We believe that there are many areas in the health service that need urgent reform. We are currently actively campaigning in these areas:
We believe that the present complaints procedure is a disaster. Review panels should be independent (hospitals currently pay for panels and usually hold them on their premises) Panels must be able to recommend disciplinary action. There must be penalties for organisations/practitioners who don’t conform to the set time limits.
Healthcare Powers of Attorney (Proxies)
We believe the government should make parliamentary time to pass a bill giving us the right to appoint a third party to make medical decisions on our behalf if we lose the capacity to do so for ourselves – the so-called Healthcare Powers of Attorney. They promised to do this back in 1999. Why are we still waiting?
We believe that the BMA proposal for an ‘opt-out scheme’, so that doctors can remove organs from any patient declared dead, unless they have registered their objection, must be resisted. Organ donation is a generous gift. It is not an obligation. Doctors want to rely on human inertia to boost the number of available organs. We must make sure that this does not happen. We also believe that giving general anaesthetic whould be mandatory before organs are removed from donors who are still breathing.
Access to medical records
We believe that patients have an absolute right to view and obtain copies of their health records. This access should be free and uncensored. It is not good enough that we have to wait up to 40 days, pay up to £50, and then find that doctors have removed anything they consider ‘harmful’ to us. Any inaccuracies should be corrected, with a note to say when and why the alterations was made
We believe that Living Wills (where we can lay down what treatment we would accept or refuse if we can no longer make our wishes known) should be given legal backing by Act of Parliament. Though court cases have shown that a valid Living Will must be respected, many doctors still resist the idea and need a little extra persuasion.
We believe that any patient struck off a doctor’s list has the right to be given a reason – and should have the opportunity for independent mediation.
We campaigned for over two years for a new consent form, so that patients no longer sign that everything has been explained to them, with no record of what has been explained. The new form launched by the Department of Health on 1 April 2002 is an enormous step in the right direction. See