Press Release

Reform works – More on the way

‘New targets for improvement – New changes for the better – Reilly

The Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has today (Wednesday, 25th January 2012) formally set new targets for the Special Delivery Unit which will see further improvements for the health services.

The Minister set out the new targets at a national forum in Dublin of key stakeholders from the HSE and the acute hospital sector.

The new targets are: –

  • No one should wait longer than 9 months for elective treatment in hospitals (a reduction from 12 months)
  • No one should be longer than 9 hours on a trolley BUT 95% of people should be no longer than 6 hours.

Both of these targets are to be met by the 31st of December this year or earlier.

Since its establishment last June (leading to its full operation in September of 2011) the Special Delivery Unit has worked intensively on the ground with hospitals around the country. The result has been a significant reduction in the numbers of people on trolleys and the effective achievement of a target aimed at elective treatment waiting lists.

While for much of 2011 the numbers of people on trolleys was 30% higher than the year before, by the end of last year the numbers were 27% below. The improvements have been achieved against the backdrop of a reduction in funding of €1 billion for the health services in 2011. “To make these improvements against that level of funding reduction in a health service is almost unheard of” said Minister Reilly but he confirmed that there will be no let up in reducing the numbers even further

The Special Delivery Unit data, which involves a detailed comparison over the last 4 years, confirms that while we benefited from a mild recent winter and the absence of any significant flu outbreak, the scale of the improvements are clearly related to the SDU initiatives.

Minister Reilly also welcomed the fact that all of the nation’s hospitals (with the exception of Galway*) successfully treated all persons waiting for elective treatments for a period of 12 months or over. The Minister said that “while the year ahead will be very challenging” he expected hospitals now to meet the new maximum target of a 9 months wait.

Changes for the better

Minister Reilly has also announced 4 major changes to the organisation of the health services aimed at securing further real improvements on behalf of patients. They are: –

  • Hospitals to be organised in groups
  • The Clinical Programmes will move to the Department of Health
  • The National Cancer Control Programme will move to the Department
  • New Programme Management Office will be set up in the Department

The principles applying to the recent changes to hospital management structures in the west of Ireland will be rolled out nationally. Hospitals will operate in groups with Group Chief Executives. The new Group Chief Executive will be able to concentrate on organising services in an optimum way across a number of hospitals.

The Clinical Programmes – led by Dr Barry White – which is spearheading clinical leadership across the health services, will be located in the Department of Health.

The programmes work in close harmony with the Special Delivery Unit in improving performance across the system.

The National Cancer Control Programme, which has seen significant improvements in cancer outcomes will also be located in the Department of Health.

A new Programme Management Office will be established in the Department of Health to ensure the implementation of the wide-ranging process of reform to be implemented.

* Two hospitals involved Merlin Park and Galway University Hospital.