Patient Safety Commissioner: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to our consultation on creating a Patient Safety Commissioner role for Scotland, which ran from 5 March to 28 May 2021. The consultation sought the views of the public and other interested parties of what the role should be.

Annex C

Below describes some of the policies, processes, organisations and areas of legislation that aim to support patients' voices in the healthcare system in Scotland.

The Patient Safety Commissioner role will need to add benefit for patients, rather than duplicating what already exists.

Name or title

Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 (see 2 below)


The act aims to improve your experience of using health services and to support you to become more involved in your health and healthcare.

It gives you the right to know that the healthcare you receive will consider your needs and what would most benefit your health and wellbeing. It also encourages you to take part in decisions about your health and wellbeing, and gives you the information and support you need to do so. It sets out that NHS bodies should encourage patients to give feedback or comments, or raise concerns or complaints, on healthcare.

Name or title

Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities


Under the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, Scottish Ministers have published a Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities, which summarises the duties of relevant NHS bodies and the behaviour expected from people using services.

The charter states that everyone's needs, preferences, culture, beliefs, values and level of understanding will be taken into account and respected when they use NHS services. You have the right to ask those providing your care whether the care they suggest is right for you and if they can suggest any alternatives.

The charter also states that you have the right to be given all the information you need about your medicines, any possible side effects, and other options which may be available, in a way you can understand.

Also, it states that you have the right to be involved in decisions about your care and treatment, and be able to take an active part in discussions and decisions about your health and treatment.

Name or title

NHS complaints process


As set out in the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, you have a right to give feedback on, or to make a complaint about, the care you have received from the NHS, and your NHS Board should encourage you to do so.

You should make your complaint to the person or organisation that you are complaining about (for example, if it is a complaint about a GP, make your complaint to the surgery). If you do not want to make a direct complaint, or your complaint has not been sorted out, you should contact your local Health Board or Special Health Board.

Name or title

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)


The SPSO is the final stage for complaints about most devolved public services, including the NHS.

If you are unhappy with the Health Board's final decision about your complaint (see above), you can ask the SPSO to review it. The SPSO can look at what your complaint is about and the decisions medical professionals made. They can make recommendations on how individuals' complaints can be resolved and on how systems can be improved.

The SPSO is also the complaints standards authority. They have a duty to monitor, share best practice on complaints handling, and set up complaints procedures for organisations, including the NHS, and they must follow these procedures by law. In this role, the SPSO provides support and training for those handling complaints.

The SPSO's services are free and independent, and their powers and duties come mainly from the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002. The SPSO is a Scottish Parliamentary Supported Body, with the same level of independence as the commissioners mentioned in chapter 3.

Name or title

Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS)


For help and advice with complaints, you can contact your local PASS.

PASS was set up by the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 to provide advice and support services to patients and other members of the public in relation to the health service.


promotes an awareness and understanding of patients' rights and responsibilities (and in particular, promotes awareness of the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities);

advises and supports people who want to give feedback or comments or raise concerns or complaints about healthcare;

provides information and advice on matters it considers people using the health service would be interested in; and

makes people aware of and, if appropriate, directs them to:

  • other sources of advice and support; and
  • those who can represent them (for example, advocates).

Name or title

Care Opinion


The Care Opinion website allows you to share your experience of health or care services online, and is another way of providing feedback on services provided by the NHS.

Care Opinion is a non-profit community-interest company. They read the stories they receive and, where appropriate, publish them on their website. They also try to email relevant staff in the services a copy of the story (if these services are signed up to Care Opinion). Often staff will reply to the stories on the website.

Name or title

Regulatory bodies


You can complain to the relevant healthcare professional bodies (see 3 below) (for instance, the General Medical Council, General Pharmaceutical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council) if you have serious concerns about a health or care worker's fitness to practise.

These bodies hold the lists of healthcare professionals who are licensed to practise in the UK

Name or title

Organisational Duty of Candour Procedure


The organisational Duty of Candour legislation (see 4 below) sets out the procedure that organisations providing health services, care services and social work services in Scotland must follow by law when there has been an unintended or unexpected incident that results in death or harm (or further treatment is needed to prevent injury that would result in death or harm).

The purpose of the legislation is to make sure that organisations tell those affected that an unintended or unexpected incident has happened, apologise, involve them in meetings about the incident, review what happened so they can find areas that could be improved, and learn from the incident (taking account of the views of relevant people).

Name or title

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Yellow Card Scheme


Through the Yellow Card Scheme, patients and members of the public can report a suspected problem with a medicine or medical device to the MHRA.

The MHRA regulate medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK.



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