THE director of operations for Health Executive Service (HSE) West, John Hennessy, yesterday called for the criteria in which acute hospitals are evaluated through the HSE Healthstat system to be changed.
Mr Hennessy’s call comes after the past three monthly Healtstat reports identified the main acute hospital in the west, University College Hospital Galway (UCHG), to be the only hospital in the red zone.
Healthstat evaluated 30 hospitals using the green, amber and red system of rating hospital services.
Mr Hennessy said that the label attached to UCHG of being the worst performing hospital in the country “does an enormous dis-service to the staff at the hospital” and is unfair.
At May’s HSE West Forum meeting, the chairman of the forum, Fine Gael Councillor Padraig Conneely, said that “the hospital continues to be in the red light district”.
“There are serious issues at the hospital and I take no pleasure in saying it, but the hospital is the worst performing in the country,” Mr Coneely said.
However, in an interview, Mr Hennessy said that Healthstat should widen its criteria so that it can focus on the quality of care at the hospital.
He said: “I think it would be helpful if Healthstat did contain a metric that picked up on quality of care of treatment. That would put a balance on the overall report.
“There is no question that there is any deficiency in the treatment or the care that is provided to patients at UCHG.
Mr Hennessy said it was unfair for the hospital to be labelled the worst performing.
He said: “There are genuinely world-class clinicians providing service there. The treatments and outcomes are excellent and it is unfair to hospital staff for that label ‘worst performing hospital’ to be used. The sooner we get away from that the better.
Mr Hennessy said the Healthstat system has identified deficits in the hospital’s A&E and outpatient waiting lists.
“There are important performance indicators and they should be managed, but I’m confident that this corner will be turned.”
Mr Hennessy remarked: “UCHG is a big system to turns things around and it takes a considerable amount of time; it is like an ocean liner.
“The health warning I am giving to my own people is that it does take time to turn this around,” Mr Hennessy said.
“If it was easy and quick, we would have it done by now, but I am quite confident that we are doing the right things to get the turnaround that we require.”
The HSE has advertised for a new management team to manage the Galway University Hospital Group and Mr Hennessy said this will improve the performance of the hospital.
“I’m quite certain they will make a difference,” Mr Hennessy claimed.
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