The Scottish Government is in regular contact with Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Monthly meetings are arranged between the Scottish Government and the HIS chief executive; the last took place on 11 April 2013. At times there is almost daily contact, during which operational issues are discussed, such as the Scottish patient safety programme, hospital standardised mortality ratios and other HIS organisational issues.
What discussion has the cabinet secretary had with the HIS on progress in risk management associated with death certification, in particular on the Blake Stevenson Ltd report on death certification evaluation? Although the random samples of medical certificates of the cause of death highlighted that only 3 per cent were not in order, any delay in funeral arrangements being made can and does lead to greater distress to relatives during their time of grief. What further work will be done on that?
I am very aware of that issue. We are talking to the HIS and many other people about how to address those concerns. The system is being developed in a way that will minimise delays; processes are being put in place that will ensure that medical reviewers can assess the information that they need quickly, in order to enable reviews to be carried out within a day or so of registration. We anticipate that once the system is up and running, in the vast majority of cases there will be little detectable delay as a result of the new system.
First, I totally disagree with Jackie Baillie’s depiction of “doctored ... reports”. No reports have been “doctored”, as she called it.
Secondly, as far as Labour’s proposals are concerned, we already have independent arrangements for inspection of hospitals, whether in relation to issues such as Clostridium difficile or the circumstances of older people in hospitals. Of course, we also have an independent inspection agency to cover our care services.