Unanimous support for funding of independent advice & advocacy

Published: 28 Nov 2022

A summit of key stakeholders in healthcare in England today welcomed a new report on the need for independent advice and advocacy for people affected by avoidable harm in healthcare and called for it to be addressed. The was convened by the Harmed Patients Alliance who published the report “Signpost to Nowhere?”. The report sets out the fact that no funding is made available at all in England to ensure that patients or families affected by harm in NHS care can access independent advice and advocacy. Instead, the NHS and others ‘signpost’ to charities, including AvMA who have no public funding to provide this service and consequently very limited capacity to help more than a fraction of the people who need it. AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh assisted with the report and presented it to the meeting.

The report was welcomed by all those attending including representatives of the Patient Safety Commissioner; CQC; NHS England; Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch; NHS Resolution; and a number of patients and advocacy groups. Many described it as ‘extremely powerful’, and the case for funding independent advice and advocacy ‘obvious and compelling’. It was agreed that Harmed Patients Alliance would draft a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care to ask for urgent work to address the unmet need, and set up a working party to draw up proposals.

AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said:

“I hope this report and summit is a watershed and we now see action to address this unmet need.  The NHS owes a moral duty to ensure that the patients and families affected by avoidable harm in the NHS get the support they need. It is a scandal that injured patients and their families are left to fend for themselves or to ask charities with little or no resources for help.”