Press Release

Minister for Health publishes fifth report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System

  • stroke mortality rates at their lowest level ever
  • heart failure and asthma hospitalisation rates below international averages
  • benzodiazepine use in over 65s is higher than known international averages

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today (Monday) welcomed the publication of the fifth annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS), which gives an overview of quality in our health service.

The report highlights a number of improvements in the health service made over the past year including a significant reduction in mortality rates for stroke, increased screening rates for CPE and important achievements including increased uptake in bowel cancer screening this past year.

It also shows room for improvement including in the area of vaccination. Uptake of the influenza vaccine for those over 65 years and healthcare workers is still not meeting the national targets.

There are also some worrying trends on the issue of Benzodiazepine medicine as figures for the first time show usage in people over 65 years is high as compared to internationally reported averages.

Speaking as the report was published, Minister Harris said: “It is important that we use this report to highlight the areas of healthcare that are performing well. We also must review areas where we can perform better, examine possible causes and take follow up actions.

“For example, there are improvements to be made in our immunisation rates. Vaccine hesitancy is not unique to Ireland. It is a global issue and has been identified by the World Health Organisation as one of the ten leading threats to global health in 2019.

“The figures in the report show there are varying trends across different counties and shows there can be no room for complacency in this area.”

He continued: “Public reporting of this nature becomes more important as we implement the Sláintecare vision, which aims to reform Ireland’s health and social care service to create a modern, responsive service that offers the right care, in the right place, at the right time. The patient voice is also highlighted in this report and provides valuable insights for our health service. I would encourage people to continue to give their opinion of their hospital stay through the National Patient Experience Survey which is ongoing right now. The NHQRS report is one way we can measure the impact of this reform. I am pleased to see this report’s publication by my Department.”

Secretary General of the Department of Health, Jim Breslin, said “I welcome this fifth annual report which is coordinated and produced through this Department. Information on the performance of our health service is important to informing decisions that service providers and policy makers make about our health service. It is important that we look at this report to assess both where our health service is performing well and where there is room for improvement. The report is published on our website to give patients and citizens clear information on the performance of their healthcare system, including how we compare internationally.”

Director of the National Patient Safety Office, Marita Kinsella, said: “The 2019 report highlights improvements in a number of areas. For example, antibiotic consumption in the community has decreased for the last three years running which is important because antimicrobial resistance is an international challenge. Over 90% of hospital patients report that they feel they are involved in the decision making regarding their care in 2018. Over the last decade, the decline in mortality rates for stroke has continued, due to improved availability of services and quality improvement initiatives.

“Cancer survival rates for breast, lung, cervical and colorectal cancer compare favourably against other OECD countries.”

The information provided in this report should be reviewed and examined by those tasked with the planning and delivery of healthcare and/or the development of health policy locally, regionally and nationally. This information is important to ensure safe quality healthcare in Ireland through a process of systematic, continuous quality improvement.


Notes to the Editor

Read the fifth report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System here. 


The National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS) is the Irish health indicator framework. An indicator is a measurement or value of an item and often used with the prefix performance, quality or health and used to provide comparable information and to track progress and performance over time. Since 2014 the NHQRS has produced an annual report that is published on the Department of Health website. In 2019 there are a total of 38 indicators of performance across five key domains:

The NHQRS aims to provide a mechanism through which data or information about the quality of Ireland’s healthcare structures, processes and outcomes can be made publicly available and compared against acceptable standards or best practice.

The NHQRS and its governance structure is led by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer and developed by the National Patient Safety Office (NPSO). Development of the report is supported by the Statistics and Analytics Unit, Department of Health.

In 2016, a multi-agency committee was re-constituted to:

• provide oversight and advice on the strategic direction of the NHQRS to agree the selected indicators in line with international trends and health policy in Ireland
• to agree definitions and metadata for the indicators and
• to prepare and present an annual report to the Minister for Health.

Committee members facilitate communication between their own organisations in relation to the NHQRS processes and the annual report. A technical group supports the committee by providing expertise and experience in measuring and monitoring of healthcare using performance measures or indicators.

The NHQRS annual report

The publication of an annual report increases transparency in our healthcare system for the public and patient and also acts as a stimulus for improvements by health service providers through the identification of variation in practice and outcomes.

In addition to the increased transparency in our healthcare system for the public and patient it also acts as a stimulus for improvements by health service providers through the identification of variation in practice and outcomes. The appropriate response to any reported differences in indicators is for service providers to further examine and to explain the positive and negative findings. This will necessitate more in-depth analysis and evaluation and will require follow up actions as appropriate to be taken.

This report is designed to be used by healthcare service providers and policy makers to identify trends in healthcare quality and patient safety.