Patients at University Hospital Galway can look forward to shorter waiting times for ward admissions and expanded menu choices in the coming year, as the west’s biggest hospital focuses on the main recommendations of an inpatient study.
The findings of the National Inpatient Experience Survey, which was undertaken in Irish public hospitals in May, were published this week. Some 922 patients who were treated in Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin Park] took part in the study which is in its third year.
Two areas were identified as needing improvement at UHG. While most patients said they were treated with respect and dignity at its emergency department, the lowest scoring question related to waiting times before admission to a ward. The survey also showed that patients’ ratings for hospital food were below the national average with just 63 per cent of patients rating the food as “good” or “very good”.
Speaking in the wake of the publication of the report, Chris Kane, the general manager of Galway University Hospitals, said improving waiting times for patients remains one of its highest priorities. The hospital was also committed to addressing the satisfaction rating regarding its food. It has expanded its menu choices in partnership with patients and added the calorific count.
She stated that the findings of the survey provide important insights into patients’ perspectives of the treatment they received in hospitals and what improvements in services are needed.
“It also helps us see how the patient voice has helped us change and improve hospital care since 2017 when the first survey was carried out. We are very pleased that the majority of participants from Galway University Hospitals reported positive experiences in hospital: 85% of participants said they had ‘good’ or ‘very good’ overall experiences, compared with 84% nationally.”
Patients reported positive experiences in a number of areas: they were given enough time to discuss their care and treatment with their doctor, they received easily understood answers to their questions, and they felt their families had sufficient opportunities to speak to a doctor.
“In addition, the patient rating for their experience of being discharged or transferred from hospital was significantly higher than in 2018,” Ms Kane outlined. “This reflected the work we undertook in the past year to improve the discharge process including the development of a patient booklet to provide information for patients.
“We will be using the results of this survey to help us prioritise quality improvements for the coming year. I would like to thank all the patients who took part in the survey and the staff who encouraged and facilitated it.”
Tony Canavan, the CEO of Saolta Group CEO, said the 2019 survey results demonstrate that more than 80 per cent of its patients had positive experiences at its hospitals in the Saolta Group. “This is something that we are very proud of. Since these surveys began a huge amount of work has taken place to improve our services for the benefit of our patients. We remain committed to working in partnership with our patients – listening to them and making things better where needed.”
Meanwhile, the lack of written information for patients leaving hospital was singled out by patients as one area which required improvement at Portiuncula University Hospital.
The Ballinasloe hospital scored below the national average in this area in the National Inpatient Experience Survey. Its general manager, James Keane, said the facility currently working on a range of patient information leaflets on various medical conditions that can be given to patients. “We are going to ensure that before going home, every patient will be given a discharge booklet which outlines what they should do after they leave hospital.”
He said the surveys allow patients to express their views and this has helped change and improve hospital care since 2017 when the first survey was carried out. “We are very pleased that the majority of participants from Portiuncula University Hospital reported positive experiences in hospital: 86% of participants said they had ‘good’ or ‘very good’ overall experiences, compared with 84% nationally.
“There were a number of areas related to participants’ overall experience where the hospital scored above-average ratings. For example, patients said that the wards and bathrooms were very clean. Also, patients also gave positive ratings of the hospital food. This reflected the work we carried out based on feedback from patients about their experience of hospital food and nutrition at the hospital. We reassessed the choice of food for patients and now have a wider range of options available for the evening meal.”