A new voice for Patient Advocacy in MRHT

Amy Mathews commenced in her role as the Patient Advocacy and Liaison Services Co-ordinator in Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore in June 2022. This is a newly established role within the hospital and acts as the main contact between patients, their families, carers and the hospital.

This role ensures that the patient voice is heard either through the patient directly or through a nominated representative and promote a culture of encouraging patients to share their experience and suggestions and act as a catalyst for service improvement. Amy sits on several hospital committees to ensure that the patient voice is incorporated into any discussions, decisions or improvement strategies.

MRHT 	Amy Matthews Patient Advocacy Liaison Officer MRHT websize 2
Amy Matthews Patient Advocacy Liaison Officer MRHT

With a background in Radiation Therapy and having worked in both private and public hospitals in Ireland and New Zealand, Amy has gained valuable experience working with patients and their families and collaborating with patients to implement service improvements.

Her role is responsible for promoting a patient-centred ethos in the hospital. It aims to highlight the importance of making patients empowered to share their experiences and become involved in their own healthcare. She will provide assistance for patients with communicating their feedback, delivering information on their care in a language they can understand, address any concerns or issues with the care provided and offer support with the formal complaint process.

Amy describes her days as “being varied and that no two are ever the same. At times my role is a reactive one. I receive calls and emails from patients, families and staff to provide support to patients when necessary. When someone is ill and is in a hospital, they can feel very vulnerable. It is a very worrying and stressful experience for that person and their loved ones. They may be confused and unsure of what is happening. Support might be needed to help them understand their medical condition or treatment options and plans. Additionally, support may be needed if they are unhappy with the care they are receiving. In these cases, it may be necessary for me to link in with the relevant staff, voice the patients concerns on their behalf and facilitate family meetings. It is important that concerns and queries are recognised and responded to. The HSE has an open disclosure policy which means that we must communicate with patients in an open, honest, timely and transparent manner. It is vital that patients receive compassion and good communication while in the hospital setting. People never forget about how we make them feel. How people feel about their interactions in a hospital can be a lasting memory. It is important that we try and create positive patient experiences.’

This new appointment will also work towards actively improving patients experience in the hospital. Amy states “I work along with my colleagues to identify gaps in the service we provide and help fill these gaps with the aim to improve the patient experience in Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore. It is my priority to ensure that any service improvement is patient-centred. Patient feedback forms and post boxes are located outside each ward and in other locations throughout the hospital. I encourage patients to fill these out so we can find out what patients believe we need to improve on. Sometimes it is the small changes that make a big difference to improving a patient’s experience.”

Catriona Mc Donald, General Manager, Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore stated: “The primary purpose of the PALS office is to serve as a key point of contact between patients, their families and their carers with our Hospital. It is one of the new key initiatives we are actively rolling out to improve patients experiences. We look forward to seeing the positive impact that the addition of this new role will bring for patients with the provision of confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters going forward.”

It is important to note that if a patient at Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore has a health problem or concern they should talk to their doctor, nurse or a member of staff in the clinic, ward or department first. They are the best people to explain their medical condition, treatment or clinical procedure. However, if a patient does not feel comfortable voicing their concerns to the staff looking after them or their concerns cannot be resolved at local level, then they should contact the Patient Advocacy and Liaison Services Co-Ordinator.

Phone: 057 935 8117