News from around your health services

HSE appoints Chief Operations Officer
Laverne McGuinness
Laverne McGuinness

Ms. Laverne McGuinness has been appointed Chief Operations Officer of the HSE.

She is a member of the Board of the Executive, as well as its top management team and was formerly its Director of Integrated Services.

An accountant by profession, Ms. McGuinness joined the HSE at the time of its establishment when she was appointed Director of Shared Services.  She previously worked as Asst. Chief Executive at the former Northern Area Health Board.

Mercy Urgent Care Centre opened

The Mercy Urgent Care Centre at St. Mary’s Health Campus (former St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital), Gurranabraher, Cork has been officially opened by the Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly.

The centre has treated over 8,500 patients since it opened on March 20, 2012. The average turnaround time from registration desk to discharge is currently 65 minutes and the most common injuries seen are hand and ankle. Just over half were self-referrals with the remainder being referred by other services such as general practitioners (GPs).

Dr Gerard McCarthy, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Mr. Peter O’Callaghan, IT Manager Mercy University Hospital, Ms. Sinéad Glennon, HSE South Executive Lead for Re-organisation of Acute Hospital Services, Ms. Noreen O’Sullivan, Assistant Director of Nursing Mercy University Hospital, Mr. Mark Kane Estates Manager HSE South, Ms. Lorraine O’Sullivan Project Manager Mercy University Hospital, Mr. David Murray Finance Manager Mercy University Hospital and Ms. Nuala Coughlan CNM3 Mercy Urgent Care Centre.
Dr Gerard McCarthy, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Mr. Peter O’Callaghan, IT Manager Mercy University Hospital, Ms. Sinéad Glennon, HSE South Executive Lead for Re-organisation of Acute Hospital Services, Ms. Noreen O’Sullivan, Assistant Director of Nursing Mercy University Hospital, Mr. Mark Kane Estates Manager HSE South, Ms. Lorraine O’Sullivan Project Manager Mercy University Hospital, Mr. David Murray Finance Manager Mercy University Hospital and Ms. Nuala Coughlan CNM3 Mercy Urgent Care Centre.

The centre treats patients aged over 10 with minor injuries such as suspected broken bones, minor burns, scalds and cuts requiring stitching.

Open each day from 8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Sunday, the Mercy Urgent Care Centre is led by Dr. Gerry McCarthy, a consultant in emergency medicine and caters for people suffering from minor injuries in Cork city and county. Forming part of the network of emergency services in Cork city and county the centre is under the governance of the Mercy University Hospital (MUH).

It is run by 15 staff including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers and other health care professionals. They treat adults presenting with non–emergency conditions that are unlikely to require hospital admission. Patients are treated quicker than emergency departments and the normal €100 charge applies to people without medical cards and those not referred by their GP or Southdoc.

Minor injuries comprise typically around 40% to 50% and sometimes as high as 70% of patients who present to emergency departments, most of whom present during the day. The Urgent Care Centre has the capacity to treat 10,000 people with minor injuries annually and has helped alleviate waiting times and volumes at CUH and MUH.

Mr. Jim Corbett, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mercy University Hospital said: “The Mercy Urgent Care Centre represents a new departure for Mercy University Hospital. This is the first time that the hospital has undertaken the establishment of a new service in its traditional catchment area in the Northside of Cork city away from its historic campus. The opening of the Mercy Urgent Care Centre provides a re-affirmation of the Mercy ethos to care for the people of Cork in new and innovative ways and we look forward to developing additional new services into the future.

“This new service is fully operational and to date the statistics show that people attending with injuries that are unlikely to require hospital admission are seen quickly and discharged. Those requiring hospital admission have the benefit of the Mercy Urgent Care Centre’s link with the Mercy University Hospital’s 24/7 emergency department and the full range of acute hospital services we offer. The Mercy Urgent Care Centre reaffirms Mercy University Hospital’s pivotal role in the provision of emergency services in the Cork region.

Dr. Gerry McCarthy, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, who is the lead medic responsible for opening the new centre said: “We are delighted that the experience to-date has shown that users of this service have been very pleased with the treatment and rapid turnaround. Experience has also shown people attending the centre with injuries that are unlikely to require hospital admission are avoiding unnecessary attendances at our emergency departments.”

Mr. Pat Healy, Regional Director of Operations, HSE South said “The Mercy Urgent Care Centre is becoming firmly established in the mindset of patients in Cork city and beyond as a top class facility to treat minor injuries swiftly. Great credit is due to all those involved with the Mercy Urgent Care Centre particularly the staff who are the cornerstone on which its positive reputation is building”.

The Mercy Urgent Care Centre is open seven days a week (Monday to Sunday) from 8.00am to 6.00pm. It treats patients aged 10 and over with minor injuries such as suspected broken bones, minor burns, scalds and cuts requiring stitching. Unlike some minor injuries units the centre has facilities to take x-rays and apply plaster casts. It does not treat small children who should be taken to the Emergency Department at the Mercy University Hospital or Cork University Hospital.

New Mater Emergency Department

The new Emergency Department of Dublin’s Mater Hospital, which is part of the €284 million Mater Campus Hospital Development, has been opened.

Accommodation in the new Emergency Department includes:

  • A resuscitation room – the resuscitation capacity of the new department provides an increase in excess of 60 per cent capacity compared to the previous capability, reflecting the increase in the number of patients attending with critical illness and injury.
  • Fifteen new single patient examination and treatment cubicles for patients with complex and urgent medical complaints.
  • A dedicated CT / X-ray suite.
  • An ambulatory care area for management of low impact trauma cases and ambulant patients suffering from less serious medical conditions.
  • Space for liaison personnel (e.g. psychiatric liaison nurse, GP liaison nurse and a social worker).

A 12 bay acute medical assessment unit is accommodated in the acute floor in line with Clinical Care Programmes. Special attention has been paid to the quality of the physical environment for patients, staff and visitors, reflecting contemporary architecture and design. Importance has been placed on the maximisation of natural light into the facility. The design team has adopted an integrated design approach to support a low energy and sustainable design solution. Specific concepts were adopted at the outset of the design process. The work on these concepts within this project is of considerable significance because of the scale of savings in the energy consumption and associated reductions in CO2 emissions and its potential replication in Ireland and elsewhere.

The Mater’s Emergency Department provides a 24-hour emergency service, 365 days a year, and sees in the region of 50,000 patients annually. Approximately 21 per cent of patients attending are admitted to hospital for in-patient treatment.

Phoenix Care Centre opened

The Phoenix Care Centre, the HSE’s new Mental Health Facility at Grangegorman, Dublin  has been officially opened by the Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, T.D. and the Minister of State, Ms. Kathleen Lynch T.D.

This new state of the art facility built at a cost of approx €21m will provide a replacement mental health facility for St. Brendan’s Hospital on the campus of Grangegorman.

It is expected the move of both the staff and patients of St. Brendan’s to the new facility will commence towards the end of the first quarter 2013.

The closure of St. Brendan’s Hospital, the first public psychiatric hospital in Ireland, will end 199 years of continuous provision of care and treatment to those with a mental illness.

This marks a significant milestone as it is not only an end of an era for St. Brendan’s but it is the first major building project to be completed as part of the overall Grangegorman re-development project.

The date chosen for the official opening coincided with the day the first patient was admitted to St. Brendan’s Hospital on 28th February, 1814.

The new 54 bed purpose built facility, which includes a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, will provide patients with their own single bedrooms and en-suite facilities, therapy and rehabilitation spaces, enhanced with courtyard settings and a light filled environment to maximise the recovery journey for patients.

Investment needed in preventive eye care

The Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) has welcomed the findings of a new report released by the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) describing the health, social and economic burdens of vision loss on a global society that is ageing rapidly. The report calls for increased public education and awareness programs, improved public policies and greater integration of preventive eye health interventions into public health systems.

The IFA report, titled ” The High Cost of Low Vision: The Evidence on Ageing and the Loss of Sight,” highlights that vision loss is no longer an inevitable part of the ageing process, as people can now age with strong, healthy vision, given 21st-century innovations in diagnosis, biomedicine, nutrition, technology and preventive care.

Speaking in relation to the new report findings, Siobhan Kelly, CEO of the ICO commented; “This report reinforces the positive message to the public that over half of the causes of sight loss are preventable with early diagnosis and treatment. With our ageing population, it is imperative that investment is made in preventive eye health care if we are to avoid an unnecessary over burdening and future dependency on our health care services.

Breast cancer diagnosed in 832 women

Eight hundred and thirty two women were diagnosed with breast cancer, through BreastCheck in 2011, representing 6.6 cancers per 1,000 women screened, according to the National Breast Screening Programme 2011-2012 report.

Free mammograms were provided to 125,329 women aged 50-64.The overall acceptance of invitation to screening was 72.2 per cent, in excess of the programme target of 70 per cent. Of the 125,329 women screened, 5,242 were re-called for assessment. For 37,429 women it was their first BreastCheck mammogram and 87,900 women had previously had at least one BreastCheck mammogram nationally.

Welcoming the publication of the report, Dr. Susan O’Reilly, Director of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), said: “We were delighted that during 2011, a challenging year, we screened over 4,500 more women than the previous year and again surpassed our target uptake of 70 per cent.

“The programme performed strongly against most commitments in the BreastCheck Women’s Charter during this time of sustained resource shortages, thanks to staff dedication and innovation. While BreastCheck aims to offer a woman her first mammogram within two years of becoming known to the programme and her subsequent mammograms every two years, this does not always happen, however we are pleased that 94 per cent of women were re-invited for their next mammogram within 28 months.”

In Ireland over 2,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Where women were diagnosed with a breast cancer following a BreastCheck mammogram, Dr. Ann O’Doherty, Lead Clinical Director, BreastCheck said: “A significant improvement has been made in terms of the percentage of women with cancer offered hospital admission within three weeks of diagnosis, which is just outside of the standard of 90 per cent, a significant improvement on last year and we are grateful for the ongoing collaboration with host hospitals to develop a service response to this issue.”

Since BreastCheck began screening in February 2000 to end 2011, the programme has provided 835,598 mammograms to 371,208 women and detected 5,484 breast cancers.

What’s in a name?

HIQA has published for consultation a draft national standard on how to collect accurate information on patients and healthcare clients.

Professor Jane Grimson, Director of Health Information with HIQA, said: “Currently there is no standardised or agreed guidance on the collection of demographic data. There are real risks to patient safety and welfare because there is a lack of consistency in how people are identified across our health and social care system. For example, there can be significant variations in how names are recorded leading to the risk of misidentification and putting patients at risk.”

“Having the right information recorded that correctly identifies an individual is essential as it is key to ensuring that each person receives the right care at the right time. This information is also vital for health and social care professionals so that they can make the right decisions about your care, while at the same time ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of your information.”

“There are two essential elements to ensuring correct identification of individuals: A unique number and an associated standard set of information, such as name, date of birth, and gender,” Professor Grimson said. “The forthcoming Health Information Bill is expected to introduce legislation to enable the introduction of the unique number and the document we are launching for consultation today sets out what that standard set of information should be.”

The lack of a national demographic dataset has resulted in each health and social care provider designing its own rules for the data items it wishes to collect on each individual. This results in varying approaches to the data items collected and the formats of same, with each data item having the possibility for many permutations and combinations.

For example, the name McGrath can be collected as McGrat, Mc Grath, Macgrath and so forth, leading to a potential for duplication and/or misidentification. It is therefore crucial to have a single national standard for collection of such important demographic data in order to ensure standardised, accurate identification of each individual.

The benefits for people are safer, better care for patients from having accurate, complete information available when it is needed; the removal of the need to provide demographic details again and again on each visit to the health or social care service provider and reduced time wasting as the information will only be collected once.

The benefits for GPs will include enabling the collection of more accurate and consistent demographic data and improved reliability of information; it will assist in more complete patient identification, therefore preventing duplication or misidentification errors, and less duplication of testing/prescribing and will allow information to be exchanged between information systems, therefore reducing administrative tasks.

Hospitals will also benefit from having more complete and accurate information on which to base potentially life-critical clinical decisions; reductions in significant levels of duplication of administrative effort, less wasting of patients’ time and resources and hence greater efficiencies, and more accountability and improved communications.

“Having information that is complete and accurate about each person will reduce duplication in medical records, appointments, testing and prescribing. This results in time-saving for the patient and administration and cost savings for the system,” Professor Grimson said.

Health service managers can submit comments by completing the online consultation feedback form or alternatively downloading and completing the consultation feedback form, both accessible from www.hiqa.ie. The closing date for receipt of comments is 5pm on Friday 12 April 2013.

Referral thresholds for surgical procedures

Draft recommended referral thresholds for a number of surgical procedures have been published for consultation by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

The draft reports are on varicose vein surgery, tonsillectomy, grommet insertion and adenoidectomy, and cataract surgery. This is the first phase of a series of health technology assessments (HTAs) of scheduled surgical procedures being undertaken by HIQA at the request of the HSE.

These HTAs evaluate the potential impact of introducing clinical referral or treatment thresholds for such procedures within the publicly funded healthcare system.

HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment, Dr. Máirin Ryan said, “The purpose of these assessments is to ensure that the patients most in need of surgery receive the required treatment as quickly as possible. For scheduled surgical procedures, it is vital that the right patients are referred for treatment at the right time, potentially releasing capacity and resources without causing harm or reducing benefit.”

“The reports provide evidence-based advice on potential referral or treatment thresholds for procedures where effectiveness may be limited for some patients unless undertaken within strict clinical criteria and we are interested in receiving feedback on them.”

“The need and demand for healthcare services continues to increase and given Ireland’s changing demographics, demand is likely to grow in the foreseeable future. As a result, pressure on national waiting lists continues to grow despite increases in activity levels. Providing increased clarity around referral or treatment thresholds for general practitioners and patients should minimise, where possible, referral of patients who do not proceed to surgery.”

HIQA convened a multidisciplinary Expert Advisory Group to oversee the process of the rapid health technology assessments and to provide access to expert advice and information as required. The completed evaluation will be submitted to the HSE and to the Minister for Health.

The consultation on these draft recommended referral thresholds for certain scheduled surgeries will run until 13 March 2013. The reports, along with details on how to take part in the consultation, are available from www.hiqa.ie.

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board Members

Dr. Fergal Lynch, Deputy Secretary, Department of Health, has been appointed to chair the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

The other members of the Board are Ms. Bairbre Nic Aongusa, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health, Ms. Fionnuala Duffy, Acute Hospitals Policy Unit, Department of Health, Mr. Charlie Hardy, Acute Hospitals Policy Unit, Department of Health, Mr. Jim Curran, Head of Estates, HSE and Mr. Gerry O’Dwyer, Regional Director of Operations, DML.

Under the terms of the National Paediatric Development Board (Establishment) Order 2007, the term of office for Board members is five years. However the above appointments are interim appointments and expected to be for a period of up to six months.