Waiting lists for Galway hospitals radically cutSeptember 11, 2012 - 7:30am
Galway’s two public hospitals have radically reduced their waiting lists for inpatient treatment since the start of the year – and management say they have managed to treat more patients with a significantly reduced budget.
Thousands of patients were facing having to wait nine months or more for hospital treatment in UHG and Merlin Park hospitals in January, but their numbers have been reduced to less than one-tenth of that total, with the aim being to have nobody waiting that long.
Management from Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group met with Oireachtas and Regional Health Forum West members from Galway and Roscommon yesterday to provide an update on progress within the Group, which oversees the operation of the two city hospitals as well as Portiuncula in Ballinasloe and Roscommon County Hospital.
The Group’s CEO, Bill Maher, said that they had made “excellent progress” on service priorities set down at the start of the year.
“Our service priorities were to jointly improve patients’ access to the Emergency Departments and to meet the challenging Special Delivery Unit target for inpatient waiting lists which is a nine-month wait time for adults and 20-week wait time for children. I can report that we have made excellent progress on all that we set out to do in the first nine months.”
Tony Canavan, Chief Operating Officer, told the meeting that trolley waits in the Emergency Departments had reduced despite significant increase in admissions – in the city hospitals in June there were on average nine patients waiting to be admitted at 8am (down from an average of 24 in February).
“Specific actions taken in GUH include extending the opening times of the Acute Medical Unit to 24 hours and opening a 32 bed short stay medical unit. We have appointed two new patient co-ordinators (medicine and surgery) and a permanent discharge co-ordinator to ensure that patients get into hospital as quickly as possible.
“We have reviewed the bed usage and assigned beds specifically for medicine (including oncology) and surgery use. Now that we have better information on the flows of patients we are able to plan towards delivering zero 9-hour waits and 95% 6-hour waits in line with national targets. Although we still have some way to go, we have evidence that our approach to date is showing results.”
Mr Canavan added that in January, there were 9,901 people on the inpatient waiting list who would potentially breach the target of waiting longer than nine months if they were not seen by the target date of September 30 – but by Thursday last they had reduced the number waiting to 794 patients and were on course to achieve the SDU target by the end of this month.
“The improvements in the waiting list have been made possible by introducing a range of measures including waiting list validation, improved reporting and focus, more effective use of resources across all of the hospitals in the Group, patient education and engagement as well as increasing theatre capacity by opening previously closed theatres.
“Most importantly it is the effort of the staff in all four hospitals in the Group that is making it possible and I would like to acknowledge the dedication of all staff and their ongoing commitment to meeting the inpatient waiting list target.”
He pointed out that the level of patient activity across the Group compared to last year had increased considerably: inpatient admissions have increased by 9%, day case admissions have increased by 9%, Emergency Department activity has increased by 7% and Outpatient Department activity has increased by 5%.
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