Public and private standards welcomed

The new National Standards for Safer and Better Healthcare, which he said were the first standards that spanned the public and private sectors, were welcomed by Mr. Fergus Clancy, Chief Executive Officer of the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin, when he addressed the HMI Forum.

The new National Standards for Safer and Better Healthcare, which he said were the first standards that spanned the public and private sectors, were welcomed by Mr. Fergus Clancy, Chief Executive Officer of the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin and patient safety expert, when he addressed the HMI Forum in the Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

Fergus Clancy
Fergus Clancy

Before his appointment as CEO of the Mater Private Hospital, Mr. Clancy worked in the patient safety area for 20 years and was an adviser on patient safety to both public and private hospitals.   He was also a member of the Implementation Steering Group of the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (the Madden Commission).

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Looking at how the standards came into being, he said that in the 1990s there was a growing understanding of the need for hospitals to become involved in regulatory activities in some way.  There was talk of accreditation and public and private sectors worked together for a while on the details of how accreditation should work.  Private hospitals embraced accreditation by external agents, mainly by Joint Commission International (JCI) in the United States, while some public hospitals went with the Irish health Services Accreditation Board.

“In the private sector, there was a wider uptake, but the pace of change was probably the same in those hospitals who embraced accreditation in both sectors” he said.

“Since then we have had HIQA, the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance and, for the first time we have got standards that span the two sectors.  I believe, however imperfect these standards are (and no standards are ever perfect) we should embrace them and seek to improve them as we go on.

“We have to strive for level standards between all providers.  Standards may make life more difficult for us at times, but that is to be expected and we have to embrace them or we will not achieve licensing.

In the private sector, there was a wider uptake, but the pace of change was probably the same

“HIQA leads are doing well in this process and it is great to see a publicly funded body taking such an open approach.”

He said that hopefully the work is so embedded that most of which Minister Harney has sponsored in this space will keep going. One of the recommendations of the Madden Commission was for a mandatory licensing system which should span both pubic and private systems and be equitable and transparent.

“We now have a set of standards that we should all get behind.  We need a set of standards for the public and private sectors, for primary care, for acute secondary care and for tertiary care.  The details will evolve as we move towards implementation.

“It is very important now that the integrity of the process up to now will be maintained as we move forward in assessing compliance with standards.  The education of those who will implement standards must be wholly consistent in the interpretation of the standards with the intentions of those who drew them up.  We need to find the right balance of good quality inspectors.

“We must keep the patient experience central to our interaction and we need to make sure that the process doesn’t deteriorate into something like the police coming, so let’s tidy the shop up for a few weeks to keep our licence.

“It depends on us whether the new standards will improve the patients’ experience – it is essential that we try and get as engaged as possible.”