Varadkar attends launch of new fraternity for safer healthcare everywhere

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The Irish Patients Association has launched the first In Country Pact for Patient Safety at the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, with the participation of the Minister for Health, the Ombudsman, and Experts in infection control, key stakeholders and founding signatories to the pact.

Supported by more than 23 patient associations throughout Europe, and representing hundreds of thousands of patients, the Pact for Patient Safety establishes 10 key commitments for health authorities such as involving patients in patient safety programmes, publicising data on parameters of patient safety, providing full access to patient records, incentivising safety with healthcare managers and raising awareness at national level on indicators of patient safety.

Organisations, institutions, Patients and citizens everywhere now have the opportunity to individually sign the Pact and demand greater safety of care through its dedicated website.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said: “We must always look at things from the patient’s perspective. The Pact for Patient Safety makes useful very suggestions to support patients, and I thank the Irish Patients Association for its work in this area. We will consider its recommendations closely in our efforts to reinforce safety standards across the health service. We will never have a perfect health service. But we can strive to develop a service which minimises the risk of harm and medical error, which maximises the capacity to identify harm when it does occur, and which ensures that lessons are learned when errors do happen.

Stephen McMahon, Director of the Irish Patients Association, and leader of the initiative, announced, “Looking at various estimates there are as many as 1 in 10 patients are currently harmed while receiving care, A recent eurobarometer report said that in Ireland 1 in 4 said they or family member experienced an adverse event when receiving healthcare, of these 52% said they did not report it.

It is time that patients’ demand for safer care is heard and they can do that, by signing the Pact for Patient Safety. For some it may be the only expression for similar events not to happen to other patients. “

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The Pact creates an opportunity for greater accountability, access, and patient safety in healthcare systems.”

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said “It is important that health service providers listen to their patients. In particular, they should ensure that they learn from complaints they receive from the very people who use their services. Many complaints my Office sees about health care could have been avoided if the provider had properly responded to complaints they already received.”

The Pact for Patient Safety marks the beginning of a new movement by patients, and for patients, to facilitate commitment from health authorities and policymakers, healthcare professionals and healthcare providers, towards better protecting patients from unnecessary harm. It exists to support Patient Safety Champions everywhere in the health care systems.