HSE terminates funding for patient group

Claims that removal of grants is attempt to stifle independent scrutiny of health service

“We may close but someone had to say to the HSE and the Department of Health that it isn’t acceptable that there is no independent watchdog examining the health system,” says Dr Hilary Dunne , chief executive of the Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Health. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

“We may close but someone had to say to the HSE and the Department of Health that it isn’t acceptable that there is no independent watchdog examining the health system,” says Dr Hilary Dunne , chief executive of the Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Health. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

The Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Health (ISQSH) has put staff on protective notice following the HSE’s decision to end €190,000 annual funding to the group.

The charity, which employed eight people until last year, currently has one full-time worker and three part-timers at an office in Clonee, Co Meath.

Chairman Aidan Raynor accused the HSE of attempting to eradicate any independent watchdog acting on behalf of patients in favour of self-monitoring of its activities.

Earlier this year the HSE terminated annual funding of €117,000 for the Irish Patients’ Association.

ISQSH chief executive Dr Hilary Dunne said the move was a “bad situation” for patients. “We may close but someone had to say to the HSE and the Department of Health that it isn’t acceptable that there is no independent watchdog examining the health system.”

She said the Savita Halappanavar case was only “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of bad patient experiences.

“We don’t appreciate how important the health system is until something goes wrong. It’s only the tragic cases, or ones where people sue, that come to light.”

The society’s main activity is conducting patients’ experience surveys in Irish hospitals, of which over 25,000 have been carried out since it was established in 2004. Dr Dunne said these showed that most patients did not know how to make a complaint and many felt they were not encouraged to do so.

The HSE said last night it had targeted savings in the health budget on areas that do not directly impact on patient services so that essential frontline services for the public could be protected.