Opposition MSPs have questioned the need for new legislation on patients rights.

Labour and Liberal Democrat MSPs voiced concerns about the new Patients’ Rights Bill at a Health Committee hearing which took evidence from Scottish government officials on the proposals.

The Bill sets out plans for up to 50 new officers to advise patients on their rights and also creates legally binding guarantees on waiting times.

Fiona Montgomery, Scottish government head of patient support and participation division, said the new advice service would cost around £2m.

MSPs expressed concern that it would duplicate existing services and questioned whether breaches of the legislation would be enforceable. They also questioned whether the legislation would lead to increased litigation claims.

Scottish government health and community care solicitor Kathleen Preston said: “The policy is that these new rights will not lead to court actions by individual patients. That does not mean that the rights are not legal rights.

“There will be a statutory right to complain and there will be a statutory treatment time guarantee, and those rights will be matters of the law.

“Health boards, as a matter of law, will be obliged to comply with the provisions of the Act but it is not the policy that individual patients will be able to sue in court for individual remedies for alleged breach of these rights.”

Nationalist MSP and committee convener Christine Grahame asked: “Nothing of itself in here [the Bill] is enforceable in a court of law?”

“That would be correct”, Ms Preston replied.

Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson told the committee: “It seems to me this Bill is complicating, from the ordinary member of the public’s point of view. This is not simplifying, this is complicating.”

He also queried whether the new Bill would permit damages claims if a patient felt their rights had not been met.

Ms Preston said: “Nothing in the Bill will effect any existing rights of patients to sue for medical negligence.”