Press Release

Comments by Mr. Brian Lenihan, T.D., at inaugural meeting of the Irish Health Services Accreditation Board

Speaking today at the inaugural meeting of the Irish Health Services Accreditation Board, Minister Brian Lenihan said “The Health Strategy stresses the need to ensure the provision of high quality and safe care at the heart of a modernized Irish health service. Consistent with this commitment, the Minister for Health has given the accreditation project his full support. The introduction of this scheme provides Irish health agencies with an appropriate mechanism with which to objectively assess and measure their performance against an agreed set of standards”.

“The accreditation scheme, with some 56 standards, incorporating 307 criteria in all, will provide comprehensive objective and formal assurances that hospitals and other health care providers are providing a safe, effective and high quality service. The standards will apply to all areas of a hospital, from theatres and laboratories to staff facilities”, Minister Lenihan said.

“Many people deserve thanks for the huge amount of hard work which has gone into developing the accreditation programme. Firstly, I wish to pay tribute to all of the members and staff of the Implementation Steering Group, as well as to the officials of the Department for their contribution to the process.

I would like to say a particular word of thanks to Brian Sweeney. Brian has done wonderful work in chairing the accreditation Steering Group since its inception, and he has kindly agreed to accept his invitation to be Chairperson of the new Board.

John O´Brien, Chief Executive of St. James´s Hospital, has provided invaluable advice and expertise to the Steering Group, and for this work we are grateful.

Thanks are also due to the staff of the major academic teaching hospitals and other participating hospitals, for the work undertaken in preparing for the roll-out of the scheme at their respective hospitals.

I wish to thank the Canadian Council on Health Service Accreditation, whose Executive Director, Elma Heidemann has kindly accepted an invitation to be a member of the Board, (and is here to-day for the first Board meeting). Canada is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the development of health service accreditation. The Canadian Council on Health Service Accreditation, and Elma in particular, have provided invaluable assistance to us helping to design an accreditation scheme for the Irish health service.

The accreditation Steering Group has ensured that international best practice has been applied to developing the standards for the process. The resultant Irish accreditation scheme builds on the strengths of existing accreditation programmes, and is designed to drive an integrated approach to planning and delivery of care. We expect that this integrated approach will be a key factor in guiding decisions on future service developments, as well as being a valuable aid in the decision making process.

The Irish accreditation programme is starting from a position of strength. It is the first accreditation scheme to have received validation of its standards under the aegis of the International Society for Quality in Healthcare.

Already, eleven of the largest hospitals in the country have joined the scheme. This represents strong endorsement of the accreditation scheme and we look forward to the inclusion of further hospitals as the initiative is progressed.

Two hospitals, namely the Beaumont and the Mater Hospitals in Dublin, have already completed the self-assessment and peer-review stages of the accreditation scheme. I am confident that as the process moves out through the system, it will not just highlight areas which require improvement, but that it will also highlight particular strengths in the Irish health system.

To Brian Sweeney, Chairperson, and to each of the members of the Irish Health Services Accreditation Board, may I congratulate you on your appointments, and wish you well in your new office. I look forward to seeing the fruits of the accreditation scheme in making a positive impact on quality in the Irish healthcare services.

In conclusion, I would like to stress that high quality-assurance and safe care is an essential right of all users of our health services, and it is my expectation that the work of the Board will play a vital role in ensuring that this right is protected. I wish the Board every success in progressing this challenging programme during its tenure of office” Minister Lenihan concluded.