Section 18: Patient Advice and Support Service
54.Section 18 outlines the services that the Patient Advice and Support Service will provide to patients and members of the public.
55.Subsection (2)(a) and (b) place a duty on the Patient Advice and Support Service to promote awareness and understanding of the rights and responsibilities of patients (in particular, promote awareness of the Charter) and to advise people who want to complain, raise concerns or give feedback about healthcare. In practice, this might mean, for example, advising a patient who wanted to complain about their GP how to do so, and providing guidance to the patient as to whether the complaint is a matter for the GP practice complaints system, or whether it is a regulatory matter that should be referred to the regulatory body.
56.Subsections (2)(c) and (e) provide that the Patient Advice and Support Service is to provide other information and advice on subjects as it considers likely to be of interest to people using the health service, or as the Agency may specify. Subsection (2)(d) provides that the service must also advise people of other sources of help and advice, including services providing advocacy or representation.
57.Subsections (3) and (4) set out that the provider of the Patient Advice and Support Service is not prevented from providing advice on matters other than the health service, but this must not interfere with its provision of advice and support in relation to health matters.
58.Subsection (5) sets out examples of the patient responsibilities of which the patient advice and support service is to raise awareness and understanding. An example of such a patient responsibility might be to attend an agreed appointment or to cancel if necessary, well in advance, so that an appointment can be offered to another patient.