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Emergency departments under ongoing strain – HIQA overview report

By Reporter - 15th Dec 2023

HIQA has found that emergency departments are under ongoing strain due to a number of factors such as patient flow, bed capacity and staffing deficits.

The findings are in HIQA’s overview report of monitoring and regulation of healthcare services between 2021 and 2023, which has been published today. The report highlights HIQA’s inspection and monitoring activity during a time where the health service was responding to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2022, HIQA introduced a new inspection programme focusing on hospitals and emergency departments throughout the country.

The report also outlines some examples of good practice. Key contributory factors include increased bed capacity, effective and targeted use of the additional beds and staffing, and sustained focus on internal operational management processes. The overview report found that hospitals continue to be challenged with sufficient single-room capacity and suitable infrastructure to support requirements and limit the possible transmission of infection.

Mr Sean Egan, HIQA’s Director of Healthcare, said: “The programme of monitoring against the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare highlights that once patients transition from emergency departments into inpatient beds, their experiences often improve. In addition, in our engagement with patients, there is near universal praise for the work that healthcare staff perform at the frontline.”

This report also explores HIQA’s regulatory function in medical exposure to ionising radiation. HIQA has found that overall compliance findings with core regulations has improved year on year from 2021 to 2023. This demonstrates that service providers are working towards improving compliance with these regulations and shows the value of regulatory scrutiny, according to HIQA.  

Furthermore, the report outlines the preparations by HIQA in relation to proposed new functions under the Health Act including the Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill 2022 and the Patient Safety (Notifiable Incidents and Open Disclosure) Act 2023. In 2022, HIQA also began preparations to take on an intended new regulatory function of monitoring and inspection of International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS).

Mr Egan continued: “HIQA is also working towards promoting our mission and values in new areas, to drive safer and better care as our remit expands. In the coming years, HIQA is committed to delivering a programme of monitoring and regulation of healthcare services which acts to complement this need to adapt within the health services, in the best interest of patients.”

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