New Ontario health care watchdog to investigate patient complaints

Posted on July 7, 2015 in Health Delivery System – News/GTA – The new patient ombudsman position was announced by Ontario minister of health and long-term care Eric Hoskins on Tuesday
Jul 07 2015.   By: Tara Deschamps, Staff Reporter

The province is soliciting suggestions for a new watchdog to handle patient complaints about hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The new patient ombudsman position was announced by provincial minister of health and long-term care Dr. Eric Hoskins on Tuesday at Toronto General Hospital.

The point of it, Hoskins said, is to “give a voice to patients who feel the system could have done better.”

Though Hoskins said he hoped someone would be appointed to the position by the end of the year, he said the province would be asking the public to provide characteristics of an ideal candidate by the end of August.

The role’s creation comes after the Quality of Care Information Protection Act review committee released recommendations in December 2014 calling for a mechanism to be established to investigate critical health care incidents.

But the position, under the power of Health Quality Ontario, is not without criticism from some who say such a role should be given absolute independence, as Ontario ombudsman André Marin is.

“The largest expenditure that we have is health care and I think the public deserves and wants transparency…so it is better to have (the patient ombudsman) reporting directly to the legislature,” said NDP House leader Gilles Bisson previously.

Last July, when the idea for the position was floated, former health minister Deb Matthews claimed, “It is not about shielding ourselves from criticism, quite the opposite. It fits very well into the mandate of Health Quality Ontario.

For years, Marin pushed for the authority to investigate the MUSH sector— municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals that fall outside his jurisdiction. Those areas have yet to come under his authority.

Though many hospitals already have patient relations departments, Hoskins said, as of Sept. 1, 2015, all hospitals must have staff responsible for patient relations.

With files from Richard J. Brennan

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