Press Release

Statement by Minister Varadkar on the HSE’s Performance Report for February

The second HSE Performance Report of 2015 provides data to the end of February. It measures performance under the headings of Quality, Access, Finance and HR.

Speaking following publication by the HSE, Minister Varadkar said: ‘In our acute hospitals, the report indicates that elective inpatient admissions were 4.5% ahead of target in February compared to 5% below target in January. As a result expected activity is now just 0.6% below target at the end of February.  This shows that hospitals are starting to catch up on surgery and procedures delayed due to overcrowding in January. This is encouraging’.

“Outpatient attendances were 3.2% ahead of target in February compared to a 2.4% lower than expected attendance in January. Overall, Outpatient attendances to end February are 0.3% ahead of target.  However, even though more patients are getting appointments and being seen than for the same period last year, it’s not enough to keep up with demand and has not yet impacted on waiting times which is a cause for concern.

“While it is difficult to draw conclusions as to the year-end position based on data from January and February, due to a number of factors, including the exceptionally high level of delayed discharges during these two months, the new measures recommended by the ED Taskforce and agreed by Government, along with the ongoing reform of practices and processes in hospitals, are beginning to show results.

“The number of delayed discharges at the end of February had fallen to 705 from a peak last autumn of 835. The initiative announced in early April to address the delays in patients being able to access Fair Deal will have a positive impact on the situation and the Fair Deal waiting time from the date of approval is now down to four weeks.

“As we know the level of delayed discharges has the knock-on effect of maintaining cost pressures on social care and acute services. Agency costs and overtime continue to be very high, which remains a cause for concern. On the positive side, the Report outlines that we continue to meet our targets for specialist palliative care provided within seven days of referral, for those in inpatient beds and for people in their own homes. We are also largely on target for the number of Home Care Packages and for the number of home help hours provided.

“The HSE has put in place specific measures to address waiting lists more efficiently in collaboration with acute hospitals, the Special Delivery Unit and the National Treatment Purchase Fund. These include adherence to the National Waiting List Protocol 2014, along with relevant HSE National Clinical Programme guidelines, and prioritising day-of-surgery admission where clinically appropriate.

“The maximum waiting time breaches for urgent colonoscopies was at 114 at the end of February but all of these patients had their procedure by 14th April. Similarly treatment referrals for cancer patients, with the exception of prostate cancer, are on target. 12,293 women attended Breastcheck in February. The aim is to screen 140,000 women throughout 2015 and 23,882 have been screened in the first two months of the year. 26,324 women were screened for cervical cancer during the month, 9.9% ahead of the year to date target which is good.

“The February Performance Report demonstrates the significant challenge facing the health service as a result of the changing demographics in Ireland. Over the next few years, the population aged 65 and over will increase by approximately 20,000 per year placing increased pressure on our acute hospital, community, and social care sectors. We will continue to work to develop safe quality services for patients in line with these changing demographics, while at the same time looking for ways to reduce costs.”