Patients Need An Advocate

TheStar.com - comment
Aug 04, 2007 04:30 AM

Hospital Review Paves The Way

for ombudsman

Aug. 2

We believe that patients across the health-care sector would benefit not only from the Ontario ombudsman's oversight but also from access to independent advocacy services. The ombudsman cannot be a partisan advocate for the individual, unlike an independent patient advocate. Both have a place in our current health-care system.

For many years, the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office and the Ontario ombudsman worked together to address patient concerns and complaints at the 10 former provincial psychiatric hospitals. Our office provided independent advocacy, while the ombudsman was available as the office of last resort to address unresolved issues. Sadly, since the divestment of nine psychiatric hospitals from government control, that relationship only continues to exist at the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene.

At times, the support and additional voice provided by an independent advocate can be the lever needed to shift an immovable force. Advocates would work with patients at every step of the way to ensure that quality-of-care and quality-of-life issues are addressed and patients received timely access to services and supports. Our service-delivery model could be adapted to the broader health-care sector.

As the health landscape is shifting and the role of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is changing, it is time to consider what advocacy and rights-protection services are needed by patients across the health-care system.

David Simpson, Acting Director,

Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office,

Taken from http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/243009

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