A Patient Safety Strategy for Northern Ireland

Ombudsman Margaret Kelly has called for patients to be given a central role in shaping safety protocols within Northern Ireland's health service.

Speaking yesterday (20 March) at a conference on patient safety, Ms Kelly asked the Department of Health to take the lead in creating a comprehensive framework that empowers patients and fosters a culture of safety and accountability.

With a keynote address from Sir Robert Francis KC (Chair of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust inquiries, 2010 and 2013), the conference brought together a range of voices and expertise to explore potential strategies and approaches to improving patient safety and public trust in our health and social care system.

Ms Kelly stated:

‘Complaints, patient feedback, and raising concerns have proven to be a reliable indicator of safety issues.  Patients must be central to any solutions to improve patient safety. Our investigation work highlights a culture that is sometimes defensive rather than open with patients, and which does not always use complaints as an opportunity to learn and prevent future harm. We hope this conference will mark a step towards ensuring that patient perspectives are not only heard but actively incorporated into the fabric of healthcare policies and practices.

A Patient Safety Strategy setting out how our health system is prioritising safety and involving patients in the process would provide reassurance and help build public trust in a health system that is committed to being patient centred.’

A report from the conference will be published in the near future.

Margaret Kelly, Robin Swann, Robert Francis, Sean Martin
From l-r, Margaret Kelly (Ombudsman), Robin Swann (Minister for Health),
Sir Robert Francis KC, Sean Martin (Deputy Ombudsman)

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