The first phase of the initiative took place in Galway University Hospital and University Hospital Limerick, which were chosen as the proof-of-concept sites, and came to an end on 31 March.
As part of the next phase, which was due to begin on 1 April, the HSE plans to implement the programme across a Hospital Group, although the details have yet to be finalised.
Despite initial delays as a result of staff pressures and a failure to agree the scope of certain projects, the initiative is understood to have been positively received by staff.
The HSE commissioned external support from GE Healthcare Finnamore (GEHCF) to demonstrate a proof-of-concept for scientific and operations management processes to support improvement in patient flow, together with imparting those techniques to staff. <strong><em>MI</em></strong> previously reported how the HSE had agreed to pay the consultancy firm up to €650,000 annually for its support in rolling-out the programme.
Process management tools such as Kaizen and Lean are central to the Programme.
In an internal HSE document, obtained by <strong><em>MI</em></strong> through a Freedom of Information request, CEO of the Saolta University Health Care Group Mr Maurice Power stated: “Good progress to date supported by GE. The project has been embedded; with good engagement and has taken a strategic and long-term view/actions. Engagement has been key, as has the MDT [multidisciplinary team] approach to all the work. GE are now seen as part of the GUH team.”
Operational Director of Nursing at University Hospital Limerick Ms Bernadette Murphy stated: “It has been a fantastic experience, we have made significant progress since we started.”
A spokesperson for the HSE told <strong><em>MI</em></strong> phase 2 seeks to “spread the skills to a wider national audience”.
“The finer details have as yet to be finalised and agreed but it is intended to focus on a Hospital Group with roll-out to sites within that Group and in turn to increase the provision of flow training and involve staff members from both in and outside of the particular Hospital Group that will be the focus of Phase 2,” according to the spokesperson. Concern had been expressed in the final report of the Irish Hospital Redesign Programme, which has been disbanded, that the current programme could represent “duplication of effort and waste of resources in terms of personnel and time”.