Pay deal sees 2,400 health staff redeployed
Department claims significant improvement due to public service agreement
The ambulance service is currently being reconfigured
Significant progress has been made in implementing change in the health service under the public service agreement, according to a progress report published by the Department of Health.
The service is delivering improved results for patients in spite of reductions in staffing and increased demand, the report states.
Meanwhile, the agreement is facilitating the rollout of innovative programmes that will improve patient care, particularly in mental health, stroke programmes and disability services, it is claimed.
Some 2,400 staff were redeployed or reassigned to new duties under the terms of the agreement in the last eight months of 2012, the period covered by the report, and staff numbers fell by 1,300. However, delays are reported in reforms planned, notably the National Ambulance Service, primary care and elderly care.
The ambulance service, at the centre of several recent callout controversies, is being reconfigured, with the previous network of regional control centres being replaced by two locations, Ballyshannon in Co Donegal and Tallaght. The report says delays in obtaining facilities, computer procurement and recruitment have affected progress.
Delays have been experienced in implementing new work practices to improve the time it takes the service to respond to calls. A 45-second target for allocating calls and mobilising staff was supposed to have been reached in mid-2012. The report says staff unions withdrew from discussions but have since agreed to re-engage.
Some 485 primary care teams were supposed to be in operation by the end of 2012, but only 426 were set up. The report, which covers the last eight months of 2012, says there were over 20,000 fewer patients on trolleys in 2012 than the year before. Nine-month waiting lists for inpatients and day-case surgery were down 98 per cent. The average length of stay in hospital, a key determinant of costs, has fallen from 8.7 days to 7.2 days.
The report acknowledges the HSE undershot its €750 million cost-reduction target by €350 million last year, necessitating a supplementary budget.