Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

We are publishing our first ever thematic report today. Our focus is on medical consent, a recurring theme in the complaints people bring us, and a particularly topical subject in light of significant and ongoing changes in the law and policy underpinning consent. 

The report details the sometimes devastating impact for individual patients when consent is not properly obtained. The aim of the report, however, is not only to highlight the issues we see, but to explore the context and reasons for this, and to encourage others to use the learning from complaints to support improvements in services. The report sets out the common themes in our investigations in this area, with case studies to illustrate these.  It includes a practical tool (the consent checklist) for health organisations, scrutiny bodies and policy-makers to use in evaluating whether a consent process is robust enough to avoid the common failings we see.

Jim Martin, the Ombudsman, said:

‘We consider it timely to contribute our unique perspective to this discussion.  The complaints we see provide a useful insight into the kinds of failings that can occur in consent processes, and the impact this has on ordinary people.

We believe that as well as putting things right for individual patients and their families, complaints can and should drive service improvements. This report forms part of the vital work we do to help public bodies learn and improve, prevent repeat failings and reduce future complaints.’

Updated: March 2, 2017