HSE launches strategy to give a greater voice to service users in the health service

6 May 2008


The Minister for Health & Children, Ms Mary Harney, TD, and the CEO of the HSE Professor Brendan Drumm have today, (Tuesday May 6th), launched the National Strategy for Service User Involvement in the Irish Health Service.

Consisting of seven goals, the Strategy will build on current good practice in involving service users (i.e. Patients, their families, voluntary and community organisations) across the country.

Service User Involvement in the Health Service

The goals identified by the Strategy are:

  • Develop a Patients Charter and service quality guarantees that patients can expect when they use the health services
  • Patients will be enabled to become more involved in their own health care and decisions and choices affecting their health
  • Children, young people and the socially excluded groups will be specifically listened to identify their needs in accessing health services
  • A systematic approach that evaluates current mechanisms for involving users will be adopted and the best approaches will be implemented in al parts of the country
  • Commitment and Leadership to this strategy will evident from involvement of user groups in all health care planning and the success of this will be evaluated each year
  • Primary care team development will be achieved in dialogue with the local community, community care services will listen to users and their families and hospitals will develop consumer panels to ensure that patients' views inform the running of our hospital system
  • Training and support to ensure the successful implementation of the strategy will be provided to HSE staff

Produced by the Department of Health & Children and the HSE in consultation with the Health Services National Partnership Forum, HIQA, advocacy groups and service users, the principles of the strategy apply to all who use health and social services, those who participate in health programmes and services and those who work in the health service.

Launching the Strategy today, the Minister said: "the role of the service user has been central to government health policy and while much good work has been done to build the voice of the service user into decisions in health care, we need to ensure that best practice in this area is disseminated to all parts of the health service.

"With the successful implementation of this strategy, for example, primary care teams will be sitting down with their patients developing models of service provision that meet their needs. Older people and their families will be engaged in discussions about the quality of their community care provision."

Speaking at today's launch, HSE CEO Prof Brendan Drumm stressed that "effective health services have a commitment to the constructive engagement of patients and the public at their centre. Involving the public therefore can lead to greater understanding of local health issues and health needs.

"Members of the public can bring great clarity, practicality and transparency to the development of truly patient centred services. They can act as a valuable reference point to ensure that the decisions and actions of clinicians and managers always put the needs of the people who use our services first.

"This strategy document represents a significant step forward in actively involving the public in this programme of change. Working in partnership with other statutory and voluntary organisations and staff representative bodies, the HSE is taking a lead role in overseeing the implementation of this strategy."

Children and young people will be engaged in the planning, design, development, delivery and evaluation of services. Socially excluded groups will be clearly targeted to ensure their involvement and this will be subsequently evaluated.

It is well established internationally that service user involvement promotes health and personal social services that are safer, more accessible and of a higher quality. This Strategy aims to ultimately increase patient satisfaction with the care they receive.

The HSE now plans to implement this Strategy nationally and will evaluate its success on an annual basis.

The strategy will be implemented led by a group in the HSE after its launch today.

The Patients Charter will be developed based on models from other countries and will provide guarantees of service quality that patients can expect when using our health services. Patient involvement in their own care will mean that the HSE will develop clear strategic plans to promote and encourage service users, particularly those with chronic illnesses, to be active participants in their own care. The HSE will promote this patient involvement, building models of care with the "expert patient" significantly consulted and involved in developing their own care plan.

Managers and clinicians will demonstrate commitment and leadership by involving service users in policy and legislation development and by ensuring that service user involvement is part of their planning process, staff appraisals and by ensuring an annual report on the implementation of this strategy is presented to the HSE Management Team.

The HSE will evaluate existing mechanisms for service user involvement to ensure best practice is implemented throughout the country and this will lead to increased involvement in primary care teams, increased mechanisms for users of community services for older people to comment on their care. It will also lead to the review of consumer panels (in existence in many parts of the country), building on good practice and the development of a system of advocacy to support patients and clients.

This Strategy will now build upon work already developed including:


Last updated on: 06 / 05 / 2008