Politicians and ex-government ministers have signed an open letter calling for the appointment of an NHS patients’ safety commissioner.
The drive follows a report by the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, chaired by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, which called for the official to be put in place and act as the “golden thread” to tie the system together.
During the two-year review, which led to the near-300 page report, Baroness Cumberlege and her team met people who had suffered avoidable harm in the health service.
She concluded that the service as a whole, including the NHS, private providers, regulators, professional bodies and others, “is disjointed, siloed, unresponsive and defensive”.
Henry McLeish, who served as first minister between 2000 and 2001, and Alex Neil, who was health secretary under Alex Salmond from 2012 to 2014, both signed the letter, as did Malcolm Chisholm, who was health secretary from 2001 to 2004.
Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, Labour leader Richard Leonard and Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie all put their names to the letter, as did the co-leader of the Green Party in Holyrood, Alison Johnstone.
The letter, addressed to health secretary Jeane Freeman, said: “Today, we urge you to rise to the challenge laid down by Baroness Julia Cumberlege in her report, First Do No Harm.
“She revealed the harrowing testimony of many patients harmed by their treatment, including pelvic mesh, and how their voice went unheard and unheeded for too long.
“She recommended a patients’ safety commissioner is appointed in England but believes Scotland can lead the way.
“We agree and, further, believe a Scottish Patients’ Commissioner should be appointed to listen to and advocate for all patients, help shape and direct their complaints, and hold a system, which can appear complex, daunting and unresponsive, properly to account.”
It continued: “One voice is more important than any other in our National Health Service. We ask you to ensure that voice is heard and heeded and appoint a Scottish Patients’ Commissioner.”