Press Release

Statement by Minister for Health on the HSE August Performance Report

The August HSE Performance Report again shows increased activity levels and highlights the challenges facing the health service for the rest of 2015, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said.

Scheduled inpatient admissions and outpatient attendances were once again ahead of target in August, and more patients have had an operation or procedure or have been seen in clinics than were planned for at the start of the year.

The proportion of all ED attendances who were discharged or admitted within six or nine hours of registration has increased slightly on the year to July. And while the August figure for delayed discharges was 577, a slight increase on July, the latest figures from 20 October show delayed discharges at 542, currently at their lowest point for many years.

This means that since January 2015, 265 acute hospital beds are now freed up for the acutely unwell, and also that more elderly or frail patients have been placed in facilities that are better positioned to cater for their particular health and personal care needs. The number of bed days lost through delayed discharge has fallen by 32% since January. In the face of rising demand, the extra staff and resources that the Government made available this year is having an effect.

However, despite the increased activity and better performance, we are acutely aware of the challenges we face. For example, the August PR points to continued issues with long waiting times for scheduled or elective procedures, and financial penalties have been identified for those Hospital Groups who have the most patients waiting in excess of 18 months. This is on top of the €51 million allocated to hospitals to tackle waiting times.

The scale of the challenge was acknowledged as part of the Budget for next year where a sizeable portion of the almost €900 million allocated for health in 2016 will be required to address the ever-growing demand for health services.

Other positives in the August Performance Report are a continuing reduction in the waiting list for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – the total waiting list is down around 27% since April 2015 and since June the numbers waiting at almost every time band have decreased.  For example, there were 459 waiting more than 12 months at the end of April. That is down to 241 at the end of August.

In terms of finance, most divisions will be at or close to break-even by the end of the year. The end of the recruitment moratorium has allowed the HSE to make progress in reducing its dependence on agency staff, and the total spend on hospital agency costs is likely to be €25 million less than the 2014 spend. The absence rate (reported monthly in arrears) is the lowest for July on record at 3.98%.

The compliance rate with the European Working Time Directive for a maximum 24 hour shift for NCHDs is at 96% and compliance with an average 48 hour week is unchanged at 74%.

Another positive development is meeting the 2015 target set for the provision of day supports and services for young people with disabilities who have continuing support needs. All but 47 of 1,340 school leavers and rehabilitative (lifeskills) training graduates have had their placements confirmed, and there is active engagement with the 47 remaining young adults and their families.

The Breastcheck and Bowelscreen screening programmes are ahead of target.  Diabetic RetinaScreen and Cervical Check are behind target.  In relation to CervicalScreen, while numbers are  6.2% behind the estimated figure to the end of August, coverage has increased to 78.4% and the number of new invites turning up for screening is within expected parameters.

Download a copy of the HSE Performance Reports here.