Good hospital care, but lengthy ED waiting times remain a problem

Findings of the 2019 National Inpatient Experience Survey show some improvements on last year, with patients reporting more positive experiences of discharge or transfer procedures.  Maureen Browne reports.

Paul Reid
Paul Reid

A spokesperson for HIQA, which carried out the survey said questions on dignity, respect and privacy scored highly, and the majority of people gave a very positive rating of the cleanliness of rooms or wards. In addition, most people said that they trusted and had confidence in hospital staff.

“Nonetheless, survey participants pointed to a number of areas where the HSE could improve. Significantly, 70% of people said that they were not admitted to a ward within the HSE’s target waiting time of six hours, with 331 people (4%) waiting 48 hours or more before being admitted. Long waiting times have been linked with negative health outcomes and pose a risk to patient safety.

“Furthermore, many people said that there was not enough time to discuss their treatment with medical staff, and felt that they were not fully involved in decisions about their care or their discharge from hospital.”

Responding to the survey findings, Rachel Flynn, HIQA Director of the National Care Experience Programme, said, “Although the majority of patients reported positively on their time in hospital, a large number of patients did not. Significantly, women and younger people tended to report less positive experiences than men and people over the age of 50, as did patients of larger hospitals.

“While discharge planning has improved, there is still more to do, with many patients saying that they did not receive enough information on their condition, their medication or how to care for themselves at home.”

Paul Reid, HSE CEO, said: “I would like to thank our patients, their carers and families for taking the time to complete the survey and for sharing their experiences of hospital care with us. It is important that we listen to and learn from our patients so that we can continue to improve patient care.

“I also wish to acknowledge the work of our hospital staff, who have listened to and are responding to the feedback from previous surveys, and are implementing quality improvement plans in their hospitals.”

The 2019 National Inpatient Experience Survey report, together with 39 reports for each participating hospital and the HSE’s quality improvement plans, can be found at www.yourexperience.ie

The annual National Inpatient Experience Survey asks patients about their experiences of hospital care, covering the patient journey from admission to discharge. With 40 participating hospitals and over 12,000 participants in 2019, it is the largest survey of its kind in Ireland.

The aim of the survey, which is in its third year, is to find out from patients what is working well in our health service, and where improvements are necessary. The HSE can then responds to the survey findings by developing local and national initiatives to improve the quality of care provided to patients.

To be eligible to participate in the survey, patients must have:

  • Spent a minimum of 24 hours in hospital,
  • Be discharged in May 2019,
  • Be aged 16 years or older, and
  • Have a postal address in the Republic of Ireland.

Eligible patients received the survey by post a few weeks after their discharge. The survey could be completed either online or on paper.

The National Inpatient Experience Survey is part of the National Care Experience Programme — a joint initiative by HIQA, the HSE and the Department of Health.

The name of the survey was updated this year to ‘National Inpatient Experience Survey’ to better capture the nature of the survey.

The National Care Experience Programme also includes the new National Maternity Experience Survey, which will take place for the first time in spring 2020.