Almost three in four patients who needed to be admitted to Irish hospitals had to wait longer than the Government's target waiting time of six hours, a major new survey has shown.
And almost half of patients did not receive enough information to manage their condition after they were discharged from hospital.
The findings were contained in the first National Patient Experience Survey, which has just been published.
This survey is a joint initiative being run by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the HSE and the Department of Health.
This marks the first survey of its kind ever undertaken in Ireland by a partnership of the health service, the Department of Health and HIQA. However, Irishhealth.com's Rate My Hospital service has been surveying patients on a rolling basis since 2006.
This latest survey was carried out in May and it gave almost 27,000 patients, who had been discharged from a public hospital, an opportunity to describe their experience. Over half of those eligible took part, which is considered an excellent response rate.
The findings revealed that when it came to admission to hospital, 79% described their experience as very good or good, however, 21% said it was fair to poor. Some 70% of people were left waiting longer than six hours to be admitted.
When it came to care on the ward, most described this as very good or good, however 15% said it was fair to poor, and 49% could not always find a member of staff to talk to about their worries and fears.
When it came to examination, diagnoses and treatment, 20% described this as fair to poor and 40% said they did not always have enough time to discuss their care and treatment with a doctor.
Meanwhile, major problems were noted when it came to the area of discharge or transfer, with 40% describing this as fair to poor and just 39% describing it as very good.
Some 43% of patients said they did not receive enough information to manage their condition after they were discharged, with some patients stating that they felt discharge procedures were very rushed.
The report on the findings noted that ‘most of the patients who completed the survey had positive experiences of acute healthcare. However, a large number of people had negative experiences during their time in hospital'.
However, it also noted that most people felt that they were treated with respect and dignity throughout their hospital stay and most had confidence and trust in the staff who treated them.
Speaking at the launch of the findings, the Health Minister, Simon Harris, said that they show that ‘the efforts which have been made in recent years to put the patient at the heart of the health service, and to transform the culture in our hospitals, are bearing fruit'.
"For those areas where improvement has been identified, I know that the HSE has already moved to develop its response, both at a national and an individual hospital level. I look forward to seeing those plans successfully implemented and reflected in further iterations of this survey," he commented.
Also speaking about the results, Sheila O'Connor of the national patient advocacy organisation, Patient Focus, said that it is ‘relieved' to see a large number of patients were treated with dignity and respect.
"However, Patient Focus emphasises that this should be a right for all patients. Over one-third of patients who responded to the survey said they were not involved enough in decisions about their care, and this issue needs to be addressed.
"We know from research that patients who are engaged in their healthcare decisions have better outcomes," she noted.
For more on the survey, including the results from your local hospital, click here
Meanwhile, anyone who has stayed in a hospital at any time can always give their views on Rate My Hospital here