I understand that the Deputy is referring to a report prepared by HIQA in September 2018 concerning its use of information gathered and received in the regulation of services.
The report outlines how unsolicited information and mandated monitoring notifications are received and reviewed by an inspector of social services who assesses the related risk and decides on a regulatory response. Every piece of information received, whether unsolicited or mandated, is reviewed in such a manner. In the report’s concluding remarks HIQA identifies a small number of areas that would benefit from further review and assessment in terms of its information management. Implementation of any such proposals is an internal matter for the regulator.
As the Deputy will be aware, HIQA, as regulator, has no formal legal role in examining individual complaints; however, the Authority does take into account all information it receives, including complaints from the public, when carrying out inspections. If concerns are raised, HIQA reviews all information received and evaluates it against the regulations and standards. Where issues are identified, HIQA works closely with service providers to agree an appropriate action plan to address these issues and to ensure the required standards are met.
I note that HIQA is very open and transparent in relation to the information it gathers. It publishes an annual report and every individual report relating to the quality and safety of services within its legislative remit. The Chief Inspector also publishes an overview report detailing the quality and safety of services and areas of high risk.
The safety and protection of vulnerable people in the care of the State is paramount. Officials in my Department remain in ongoing contact with relevant health agencies, including HIQA, the Mental Health Commission and the HSE, in relation to safeguarding policy matters, and are working with stakeholders to strengthen safeguarding structures and policies in the health sector nationally.