Press Release

Department of Health publishes first annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System

The Department of Health today, Thursday 5 March 2015, published the first annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS). The publication of this report is in keeping with the commitment from the Minister for Health in 2014 to the public reporting of information on the quality and safety of health care in Ireland. It is also about promoting a culture of openness and transparency, and improving accountability within the health sector. Such public reporting of information on performance will help drive improvements in the quality of care being delivered in the Irish health service.

“This annual report aims to provide information on the quality and safety of health care services that can be easily understood and used by patients, members of the public, policy makers, and service providers, to assist them in making informed decisions about their own health care and about health care services in Ireland” said Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.

“Patients have a right to know the type of information contained in this report. Ultimately it will help to improve services and patient outcomes and it will, I hope, commence a public discussion on these important issues. Reports like this empower patients and service users to make informed decisions about their health care, help health care providers to improve their performance through benchmarking with other services, and they facilitate system-wide quality improvement in health care by informing national policies. This report will help to ensure that a high level of care is made available to the greatest extent possible.”

“Top performing organisations constantly examine and measure the quality of their services and products in order to continuously improve and the health service should be no different. The Department will be working closely with the HSE over the coming year and beyond, through the service planning process, to ensure that a culture of continuous improvement becomes embedded across the health sector in Ireland,” continued Dr Holohan.

“I want to point out that there is no such thing as perfect data but the indicators presented in this report signal to us that certain services require further analysis and examination in order to identify if a problem exists. One can draw on the analogy of a smoke alarm going off. Further investigation may reveal a faulty smoke alarm or an actual fire.  We will work closely with the HSE and Hospital Groups to ensure the early identification and speedy rectification of any deficiencies in health services,” concluded Dr Holohan.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said: “I welcome the publication of the first NHQRS annual report. I have set improving patient outcomes and patient safety as one of my priorities for 2015 and beyond. I am a strong believer in transparency and open data. As they say, if you don’t measure it, you cannot improve it and without regular measurement and reporting you cannot know if your policies and reforms are actually making a positive difference.”

Ends  

Notes for Editors

Background to the NHQRS
It is internationally accepted that for health services to provide high quality safe care they need to measure and monitor the quality of that care. They need to learn from good quality care and improve the quality if it falls below the expectations of patients, the public, policy makers, and the service providers themselves.

To drive improvements in the quality and safety of health care many countries have put in place systems for measuring, monitoring and publicly reporting on the performance of their health services. It is recognised that in health care, as in other arenas, it is difficult to improve what cannot, or is not, measured. The importance of measuring and comparing performance in delivering quality health care outcomes between countries has also been recognised and facilitated by the establishment of international quality reporting systems, for example the OECD Health Care Quality Indicators.

Such systems in other countries allow for the measuring, monitoring and public reporting on the quality of health care at regional, national and international level. They empower patients and service users to make informed decisions about their health care, help health care providers to improve their performance through benchmarking with other services, and they facilitate system-wide quality improvement in health care by informing national policies.

In Ireland large amounts of health data are collected through several information systems such as the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry System (HIPE), the National Cancer Registry of Ireland, and the Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting (CIDR). These information sources are used in various ways to measure, monitor and report on a number of health care related activities and outcomes. Indicators derived from these different information systems are used by the HSE through the service plan to monitor their performance on the quality of clinical care. However, these indicators have not previously been collated in a single report to provide an overall picture of the quality of health care in Ireland with the key aim of informing patients and their families.

The Department of Health carried out an assessment of the feasibility of one of the largest health care information resources in Ireland, Hospital Inpatient Enquiry (HIPE), as a source for deriving quality indicators. This led to the publication of “Health Care Quality Indicators in the Irish Health System: Examining the Potential of Hospital Discharge Data using the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry System” in February 2014. The report found that HIPE was a feasible source to derive quality indicators and it could be used in the future to monitor the quality of health care in Ireland.

At the time of publication of the above named report, the Minister for Health announced the establishment of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS) for Ireland.

The Minister for Health, with the establishment of the NHQRS, committed to public reporting of information on the quality and safety of health care in Ireland. This is based on a commitment to openness, transparency, improving accountability within the health system and on an understanding that such public reporting of information on performance will help drive improvements in the quality of the care being delivered in the Irish health services.

This reporting system will publicly report indicators that reflect on the quality and safety of health care across the Irish health system and, wherever possible, will be aligned with evidence-based international practice and linked to international norms, e.g. OECD Health Care Quality Indicators.

National Healthcare Quality Reporting System First Annual Report