Patients’ access to records and information key priorities, says new HSE chairman

THE new chairman of the HSE has identified patients’ access to their own medical records and greater use of information technology as key priorities during his term of office.

Dr Frank Dolphin, who took up his position as chair of the HSE’s board in recent weeks, said yesterday that IT can bring about “substantive changes” in what the organisation is trying to achieve to provide more information to patients.

“I think we’re going to find that we will move to a stage where, for example, patient records will be something that will be accessible to the individual patient: that your records will be mobile with you, that when you go from one care centre to another those records will be there, that the information is available.”

He also said the good work being done by the HSE was often ignored while its mistakes are heavily – “sometimes unfairly” – criticised. “When we get it right, people, I suppose by right, take it for granted.

“When we get it wrong, it is one of the immediate reactions to highlight where it’s wrong,” said Dr Dolphin.

The new chairman referred to a comment made by former chief Professor Brendan Drumm, that the process of transferring the services from the old health boards to a new, unified organisation is a 15-year programme.

“The first five years are now over. I think that bringing a number of organisations into one will always have its challenges, will always have its difficulties.”

Being challenged is “part of our job” and “not something that we should fear,” however, he said, and the HSE should always be looking towards higher standards as well as communicating what it does well.

Dr Dolphin was speaking after his first official engagement – the opening of Dungarvan Community Hospital in Co Waterford.

The €10 million project involved replacing the former St Vincent’s District Hospital with a new 32-bed unit for convalescent, respite and palliative care patients.

It has also been amalgamated with the care and rehabilitation services provided at the former St Joseph’s Hospital.

The HSE chair said that the role of the new community hospital will be focused on providing non-acute services to complement those provided at Waterford Regional Hospital.


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