The standard of care in our hospitals and nursing homes isn't up to scratch according to a new survey for the health watchdog HIQA.
REDC pollsters have spoken to over a thousand people about their experiences with the health system over the last five years.
Almost two thirds of people in Ireland have witnessed sub-standard health and social care services.
HIQA says of particular concern is the third who have witnessed physical or emotional abuse.
The poll also found that there was widespread misunderstanding of regulation, with many mistakenly believing private hospitals are independently monitored.
An overwhelming 95% agreed that there ought to be clear accountability when standards drop.
With the Grace case still fresh in the public's mind, CEO Phelim Quinn says now is the time to introduce new laws to protect those who're at-risk of abuse in the system.
Mr Quinn commented: “Unfortunately, it is still too common for the public to witness the poor provision of health and social care services. Many of the areas where poor provision is witnessed are currently not independently regulated.
"The poll shows that regulating these services enjoys broad public support. Only through the extension of regulation will we get the safe and effective services that the public desires and deserves.
“The poll also shows that there is widespread misunderstanding of which areas of health and social care are currently independently regulated and monitored. Given the results, there may be some surprise among the public to discover that there is currently no independent regulation of private hospitals or homecare services."
Key poll findings:
· There is strong support for respecting the rights of vulnerable people and for accountability and independent oversight of health and social care services. 96% agreed that it was important that the rights of vulnerable people in long-term residential settings are respected, 95% agreed that there ought to be clear accountability when provision of health and social care services falls below set standards, and 93% agreed that having independent oversight of health and social care services is important to ensure that they are safe and effective.
· Poor provision of public services was witnessed across a range of health and social care services in the last five years. It was found that 47% of people witnessed poor provision in public hospitals, 21% witnessed poor provision in homecare services and 21% witnessed poor provision in nursing homes. Of those who witnessed poor provision in nursing homes, 36% witnessed physical or emotional abuse. While for those who witnessed poor provision in homecare services, 24% witnessed physical or emotional abuse.
· There is widespread misunderstanding of which services are currently independently regulated or monitored. For example, when asked whether services were independently regulated or monitored, 83% believed that private hospitals were, 80% believed that primary care centres were, and 76% believed homecare services were. However, none of these services are currently independently regulated or monitored.
· The aspects of service that the poll found were most important to ensuring good health and social care provision were that you and your family are treated with dignity at all times when accessing health and social services (88%), that your privacy is respected and maintained (85%) and that there are clear standards and guidance in place to help staff to provide safe and effective care (84%).
· There is strong support for the independent regulation of a range of services. The highest levels of support were for homecare services (90%), public hospitals (90%), and community-based services for people with disabilities (88%).
· Of those polled, 63% were aware of HIQA. However, there was much stronger awareness of HIQA among over 65s (93%) than among 18-24 year olds (36%). The aspect of HIQA’s work for which there was the strongest level of awareness was its regulatory role, with 57% of the population aware of this function.