Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Patient Ombudsman

Dear Minister Hoskins:

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) commends the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for seeking public input on the qualities the person in the Patient Ombudsman role must possess.

In September 2014, RNAO wrote to the Premier concerning the creation of a patient ombudsman through the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act. While we welcome, and have long called for, ombudsman oversight within the health-care system, we were concerned about the placement of this position within Health Quality Ontario. Instead, we recommended expanding the jurisdiction of the provincial ombudsman to include health care. Unfortunately, our recommendations were not adopted.

RNAO now encourages the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to consider mandating that the Patient Ombudsman be a regulated health-care professional. We specifically recommend appointing either a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) to the role, because RNs and NPs , :

  • are consistently rated by the public as the most trusted occupation;
  • are proven leaders who recognize how one’s values, assumptions and positional power impact interactions;
  • are highly proficient in understanding the experience of health and illness;
  • fully understand the broader determinants of health;
  • comprehend the structure of the health-care system and how to navigate it;
  • exercise a high level of judgment in their day-to-day practice;
  • are prepared as generalists who enter into a variety of practice settings with individuals, groups and populations of all genders, cultures and age;
  • maintain a body of knowledge regarding health-care issues, health sciences, social sciences, humanities, work environments and research;
  • exercise critical inquiry to support professional judgment and evidence-informed decision- making;
  • demonstrate honesty, integrity and respect in all professional interactions; and
  • maintain professional boundaries.

For these reasons, RNAO feels that an RN or NP would be ideally suited as Ontario’s first Patient Ombudsman. We encourage you to consider this when recruiting for the role.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding the role or the recruitment process.

Warm regards,

Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), O.ONT.
Chief Executive Officer
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

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