By Bill Heaney

Scottish Labour has urged the SNP-Green government to back law changes to strengthen the rights of patients and bereaved families.

On Wednesday MSPs will debate amendments to the bill introducing a Patient Safety Commissioner for Scotland, and Scottish Labour will be pressing a series of amendments designed to deliver Milly’s Law.

Milly Main and her mother, Kimberley Darroch.

Named after Milly Main, who died in controversial circumstances at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Glasgow, Labour’s plans aim to reset the balance between families and powerful public bodies and ensure that bereaved families are at the heart of the response to disasters and public scandals.

At Stage 2 of this bill, the SNP and the Greens teamed up to vote down Labour amendments which would have delivered Milly’s Law.

The party has welcomed the change of heart from SNP Ministers and has been working with them to deliver the following changes to the bill:

  • A duty on the Patient Safety Commissioner for Scotland to advocate for those affected by a major incident in relation to the safety of health care;
  • A Patient Safety Charter for the benefit of patients and their representatives, with powers of accountability as to health care provider’s compliance with the charter;
  • A duty on the Commissioner to determine whether it is in the public interest to respond to a major incident, and if so, they should ensure patients affected and family members are aware of the Commissioner’s role;
  • A duty to provide patients affected and family members with information relating to sources of support, including information on accessing legal support, and details of any investigations or inquiries relating to the major incident;
  • A duty to provide information for whistleblowers on how to disclose information relating to the major incident;
  • A copy of a report by the Commissioner into a major incident, which can be used in legal proceedings, must be provided to the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

Scottish Labour Health spokesperson Jackie Baillie, pictured right,  said “The SNP and the Greens have already betrayed patients once during this bill – they must not do the same again. I welcome the change of heart and the co-operation of the Scottish Government in delivering Milly’s Law.

“Too often patients and families hit by scandals in our healthcare system are failed by those in power and forced to fight for justice.

“This bill is an important chance to start tipping the balance of power back towards patients and it is essential that the SNP-Green government take this opportunity by backing Labour’s plans.”

Milly’s mother, Kimberly Darroch, said: “I urge MSPs from all parties to do the right thing and ensure that patients and families come first, and are never an afterthought.

“Right now, the system is stacked against those who have questions about what happened to their loved ones – that can’t be right.

“We are looking to our parliament to put measures in place so that nobody has to go through what we went through ever again.”

Top picture: Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who has been campaigned vigorously to have Milly’s Law passed by the Scottish Parliament, with Kimberley Darroch.

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