Patients to have their say thanks to advice service

An independent advice service has been set up to offer advice and support to NHS patients across Scotland.

As part of the Patients Rights Act, the Patient and Advice Support Service (PASS) will raise awareness of patients rights and provide support to patients on how to give feedback about their healthcare.

The advice service is among a series of initiatives from the Act which came into force on Monday, April 2.

Patients will also now have a legal right to complain, give feedback or comments, or raise concerns about the care they have received from the NHS.

PASS will be delivered through local Citizen’s Advice Bureaux offices and in some health board areas through Patient Information Centres.

A set of healthcare principles for NHS staff and guidance on giving feedback on health services have now been implemented and patients are also being given the opportunity to give their views on the draft Patient Rights Charter.

The Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities will bring together, in one place, a summary of the rights and responsibilities that patients have when using NHS services.

Commenting on the Act, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Patients Rights Act marks an important step forward in giving patients more say in their health service.

“These measures will help reassure people that if they have concerns about either care or services, they will receive the help and support they need, and that they have the legal right to complain.

“We know that while our health service does a fantastic job, it is not perfect and that is why we need our patients to give us their feedback so that health boards can continually improve the care they provide.

“In particular, the Patient and Advice Support Service (PASS) will provide information and help patients and members of the public to know and understand their rights and responsibilities when using health services.”

The Patients Rights Act will also introduce a 12 week treatment guarantee from autumn 2012 for eligible patients who are receiving planned inpatient or day-case treatment.

This could include hip or knee replacements, hernias, or cataracts, although there are a small number of exceptions to this guarantee due to the specialist nature of the treatment.