According to published National Data there are record numbers of patients in Ireland on either on Inpatient, Day case or Outpatient waiting lists. A high percentage of these patients are waiting over six months for consultation and or treatment.
Due to a lack of resources and support many hospitals in the country do not regularly validate their waiting lists. The National Inpatient, Day Case, Planned Procedure (IDPP) Waiting List Management Protocol (2017) state that it is compulsory that formal bi-annual hospital validation is carried out on all patients waiting over six months.
In an effort to address this ever-increasing challenge, in mid-June 2018 the Minister for Health Mr Simon Harris requested the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to establish a National Centralised Validation Unit.
Prior to the establishment of the Validation Unit , Alison Green, Process Innovation Director (NTPF) engaged with the Hospital Groups, and in particular with the Group Scheduled Care Leads, to introduce an overview of the project including the process, site participation, recommendations and outcomes. Following this, there was a national staff recruitment drive. Louise O’Hare was appointed as Head of the National Validation Unit. Louise was Hospital Manager in Louth County Hospital (RCSI Hospital Group )for the past four years. She has a nursing background and has extensive experience and expertise in waiting list management and group Validation. Louise and her team commenced work on the project in mid-September 2018.
This unit is in its infancy, but its overall aim is to assist all public hospitals and hospitals groups with large scale administrative validation of outpatient, inpatient and day case waiting lists. The team will work very closely with identified scheduled care leads of the hospital and at group level. There will be an identified validation team member assigned to each hospital group. The team will agree the validation process and programme with the hospital groups prior to commencement. The aim of the validation project is to ensure that:
- All data is reliable accurate and up to date and available for all stakeholders
- Clean waiting lists data will reflect true demand for hospital services
- To improve system efficiencies with better use of administrative time
- Reduce DNA rates (Did Not Attend)
- Improve communication between the patient and the referred hospital during the patients waiting list journey
- Educate patients and public on requirements and benefits of structured validation
- Analyse the validation results and outcomes which will in turn inform process improvement training and developmental needs nationally
- Grow a culture of structured waiting list validation in all hospitals with stakeholders. This will eventually lead to transparency in waiting list figures nationally.