care services.

The Minister for Health closed his speech in saying that it is important that we all come together and support the successful implementation of these two important initiatives to ensure the provision of the best possible care for patients along with a culture of openness, transparency, and respect for patients and their families.

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