Hospitalisation rates for heart failure and diabetes have fallen substantially in the last decade, according to a new report.
The third annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System shows there has been a 40% reduction in in-hospital mortality rates for those hospitalised with a heart attack.
The hospitalisation rate for diabetes fell by 30% between 2007 and 2014 to 129 per 100,000 population. It stood at 94 per 100,000 in 2016.
More than 80% of patients who experience a stroke are now admitted to hospitals with dedicated stroke units, and 30-day mortality rates from haemorrhagic and ischaemic stroke have fallen by 5% and 28%, respectively, over the last 10 years.
There have been significant improvements in cancer screening and treatment services, with screening rates for both breast and cervical cancer comparing favourably against other OECD countries — five-year survival rates from both cancers continue to improve.
Almost all breast cancer surgical activity has now been centralised to the designated cancer centres, and breast cancer surgical activity in these centres has increased by approximately 17% over the past four years alone.
The majority of colorectal cancer surgery now takes place in designated cancer centres and five-year survival rates for those diagnosed with colorectal cancer continue to increase annually.
However, the reporting system also highlighted areas that need improvement. It said that “despite widespread acceptance that the use of vaccines has saved thousands of lives in Ireland”, the uptake for many of these has not reached national targets and there is wide variation in uptake across the country.
Just one third of staff working in hospitals availed of the vaccine against seasonal influenza this year, even though staff immunisation has been demonstrated to reduce flu-related deaths by 40%.
The uptake of the vaccine against HPV in teenage girls has also declined substantially in recent years, with some areas reporting just 60% uptake in 2015 and 2016.
The report also highlights significant improvements in relation to MRSA over the past decade, with a 66% reduction in rates of infection resistant to methicillin over the period.
Health Minister Simon Harris said it was encouraging that there have been improvements in many areas but more work needs to be done.
National Patient Safety Office director Kathleen Mac Lellan said the data contained in the report should play a key role in helping to improve services.
“Follow-up actions as appropriate should be taken by the responsible heath service provider,” she said.
Patient Focus chief executive Brigid Doherty, who is also a member of the reporting system’s committee, urged health service providers to influence change and to improve the quality and safety of the service they deliver.
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