UHG’s poor performance in hospital league tables is ‘embarrassing’, says health forum chief

The chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum has slammed University Hospital Galway’s poor rating in the HSE’s latest league tables as “embarrassing”.

Former mayor Cllr Padraig Conneely says much of the blame for the unsatisfactory “red” rating in the HealthStat system - which measures hospitals’ performances against other hospitals with a view to learning from the top scorers - is1 due to the health authority’s 18 month delay in appointing a manager for UHG.

He claims the regional hospital “fell apart” after its long time manager Brigid Howley retired and the facility was left without a boss for a year and a half.

Cllr Conneely’s said the hospital’s consistently poor score over four years - it was rated the worst performing hospital in the country - was “disappointing”.

Addressing a meeting of the health forum at Merlin Park Hospital recently, the Fine Gael representative said the facility’s A&E unit - which regularly hits the headlines for the high number of patients lying on trolleys as they await beds - was “the cause of this”.

“It’s disappointing that the hospital [in the city] where I’m from is now officially the worst performing hospital in the country. It is at the bottom of the pile. Its waiting lists and outpatient waiting lists must be the longest in the country.

“Something is wrong, the management of the hospital is not getting it right, the situation has not improved over the years. This has been a major issue since Brigid Howley left, the place fell apart. Under Dr O’Keeffe, the new manager, it has not improved.”

John Hennessy, the HSE West’s regional director of operations, said people needed to be careful when applying labels.

Describing the west’s biggest hospital as the worst performing was doing a great disservice to its staff and the world class standards of care provided there, he stated.

He explained that the HealthStat system measures access and resource management such as budget and staff controls. It was important to convey the message that world class standards of health care were conducted there, he said.

Across the west, the picture in relation to the HealthStat ratings varies, he outlined. Letterkenny General Hospital got a “green” rating, for example. He added that quite a number of improvements were achieved in the west in terms of acess and budget control.

There was a “turnaround” plan in place at UHG to address the access issue, he said. He predicted Galway will be “out of the red zone” and reiterated that people should be careful labelling hospitals as the worst or best.

Cllr Conneely said the HealthStat report was in black and white as far as he was concerned or more accurately red, green and orange in terms of grading levels. He outlined UHG had come up in the red category and he had been hearing abut it being the worst performing hospital for four years.

“It doesn’t give me any pleasure to say this. It’s embarrassing to have Galway as the worst performing hospital.”

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