Press Release

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD publishes the third annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS)

Welcome progress on diabetes, heart failure, stroke, cancer screening & MRSA
Continued concern on HPV & flu vaccine uptake

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD today welcomed the publication of the third annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS).

This system is focussed on reporting a balanced set of healthcare data that gives an overview of how our health service is performing compared to international health systems. It is intended that the NHQRS will evolve over time, both to include new indicators and to reflect changing priorities within our health services.

Minister Harris said: “The publication of this report represents an important milestone as we strive to improve the quality of our healthcare system. Central to this process of improvement is the need for accurate, timely information and this report should be used by the HSE, our hospitals and Community Healthcare Organisations to build on progress to date and to examine and meaningfully address those concerns which were raised by the report.”

The Minister added “It is very encouraging to see the improvements in many areas. For example, hospitalisation rates that have decreased substantially for diabetes and heart failure. During the last 10 years, deaths following ischaemic stroke and heart attack have decreased by 28% and 40% respectively. Cancer screening and treatment services compare favourably against other OECD countries and rates of MRSA have fallen by 66% since 2006.”

The report also highlights areas for further examination and improvement. Uptake of the HPV vaccine, which offers protection from cervical cancer, has declined by 17% in just two years. Just one third of eligible healthcare workers availed of the ‘flu vaccine this year. Variation in hospitalisation rates between individual hospitals for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and asthma remain. Hospitalisation rates for patients with COPD also remain very high.

Dr Kathleen Mac Lellan, Director, National Patient Safety Office, added “The collection of data is not an end point, it is a key part of the cyclical quality improvement process. The appropriate response to reported differences and variability is for the service providers to examine the differences and the underlying reasons for them. Follow up actions as appropriate should be taken by the responsible heath service provider.”

Brigid Doherty, CEO of Patient Focus and member of the NHQRS committee said “I urge health service providers to review and use the report’s findings to influence change and to improve the quality and safety of the service they deliver to patients. I welcome the new infographic available this year as it shows much of the important information at a glance and will support the dissemination of key findings”.

National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS) Annual Report 2017


Notes for Editors

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 2017 there are a total of 27 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 publically available and compared against acceptable standards or best practice.

The NHQRS and its governance structure is led by the Chief Medical Officer and is based in the National Patient Safety Office (NPSO) in the Department for Health. In 2016, a multi-agency committee was re-established 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.

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.