HSE chief orders review of hospital emergency departments

Expert group to examine capacity, bed utilisation, manpower and staffing issues

Minister for Health Simon Harris will tell the Oireachtas health committee  he is committed to addressing the concerns of medical professionals in relation to the judgment  in the Ruth Morrissey cervical cancer case

Minister for Health Simon Harris will tell the Oireachtas health committee he is committed to addressing the concerns of medical professionals in relation to the judgment in the Ruth Morrissey cervical cancer case

 

New Health Service Executive boss Paul Reid has ordered an independent review of the performance of nine emergency departments following another winter of overcrowding in hospitals.

Mr Reid, who started work as director general last week, wants the review by an independent expert group completed within three months, he will tell the Oireachtas health committee on Wednesday.

The group will examine capacity, bed utilisation, manpower and staffing issues, according to Mr Reid, and will cover the nine hospitals and their association community healthcare organisations.

Demand for emergency care grew by 7.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year, equivalent to an additional 23,700 patients.

“I fully acknowledge that there is a need for significant improvement in wait times for our patients and this will be a key focus this year,” he says.

Waiting times for care elsewhere in the health system remain too long, despite progress in cutting surgery lists over the past year, he says.

“[The] outpatient waiting list remains too high, with 551,965 waiting for an outpatient appointment. The numbers waiting have been adversely impacted in the early part of 2019 as a result of the strike action.”

Resources

Mr Reid plans to meet senior HSE managers next week over his call for the organisation to achieve financial break-even this year.

“Notwithstanding these strengthened controls, the health service is continuously dealing with increased demands. Therefore this process is intended to ensure that we commit the resources where required, within the available resources.”

The terms of reference of a review of mortuary services at University Hospital Waterford, commissioned in response to revelations of sub-standard conditions in the facility, are currently being finalised and a final report will be available in September, he says. The “expectation” is that a new building will be in place on the site within two years.

Minister for Health Simon Harris will tell the committee on Wednesday he is committed to addressing the concerns of medical professionals in relation to the judgment by Mr Justice Kevin Cross in the Ruth Morrissey cervical cancer case.

Mr Harris says he plans to meet the leadership of the profession as part of his response to the issues raised about screening by the judgment.

“I would ask that those in leadership positions in the medical profession work with me during this time as we reflect on the judgment and form a fuller understanding of the potential implications. This will give us the necessary time and space to consider what actions might be required.”