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Harney slammed HSE on patient safety
[ by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Health Minister Mary Harney launched a stinging attack on the HSE's record on patient safety in a letter to its Chairman last December, irishhealth.com has learned.
The Minister demanded more comprehensive and regular updates from the HSE on how effectively it was dealing with patient safety and hospital hygiene issues.
The Minister, in her letter to Liam Downey, expressed serious concern at the lack of progress the HSE was making on implementing recommendations to improve patient safety following a number of probes into hospital cancer misdiagnosis scandals in 2008.
These investigations included the Portlaoise, Rebecca O'Malley and 'Ms A', breast cancer testing error probes and the north-east lung cancer x-ray probe, all of which reported last year.
The Minister's comments are contained in a letter to the HSE Chairman dated December 9 last, which dealt with a number of issues, mostly relating to the HSE's service plan for 2009. The documentation was was released under FOI.
On patient safety, the Minister told Mr Downey - "the HSE's progress in implementing the specific recommendations of investigations into a number of very serious incidents is a matter of enormous concern to me."
"I believe there is no more serious obligation on the HSE than to learn from mistakes and speedily and comprehensively implement the recommendations to which it has committed to implement," Ms Harney said.
She added that she was also "extremely anxious" to see further tangible evidence of improvement in relation to hospital hygiene."
The Minister told the HSE Chairman she would be giving consideration, outside the context of the service plan, on how she, as Minister can be satisfied on the subject of safety and hygiene.
Following the publication of the various reports on misdiagnosis scandals in 2008, the HSE gave a number of assurances that was acting on safety issues highlighted in these reports and on patient safety matters in general.
However, the Minister was clearly not satisfied with the the progress being made on safety issues by the end of 2008, which was eight months after the Rebecca O'Malley report and nine months after the Portlaoise review.
The letter shows that in December, the Minister invoked Section 10(2) of the 2004 Health Act to order the HSE to supply her with timescales for the implementation of recommendations and monthly updates in relation to patient safety and hospital hygiene.
irishhealth.com asked the Department of Health what particular safety incidents the Minister was referring to in her December letter, what aspects of the HSE's handling of them had caused her concern and whether she was satisfied with the progress made by the HSE on these safety issues since her letter.
The Department, in response, said the incidents concerned were the probes on care provided to Rebecca O' Malley relating to Limerick Regional and Cork University Hospitals and on pathology services at University Hospital Galway (the 'Ms A' case), both of which were carried out by HIQA; and two other probes carried out by the HSE - the review of breast services at Portlaoise and the north-east radiology review.
"The HSE has taken action to minimise the possibility of any recurrence of similar events," a Department spokesman said.
The spokesman added that each report of the above reviews included a number of recommendations and action plans were drawn up to implement these. "These action plans are being monitored on a regular basis."
In addition, the Department said, the HSE has drawn up and is implementing a serious incident management policy and procedures which includes "learning" from all serious incidents. These outline what must be done, in the event of a serious incident, in order to adhere to the highest possible standards in terms of an appropriate response.
The Department added that the National Cancer Control Programme is continuing to realign services to move away from the present fragmented system of care to one that is consistent with international best practice in cancer control.
The HSE did not comment on why it had not acted more swiftly on the safety issues raised in the misdiagnosis reports.
However, a spokesman told irishhealth.com: it "is dedicated to delivering a health service where everyone has easy access to high quality care that they can have confidence in and that staff are proud to provide."
The spokesman said the HSE had issued progress reports on improvements made following the Rebecca O'Malley and Ms A cancer misdiagnosis cases.
In relation to the Minister's concerns on hygiene standards, the HSE said it has "made publicly available progress reports in relation to driving improvements in hospitals identified as making slower progress through hygiene quality reviews undertaken by HIQA in 2007 and 2008."
Recently, some concern was expressed as to what extent the new eight designated major cancer centres meet current quality and safety criteria for optimal breast cancer care. However, these concerns were dismissed by the Minister and the HSE.
In April, the Minister, referring to a review carried out last October which found that Waterford Regional Hospital was failing to meet most national standards for breast cancer care, said that at the time, none of the eight designated national cancer centres would have met the standards.
This was because they did not at the time have the volume of patients, the clinical expertise or diagnostic equipment, and many of these issues had been addressed since. She said they were standards that had to be aspired to.
However, this was disputed by the patient safety body HIQA, which laid down the standards. It said the standards were not aspirational and the centres must comply with them.
|dignity 09 Posted: 26/06/2009 19:58|
Good to hear she's alive and squirming.
Pity she won't actually DO something about the HSE no more than Michael Shine - hoping it'll all go away.
|Amy Posted: 29/06/2009 10:02|
Good for you, Minister Harney! It's time you told the HSE to get a move on.
|sick of it all Posted: 29/06/2009 13:00|
Well good on ya Mary, the sooner these systems are in place the better. Although becareful what you ask for - you just might get it and now because we are getting rid of all the temporary front line staff the permanant ones will be under more pressure and more mistakes will occur. But dont worry because at least now we will know about the mistakes.
Window dressing is all it is from a politician that knows her politicial career is over.
|Anonymous Posted: 30/06/2009 10:09|
That standards laid down are not aspirational and must be complied with is something I think that all health sectors need to learn.
|PatFitzer Posted: 04/07/2009 03:46|
Isin't it great to have all these policies and mission statements etc. on the walls of our institutions and hospitals. If we had a service that believed in Total Quality Managment we should not need these, it would, and should, not even be a topic of discussion that all stake holders (service-users and staff) work in an enviornemnt of mutual respect and curtsey. I feel that what will happen is that, another front line worker will be fired and another manager will be put in place to enforce these policies.
So the next weekend that I am locked into a community house (one that has been built for able bodied people), with up to 5-10 service-users with both physical and mental and behavioursl issues from Friday at 3pm till Monday morning at 10am (with out a break of any sort for meals or a moment alone) or any sort of help. I will be able to use or show these policies to the service-users and tell them that everything is ok now, because it's written on the wall. And when these service-users ask to be taken out of the house for a trip I can tell them, that, in their interest, that our powers that be,have decided that we need another layer of management and not a front line worker that could actually help implement their rights to community participation and respect for choice and dignity.
In short, the H.S.E. and the Dept. and Europe can create policies up the wazoo but if you put one human being into a situation where they are responsible for, medication, household chores, implementing behavioural support plans, finance, shopping, holidays, finding suitable work placements, medical issues, friendship, support of all sorts, gardening, washing windows, intra-inter personal communication, personal hygiene, inter-agency communication, upkeep of garden furniture, service-user accunts, and the service-users are not able to or will ever be able to particapate in these activities. It does not take an Einstein to figure out that one person can't provide these service that all Service-Users have right to.
The Ryan Report gave an insight into what happens in these institutions and every one went shock horror, "how could this happen". It happened because our society has washed it's hands of these people and want them hidden behind closed walls.
We, as Social Care Workers in the community and Nursing Staff in the institutions provide a level of care that goes beyond a mere job. We look after citizens that society and families don't want to know about. We are the ones that organise the dental visits, we clean up the vomit and feaces and the tears.
I work 130hrs in a two week (65 of those hours being paid at €4.50 per hour) pay period to recieve a wage that young lads going onto building sites bring home for sweeping up.
I have completed a Primary Degree in Social Sciences, I have one year left of a B.A. in Social Studies, I have three years left in a Higher Degree in Psychotherapy and Counselling. I work for a voluntaty body and am five years on relief, I have no golden working conditions, no golden pension, I do not know from one day to the next when I will get a days work. At the moment my employer is bringing workers in from oustide Ireland an half my rate after 5yrs.
I did not reveive one cent in help, either in time in liu or funding for any of these courses. I did not buy a big house in the "Celtic Tiger", I have not had a holiday in 5yrs, and now the Gov has put it's hand in my pocket and stolen one days pay a week from me to pay for the mistakes (most of them criminal) of these bankers and investors, who, even if they see the inside of a courthouse, will still be able to have a holiday this year and know that their houses and membership of their golf courses are secure.
I have experienced 5 care positions being axed in my area in the last year and not one posion from adm being axed.
Everyone is gasping re the situations in these religious run organisations but not one move has been made for the state to take over the runnin of these organisations. They have not gone away you know, and generations of these organisations being able to act like gods within their high walls has not gone away either. There was even an incident at a recent dinner party where the head Brother in the organistation boasted that the organisatioin "got" the whistle blower, I walked out of the dinner. Most did not (as they are afraid of being fired or constructivly dismissed)
All the paperwork in the workd will not change the fact that we need more accountability at senior leval and not three managers for every three front line staff.
Phew, thats all for now
|dignity 09 Posted: 07/07/2009 09:02|
It's a desperate shame that the people that take care of people that can't take care of themselves get less reward than the people that fuck up the system. Be it bad management, sleezy practice, bad babking or plain criminals and paedophiles.
Like our kakistocracy (governance by the worst citizens) it seems that those that perform least get the lions share of the top jobs. Possibly because they've too much time on their hands - not doing what they should.
|CATHY Posted: 16/07/2009 13:39|
Dec to July long wait Ms Harney, you are the minister , you should have or should do something, JUST DO IT.
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