UHG appointments made because it did not compare with other hospitals

The HSE’s decision to appoint an additional three-person management team at Galway University Hospitals was taken because the existing management structure did not compare with other Irish teaching hospitals, the health authority’s regional director of operations said this week.

Addressing a meeting of its regional health forum this week John Hennessy said this problem had to be be addressed.

The positions of chief executive with a salary scale of €145,959, chief financial officer (salary scale €94,796 ), and chief operating officer (salary scale €96,211 ) were advertised on May 6. All the posts are for Galway University Hospitals Group.

The meeting was told that following the establishment of the hospital network (across Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin Park], Roscommon and Portiuncula ) and the appointment of a clinical director, Dr David O’Keeffe to the network last June, it was clear that “significant management, financial and operational support” would be required to work with Dr O’Keeffe to address the issues at GUH and Roscommon/Portiuncula.

“A range of options were considered and subsequently a business case for the recruitment of these posts was prepared. The recruitment of these senior management posts is part of an ongoing focus on strengthening operations and improving overall performance across the hospital network.”

Forum chairperson Cllr Padraig Conneely said UHG was continually underperforming in the HSE’s HealthStat league table which rates hospitals’ performances. The Fine Gael councillor - who has consistently slammed the hospital for what he terms it being “bottom of the pile, the worst performing hospital in the country” - said it was falling down in a number of areas, the length of its out-patient waiting lists and the €12 million owed to it by private health insurers, for example.

John Hennessy said he took some issue with the “so called worst hospital in Ireland” title. He explained the HealthStat system measures access and resource management, not quality of care. He said he was concerned that UHG as a centre of excellence was being damaged by labels such as worst hospital, etc. He believed this tag did a disservice to the “excellent clinical and nursing staff and the hundreds and thousands of patients” who go through the hospital.

He said he appreciated there were access problems and financial and resource challenges but the HSE was coming to grips with these. He promised these issues would be “turned around” and the Galway hospital’s reputation would be restored.

Cllr Conneely says the worst hospital label was not “his talk” but the HealthStat results. The findings of its March report again bore out this rating.

“That is the fact of the matter. You have serious issues in terms of access, A&E, outpatients and these are not improving. Finances are not improving. It is a source of embarrassment to me that Galway is in such a bad place.”

Refering to the appointment of additional managers he said he would like to see “outside” people being appointed, “fresh thinking, new pairs of hands”. The appointments are expected to be made in mid-June.

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