Covid: Six of 10 inspected hospitals ‘non-compliant’ with infection-control procedures

Poor infrastructure, capacity issues and workforce challenges hindered efforts in 2020, Hiqa reports

Six out of 10 hospitals inspected last year were non-compliant with aspects of infection-control procedures against Covid-19, according to a report from the State’s health watchdog.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) says recurring issues around poor physical infrastructure, capacity issues and workforce challenges often hindered efforts to cope with the pandemic.

Despite increases in investment, some services continue to be proportionately less resourced than other, and the issues around infrastructure and capacity have been worsened by the pandemic, Hiqa says.

Hospital Report

The hospital system adapted swiftly to cope with the pandemic, and progress has been made in achieving compliance with standards across various areas monitored, according to an overview report of the monitoring and regulation of healthcare services in 2020.


"In most instances, we found an effective approach to adapt to this unprecedented crisis in hospitals," said Hiqa's director of regulation, Mary Dunnion. "However, hospitals' efforts were made more difficult due to underlying historic problems with infrastructure, limited bed capacity and unequal or limited access to specialist workforce input and advice – problems that Hiqa's prior monitoring work against national standards has consistently highlighted."

Naas General Hospital was non-compliant for three standards: governance arrangements to deliver safe and effective infection control; the provision of a safe and clean environment that minimises the risk of transmission of infections; and having a system in place to manage and control infection outbreaks in a timely and effective manner.

Five other hospitals that were inspected were non-compliant in relation to one of the five standards: Mayo University Hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital, Wexford General Hospital, Tallaght University Hospital and University Hospital Kerry.

University Hospital Waterford, Letterkenny University Hospital, University Hospital Limerick and Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar recorded no non-compliances with the standards.

Of 18 inspections carried out in and rehabilitation community inpatient services, only one – Belmullet Community Hospital – was non-compliant in relation to one of the standards.

However, the infrastructure of hospitals inspected was found to be poor, and Hiqa found improvements were required in all but one services.

Hiqa conducted 66 inspections in healthcare services in 2020.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times