Cork University Hospital (CUH) has the lowest rate of day surgery of all the major hospitals in the country even though day cases cost on average 60% less than inpatient cases and the hospital is over budget by almost €5m.
CUH’s poor performance vis-a-vis day surgery is outlined in a special report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) examining trends in day cases in public hospitals around the country.
The Managing Elective Day Surgery report, released yesterday, said while the eight teaching hospitals — of which CUH is one — carry out broadly the same set of procedures, poor performance in some areas drags down the overall rate.
In the case of CUH, the hospital had a very low day surgery rate for the procedure “extraction of cataract” and this was impacting significantly on the hospital’s overall rate.
The day surgery rate in four of the five major hospitals where this procedure is carried out was at 97% in 2012. However the rate in CUH was 67%. CUH also had the lowest overall day surgery rate of the teaching hospitals at 69%.
CUH yesterday acknowledged that the figure of 69% is lower than the national target of 75%.
The HSE has set a day surgery target rate of 75% across 24 procedures including tonsillectomy, circumcision and bunion operations.
In a statement, CUH said a number of initiatives have been put in place including the ‘Day of Surgery Admission Unit’ and an enhanced ‘Pre-Operative Assessment Unit’ “which have contributed to greater efficiencies in elective day case surgeries”.
CUH said it should also be noted that the hospital is at the centre of a major acute services reorganisation programme which directs the majority of major and complex surgery to CUH whilst transferring some of the non-complex activity to other acute hospitals.
“This can bias some of the performance metric, e.g. ophthalmology (eye) surgery which is a large proportion of elective day case activity, has transferred from CUH to the SIVUH,” the hospital said.
The report also looked at the performance of general and regional hospitals.
Out of 22 such hospitals, average day surgery rates ranged from 51% to 86%, with Kerry General Hospital leading the way.
There was good news as well yesterday for CUH. As part of its green initiatives, the hospital made savings of €96,318 last year, enough to provide heating and power to 66 households a year.
The campus also improved its waste management with an increase in the waste recycling rate to 34%.
CUH campus has become the first Irish member of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals , a worldwide network of health care providers, committed to making their operations more sustainable.
The top civil servant in the Department of Health has decided to step down — just weeks after a new minister came into the department.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has announced secretary general Ambrose McLoughlin will be moving to a new role supporting the implementation of the Healthy Ireland initiative.
Dr McLoughlin will not leave Hawkins House until his successor has been appointed. He is due to retire next June after 40 years of service.
Mr Varadkar paid tribute to Dr McLoughlin for piloting the department through one of its most challenging periods.
Chair of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, TD Jerry Buttimer, thanked Dr McLoughlin for his work, saying his “experience, knowledge, and dedication to improving our health service have always been evident”.
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