Wednesday 18 September 2019

HSE to roll out new open disclosure policy to fix 'deeply flawed' system

Dr Gabriel Scally. Picture: Frank McGrath
Dr Gabriel Scally. Picture: Frank McGrath
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

An improved system for informing patients when something goes wrong in their care will be finalised before the end of next month and rolled out throughout the year, the HSE has said.

The HSE was responding after Dr Gabriel Scally, who called for urgent changes in the open disclosure process in his CervicalCheck investigation report in September, said the "deeply flawed" policy was still in place.

He made his comments in a new progress report examining the moves made in following up on the 50 recommendations he made last year, most of which are "on track".

A clear policy is needed to ensure hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers are left in no doubt of the obligation to be honest and up front with patients if mistakes or near misses are made.

Although audits - showing women who developed cervical cancer received wrong smear tests - were carried out by CervicalCheck, they were not passed on to the majority of patients.

Responding to Dr Scally's progress report, the HSE says it has recently carried out a revision of its open disclosure policy in response to Dr Scally's recommendations.

"This revision included an extensive consultation including input from patients and people directly affected by failures in disclosure during the CervicalCheck audit," said a spokeswoman.

"The revised policy was recently approved by the HSE directorate and is expected to be published and communicated to all HSE staff before the end of April.

"Implementation will then follow through our health service throughout 2019.

"The HSE remains committed to ensuring the operation of open disclosure throughout the organisation by continuing to roll out its national training programme and the establishment of a national open disclosure office.

"The open disclosure office has responsibility for the development and implementation of guidelines, evaluation and audit of policy implementation, training and education and the provision of guidance support and advice to staff."

Health Minister Simon Harris said yesterday he was pleased with the progress being made and will be bringing forward the Patient Safety Bill making open disclosure mandatory in the coming weeks. So far, 30,000 staff have been trained in how to approach open disclosure.

Irish Independent

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