Press Release

2014 showed increased demand across health service but some small improvements. Report shows scale of challenge confronting health service

This latest Performance Report confirms that demand increased significantly across the health service throughout 2014, but there were some small improvements, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said today. The Report provides figures for December 2014 as well as an overview of developments throughout the whole of 2014.

“There were some small-scale improvements in the health service last year but this latest Performance Report also shows the scale of the challenge confronting the health service,” Minister Varadkar said.

“The reduction in delayed discharges from 835 to 719 in December shows that the €3 million in extra Fair Deal funding provided in December did have a positive impact. However, even this lower figure was 17% higher than December 2013, which shows the extent of the situation at the end of 2014.

“The early allocation of this Fair Deal funding in December was designed to anticipate the expected winter increase in trolley numbers, and this report confirms that numbers were increasing at the time.

“ED attendances were up 3.1% in December compared to the previous year, while ED admissions were up 1.7%. Since then even more measures have been introduced and around 1,000 additional transitional care beds are being sourced in private nursing homes across the country.

“There was some improvement in waiting times for an occupational therapy assessment, which fell by 4.3% from 8,511 in December 2013 to 8,141 in December 2014.

“Waiting lists were generally longer throughout 2014 but towards the end of the year we began to see some improvements. There was a small reduction in the number of people waiting more than 13 weeks for a routine Gastro-Intestinal Endoscopy in December. The HSE, in partnership with the NPTF, is running a targeted initiative to address patients waiting over 13 weeks for such treatment.

“In 2014, we exceeded our targets for specialist palliative care provided within seven days of referral, for those in inpatient beds and for people in their own homes.  The number of people receiving Home Care Packages at 13,199 was 21% above the 2014 target. We just about met our 2014 target for the number of home help hours provided.

“On ambulances, 4% more calls were received during 2014 compared to 2013, with a 7% increase in life-threatening cardiac or respiratory calls (ECHO) and a 10% increase in other life-threatening calls (DELTA). 66% of ambulances were released and available at hospital emergency departments within 30 minutes, with 95% available within 60 minutes.

“For the whole of 2014, there were 3% more outpatient attendances compared to 2013. 84% of patients waiting on first outpatient appointments received those appointments within the target time of 12 months. The Outpatient Improvement Programme seeks to streamline the referral process, reducing ‘did not attend’ rates and targeting capacity gains for increased new appointments.”