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NCCP considered withholding reimbursement due to delays in receiving data

The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) contemplated withholding funding from some hospitals due to delays in receiving data on key performance indicators (KIPs) for cancer, the Medical Independent (MI) can reveal.

At a senior management meeting in December 2018, the minutes of which were seen by MI through Freedom of Information law, it was noted that required KPI data had not been received from the Mercy University Hospital, Cork; St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin; or Cavan General Hospital.

The minutes stated that Director of the NCCP Dr Jerome Coffey was to “send out a follow-up letter to those hospitals in relation to withdrawing reimbursement (from January) if no data forthcoming”.

However, speaking to this newspaper, Dr Coffey said the NCCP has not withdrawn reimbursement from these hospitals and that the data is now being received.

“It’s a question of if we write again and don’t get the data, what do we do next? That was a consideration, but we haven’t had to use that lever [withdrawing reimbursement],” according to Dr Coffey.

He said that often delays in receiving data are due to a data manager leaving and that once the post has been filled, the data required is submitted.

Dr Coffey said KPI data is vital for the NCCP in order to ascertain the resource requirements for the various areas across oncology.

“The question really is, how are things working, how busy are they, what do they need in the service plan cycle for next year? Unless there is some sort of data coming in, it is hard to know exactly what their requirements are,” Dr Coffey stated.

During the December meeting, National Clinical Lead for Medical Oncology Prof Maccon Keane expressed concerns in relation to the medical oncology KPIs in the report.

“It is a multi-factorial problem including staffing levels in nursing/capacity/pharmacy/management. Prioritisation is important and there are options to increase space/shifts,” according to the minutes.

Chief Pharmacist at the NCCP Ms Patricia Heckmann and Prof Keane agreed to draft a letter to hospitals in relation to medical oncology KPIs and data.

“Correspondence should also go to acute hospitals and the issue to be considered for inclusion on NCCP risk register,” according to the minutes.

At a senior management meeting in January, the minutes revealed that the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, University Hospital Waterford and Galway University Hospital demonstrated “significant pressures on the system” in relation to medical oncology KPIs.

“The data gaps have been resolved,” according to the minutes.

“Hospitals have been requested to review their clinic performance and advise on an improvement plan.”

The January minutes also stated that “adherence to the urgent breast KPI target continues to improve”.

“Due to personnel changes, Letterkenny has had challenges with its data,” stated the minutes.

An online portal went live last year, which allows hospitals to compare their data against national figures.

The portal is also designed to allow the NCCP to receive and process data in a faster and more streamlined manner.

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