Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Wednesday) said that clinical leadership and the commitment of local staff will be key to the continued deliverance of major health reforms over the coming year. Deputy Doherty was speaking following an update from the Department of Health on the progress to date made by the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).
“Huge progress has been made over the last year, thanks to the commitment and drive of local clinical managers, nursing staff and health professionals, who have shown an impressive desire to embrace change. If we take a look at our emergency departments; the total number of people waiting on trolleys in hospitals across the country for the first 16 days of January 2012 was 27% lower than the same period last year.
“When it comes to scheduled care, impressive results are being achieved. Ninety-five per cent of hospitals have met the target of ensuring no patient is waiting more than 12 months for elective surgery. This accounts for 41 hospitals; the figure for 2010 was just 28 hospitals.
“The Special Delivery Unit (SDU), which was established by Minister Reilly last June, is producing tangible improvements in how hospitals provide care and manage the inflow of patients, particularly at peak times of year. The SDU is providing tailored guidance to hospitals on how to cope with, and reduce, overcrowding in emergency departments.
“The success of the SDU to date will be further built on over the coming year, with more ambitious targets than before. It will aim to ensure that 95% of patients will be discharged or admitted within six hours of registration at an emergency department. We also want to ensure no one is waiting nine months for planned surgery and further targets will be set to improve access to outpatient and diagnostic services.
“Hospital management and frontline health staff must be commended for their tremendous work over the last year. What they have achieved shows reform can be realised even in an environment of severe cutbacks. 2012 will be a year of massive challenges for the health sector, but I believe significant further reforms can be achieved. This can’t work without the continued support of the public servants who are bringing about real change. They must be commended and supported in this difficult task.”