Patient Reference Group minutes: October 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 29 October 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Donna O’Boyle (Chair)
  • Lynne Nicol
  • Margaret Syme
  • Nicki Crossan
  • Pauline Bennet
  • Lea Mann
  • Susan Cole
  • Anne Monie
  • Charlie Bethune
  • Claire Daisley
  • Emma MacKay
  • Marie Lyon
  • Nan McGradie
  • Rona Johnson
  • Sharon Mercado
  • Vicki Middleton
  • Wilma Ord
  • Emma Murphy
  • Lisa Megginson
  • Apologies:
  • June Greenhorn
  • Susan Doyle
  • Janet Williams
  • Anncris Roberts


  • Jan Clark
  • Karen Neil
  • Nancy Honeyball

Items and actions


  • welcome, introductions and apologies
  • terms of reference - paper 1
  • understanding the Current Patient Safety Landscape
  • discussion on the Role of the Patient Safety Commissioner - paper 2
  • any other business

Welcome, introductions and apologies

Donna welcomed everyone to the first Patient Reference Group meeting, and thanked members for volunteering to represent their wider patient groups and networks. Apologies were noted.

Following introductions, Donna provided background to the purpose of the meeting; explaining that input from this group is important to help us develop a Patient Safety Commissioner (PSC) role for Scotland, as set out in recommendation 2 of the First Do No Harm Report. She noted that the expectation is that members will represent their wider networks - feeding into this group, and feeding back to their networks, to help shape and inform what a public consultation may look like.

To determine how the PSC will work with the Scottish context and within existing structures, a Specialist Group will be established to run alongside this group. The Specialist group membership will be made up of organisations working in this area. Donna asked for a volunteer from this group, with two deputies (ideally, one from each of the three patient groups represented) to join the Specialist Group.

Scottish Government officials are in regular contact with their counterparts in the other three UK administrations, and will take cognisiance of the different approaches being taken to developing a PSC for each country.

All members gave consent to sharing their email addresses within the group, and all were content for papers from these meetings to be published on the Scottish Government website (no contact details will be published, only member names).


  • group to put forward a representative and two deputies to join the Specialist Group

Terms of reference (paper 1)

Terms of reference were shared prior to the meeting, and accepted by the group. These would be amended to show that the group agreed that further meetings would take place as and when these were felt to be required.


  • Secretariat to amend the terms of reference

Understanding the Current Patient Safety Landscape 

From the completed survey about knowledge of the current landscape, it was evident that a number of the exisiting policies and organisations were largely unknown to patient groups.  

Nicki talked through a presentation highlighting the current patient safety landscape, and reitierated that the PSC role will add value to these, and not replicate what they already do.

A discussion followed and the group felt that there was too many agencies/organisations involved in handling patient feedback, concerns and complaints - all overlapping and confusing for patients using health services. Looking across and mapping the existing landscape will be the main aim and purpose of the Specialist Group. 

Other points made about the PSC role include: 

  • interaction with Regulatory Bodies is essential
  • must be accessible to patients and they must be able to access these quickly (patients don’t have time, medically, to be passed from pillar to post, and left wondering what next) 

The group suggested that the first port of call for making a complaint should be their GP/GP Practice, but felt that staff were not always keen to take these forward for fear of retribution.

Discussion on the Role of the Patient Safety Commissioner (paper 2)

The group split into three breakout sessions, with each group discussing a different question, followed by general discussion about the PSC role.

  • should the PSC help and support individuals on a case-by-case basis, or should their role be to challenge the system more widely? If you feel that the PSC should challenge the system more widely, how can we ensure that they are truly speaking on behalf of patients? How would patients feed their views and experiences into the PSC?
  • thinking of a time when you would have found it particularly helpful to have the support of a PSC, what would you expect them to have done for you?
  • how should the PSC relate to Health Boards and Government? Who else do they need to relate to?

Themes emerging from these discussions included:

  • the existing landscape needs to be more co-ordinated and joined up
  • better communication between everyone involved is needed, including communicaton across the UK where appropriate – communication between different parts of the healthcare system and particularly with patients
  • patients need to be listened to, and treated with respect, dignity and honesty
  • the PSC should have influence within the system, and have the means to be able to identify trends in healthcare harms before they become bigger issues for more patients
  • the PSC must have sufficient powers to hold healthcare providers to account, to take swift remedial action where required, and to make recommendations with scope to follow up. The role should be in legislation
  • the PSC must be independent from Government
  • whilst the PSC does not necessarily need to be a clinician, they must be knowledgable about the issues they are dealing with. This is likely to require them to have a team to support them;
  • the PSC needs to be able to look into historic cases – not just current issues
  • it is felt that there is a culture of clinicians ‘banding together’. The PSC needs to be in a position to challenge this culture

Any other business

The Minister for Mental Health, Claire Haughey MSP, joined the meeting to thank members for their time, and for volunteering to participate in this group. She reiterated the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government commitment to establishing the PSC role, and the importance of lived experience to shape the role.

Next steps and next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting would take place prior to Christmas.


  • Secretariat to arrange next meeting

Action summary

  • group to put forward a representative and two deputies to join the Specialist Group - all    
  • amend the ToR to include arrangements for future meetings - Secretariat
  • arrange the next meeting of the group to take place prior to Christmas - Secretariat    
Member survey
Paper 2: discussion paper
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