The chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum is to meet the new CEO of University Hospital Galway to discuss what he terms the “ongoing performance related difficulties” at the west’s biggest hospital.
Top of Cllr Padraig Conneely’s priority list will be the fact that one in five children requiring medical or surgical procedures at the city hospital are forced to wait for more than a year before receiving treatment.
According to the latest statistics from the HSE - its monthly HealthStat report - more than 100 children were on a waiting list for procedures for more than 12 months while half of the children referred for elective medical and surgical procedures had been waiting for more than six months.
The waiting times for children at UHG greatly exceed the health authority’s national target which stipulates that they receive the required intervention within three months of seeking the procedure, according to the former mayor.
Cllr Conneely described these latest figures as “shocking” and stressed that early intervention was known to be of paramount importance in relation to children’s health.
“It is particularly vital that the required treatment is provided to children at the earliest time possible, as certain conditions can worsen rapidly and affect a child’s long-term development and health,” he said.
“It is clear from the latest HealthStat report that resources are not being adequately prioritised to allow the level of medical and surgical activity required to address the backlog of children who require treatment at present.”
Slamming the HSE for what he described as “an incredibly short-sighted and damaging strategy that is potentially harmful to children’s development” he stated it is ultimately more costly because conditions that are allowed to worsen will place an additional strain on the system in years to come.
UHG was recently awarded a red-light rating from the HealthStat report [the HSE league table which rates hospitals’ performances] indicating that it was “dissatisfactory” and “in need of urgent attention”.
The report also showed that waiting times in the hospital’s emergency department had increased slightly and one in five patients attending there were forced to wait for more than 24 hours before receiving treatment.
The percentage of staff hours lost due to absenteeism at UHG was again an issue of concern in the study. It was almost double the HSE target of 3.5 per cent and was among a number of categories that attracted the red-light rating.
Cllr Conneely said when he meets the newly appointed chief executive of the hospital, Bill Maher, he will emphasise that “a degree of flexibility” will be required in Galway regarding the HSE moratorium on recruitment.
“I am encouraged that the Minister for Health has recently indicated that this is an option that he is willing to consider,” he added.