Tanaiste says patient safety and quality care come first in review of hospital services in north east

14 June 2006

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD said today (June 14th): ‘Following a number of disturbing clinical incidents in the north east region last year, the Health Service Executive commissioned Teamwork Management Services to undertake a review of hospitals in the North East on how to improve patient safety and achieve better standards.’

‘The report also comes after the Report of Judge Maureen Harding Clarke on Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.’

‘The Teamwork report concludes that the present system, where five local hospitals deliver acute care to relatively small populations is exposing patients to increased risks and creating additional professional risks for staff. This is not serving patients well and is not sustainable.’

‘The report also highlights the opportunity over the next 10 years to develop a very high quality responsive emergency and planned care service, in line with international standards, by developing local services within existing hospitals and other local centres supported by a new Regional Hospital.’

‘There will be a widespread public engagement by the HSE on the issues highlighted in the report. I would encourage all interested parties to participate. I look forward to constructive contributions to this public engagement with a focus on what is best for patients.’

‘Government policy is to build up health services in all regions of the country, to ensure quality and safe patient care.’

‘I cannot emphasise enough that for me quality care and patient safety come first. This clearly comes first for individual patients and is going to come first in decisions on investment, reform and hospital planning.’

‘No matter what county or region they come from, all patients should receive the same standard of quality-assured care. To achieve this, some procedures require high volumes of cases and specialisation that can only be provided at large regional centres, networked to other hospitals in the region.’

‘This has been demonstrated worldwide, and as recently as this week in Ireland, with the publication of the National Cancer Forum report.’

‘In terms of acute bed capacity, since 1997, we have provided an average of nearly 200 new acute hospital beds per year. We are continuing to invest in public hospital facilities and beds. Our capital programme includes investment in 450 more public hospital beds and the initiative to free up 1,000 new public beds by using private investment is now underway.’

‘The Department of Health and Children, the HSE and the Department of Finance have recently commenced a review of national and regional bed capacity requirements up to 2020. This review will be the primary source informing decisions on the future level of acute hospital services.’