Meaningless Figures


Just when I think I’ve heard it all, they go and do it again. The HSE has today published performance ratings for 29 of it’s acute public hospitals. All 29 hospitals were given either a green, amber or red rating overall. What a load of balls! These ratings do not reflect clinical care nor do they equate to the misery and suffering experienced by patients countrywide. Instead of focussing resources where they are most needed, at the coalface of our health service, the HSE has instead compiled another meaningless set of figures examining service performance. Is the HSE ever going to prioritise patient care?

There are few who would disagree that the health system in Ireland is in need of radical change. The debate is in where the major problems lie and how they can be remedied. Today I listened to a riveting radio discussion between Fionnuala Duffy, Assistant National Director of Planning and Development for the HSE and Prof. Michael O’Keeffe, a well-respected hospital consultant, who works in both the public and the private sector

Prof. O’ Keeffe made mincemeat of the HSE’s policy of equating our hospitals in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. As he pointed out to the HSE representative, “I work in the system, you don’t”.  And therein lies the core of the problem of the mismanagement of our hospital system.

The HSE’s response?  “There is scope for improvement in efficiency. There are challenges”.

Have a listen to the discussion for yourself. It was hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

(Fast forward 25 mins)

Today with Pat Kenny

9 Responses to Meaningless Figures

  1. JBBC says:

    Thanks for posting the audio clip Steph. Like you I thought O’Keefee was riveting and the points he made were spot on.

  2. Ian says:

    I understand Vincent’s was amber.

    I was in A & E there this morning. One would conclude that it was the aftermath of a major disaster rather than an ordinary Monday morning. There were trolleys everywhere. The poor man I had called to see – who was only discharged from CCU on Friday had collapsed yesterday and was on a waiting list for a bed in the cardiology unit. I would have loved someone from the HSE to have been there this morning, or just about any other time, for that matter.

  3. Baino says:

    Ha! They sound like a load of bloody auditors . . .no idea! Some politician here said that NSW hospitals rated higher than anywhere else in the country . .what he was smoking at the time is unclear!

  4. Grannymar says:


    If you had charge of the wand….. where would you wave it?

  5. Steph says:

    JBBC – I don’t know about you but I felt intensely irritated listening to the PR stuff coming from the HSE spokesperson today. Michael O’Keeffe had it so right when he stated that in the eyes of the HSE “patients have become a nuisance”. He continued “The HSE doesn’t know what’s going on. Talk to patients, talk to consultants, we know what’s going on”. We need the likes of Gerry Robinson (UK) to undertake the task (in the same way that Prof Tom Keane has done for cancer services) of assessing what practical measures need to be taken to get the basics right in our hospitals. At the moment, our hospital services have lost the focus.

    Ian – I couldn’t believe what I was hearing today when the HSE starting talking about hospitals in terms on the colour box they are in! They’ll be telling the patients next that they have to wait until they get a green light to get a bed!

    A&E is just like the Red Cow Roundabout (as stated in the letter in my previous post) – you have to go there in order to eventually get to where you really need to be within the hospital. It’s pure madness.

    Baino – The HSE speak is so hypothetical, it stinks! It continually talks about turning our health service into a series of world class centres but it’s all meaningless as they haven’t got the basics right. Patient care is bottom of the pile.

    Grannymar – I would immediately do away with the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) which is costing 3-4 times the money to treat public patients in private hospitals. Instead I would allocate the money saved to put practical measures in place to improve patient services in the public hospitals. We need to return to a patient-centred model of healthcare to get the focus right.

  6. Ian says:

    It’s now some thirty hours since my friend was taken by ambulance to A & E at Vincent’s. It is twelve hours since the ward manager said he was on the waiting list for a cardiology bed. He has been wheeled from the room he was in out into the corridor where there is constant noise and activity and other trolleys in close proximity. This is his second night in A & E.

  7. Steph says:

    Ian – The carry-on in A&E in this country, is a total disgrace. If your friend isn’t lucky enough to get a bed tomorrow, he will most likely be transferred to a ‘waiting lounge’ adjacent to A&E. This is not done for his comfort, it’s all about making the trolley count numbers look better! 😦

    BTW You’re talking to an expert trolley dolly here…
    (one of the first posts I ever wrote!)

  8. Annb says:

    How about a little civil disobedience here? Lets just refuse to engage in HSE Speak, lets make our feelings known to the HSE that we will no longer tolerate the insult to our intelligence and integrity. Enough with the reports and the meaningless figures, we’re past caring. Just sort it out, and if you can’t sort it, get lost and let someone in who can. If a body such as the HSE was blocking citizens’ access to churches in times of immortal spiritual need, there would be a revolution. Why is our mortal bodily need deemed less important? I still can’t figure out the psychology behind the apathy.

  9. Steph says:

    Ann – Don’t worry. There is a discernible ground swell of discontent in the ranks but my biggest fear would be that it’ll result in a general election rather than a coming together of minds to sort out the mess this country is in.

    The radio discussion yesterday had me cheering on the consultant as it was such a pleasure to witness the HSE being exposed for what it is. What bloody use is a system of amber, green and red boxes when patients are suffering unnecessarily every day of the week? We don’t NEED reports to tell us that there is chaos in our hospitals, we need action from the ground up!

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