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Patients' Rights Conference 2023

Mr Stephen McMahon Opening Address

Stephen McMahon began by extending a warm welcome to the audience and dignitaries, expressing gratitude to the RCSI for its hospitality. He emphasized the urgent need for a healthcare reform that prioritizes patient safety and recounted the tragic consequences of preventable deaths and injuries, which serve as a compelling motivation for change.

Central to McMahon's message was the concept of patient-centered care. He stressed the importance of actively involving patients in their healthcare decisions, respecting their values, and ensuring that their voices are heard throughout their healthcare journey. Quoting Sir William Osler, he highlighted that great physicians treat not only the disease but also the patient who has the disease.

McMahon underscored the vital role of promoting a culture of patient safety in healthcare. He acknowledged the challenges in creating such a culture but drew parallels with industries like aviation that have successfully embraced a zero-event culture, suggesting that healthcare should follow suit.

Accountability, transparency, and robust reporting mechanisms were emphasized as crucial components of addressing issues compromising patient safety. Whistle-blower protection was stressed, and McMahon expressed a duty to safeguard these individuals who play a pivotal role in ensuring patient well-being. He highlighted the importance of creating a culture of psychological safety within healthcare.

Fundamental patient rights, such as timely and appropriate access to healthcare, informed consent, privacy, and dignity, were reiterated as non-negotiable principles.

The goal of healthcare reform was underscored as the provision of safer, more effective, equitable and compassionate care. Patients Focus is key.

The importance of upholding patients' rights, supported by international treaties, was emphasized, with a particular focus on the inherent right to safety. In conclusion, McMahon called for patients to remain at the core of healthcare, urging the development of a culture of safety, accountability, transparency, and whistle-blower protection based on fundamental rights. Collaboration with like-minded allies was encouraged to achieve the common goal of delivering better, more compassionate healthcare for all. The speech concluded with expressions of gratitude to the attentive audience. To draw on the words of the President John F. Kennedy, "The rights of every man, woman and child are diminished when the rights of one man, woman or child are threatened."

Additionally, McMahon introduced key speakers and panel discussions, such as Mr. Ger Deering sharing a report on healthcare barriers, Capt. Niall Downey discussing the transfer of safety practices from aviation to healthcare, and panels featuring patient and industry experts focusing on patient safety and innovation, particularly in the realm of Artificial Intelligence. He also highlighted the presence of colleagues from the Ukraine Patients organisation, extending a warm welcome to them as they joined the conference, saying “askavo prosimo do nashikh beregiv” - “Welcome to our shores”.

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