Hospitals to shut if they 'fail to meet standards'
HOSPITALS WILL be shut down if they fail to meet new standards of healthcare, Minister for Health James Reilly has warned.
The new standards which follow critical reports on Ennis hospital in 2009, Mallow hospital in 2011 and Tallaght hospital last year, come into effect immediately.
Launching National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare for the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) yesterday, Dr Reilly said failure by any hospital to meet the standards would result in it being closed “down the line”.
The new standards apply to all healthcare services provided by or on behalf of the Health Service Executive with the exception of mental health services.
Services covered include hospital care, ambulance services, community care and primary care.
Likening the new system to the work of health inspectors, Dr Reilly said “a lot of people have remarked on the fact that you can be in the middle of a meal in a restaurant and a health inspector can come in and take the meal from in front of you and say ‘I am closing this place, it is not safe’.”
“Yet we know in the past there has been very unsafe practices and very unsafe conditions in some of our hospitals.
“That has to be addressed, and people have to take it seriously,” he warned.
Dr Reilly said the standards were the precursor to a new licensing system for all hospitals which would come later in the year.
However, he said the new standards were now law. They were “mandated from today, from this moment on”.
Some 45 separate standards have been developed to cover patient safety and wellbeing, hospital leadership, governance and management, and use of resources and provision of information among others.
According to the authority, the move is designed to place patients at the heart of the care process, with a major focus on dignity, respect, efficiency and safety.
The authority said patients may have a clear expectation of the standard of care they can expect to receive. The authority also said service providers would be clear on what is expected of them.
Speaking at the announcement of the standards, chief executive Dr Tracey Cooper said the authority had found that “strong leadership, governance and management are essential for the delivery of safe care for patients”.
She said “effective leadership and clear accountability, responsibility, planning and management throughout each service” were now among the requirements for hospitals.
She described the standards as “a vision for safer, better healthcare in Ireland”.
The standards were produced following a consultation process conducted by the authority in which more than 200 submissions were received from members of the public and from interested parties.
NATIONAL STANDARDS PATIENT-DRIVEN AGENDA
THE NEW standards are designed to place patients at the heart of the care process, with a focus on dignity, respect, efficiency and safety, according to the Health Information and Quality Authority.
The 45 standards are grouped into eight “themes” covering the following areas:
“Person-centred” care and support;
Effective care and support;
Safe care and support;
Better health and wellbeing;
Leadership, governance and management;
Use of resources;
Use of information.