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Patient flow programme ‘misperception’

The ex-head of the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) expressed frustration that a HSE patient flow improvement programme in University Hospital Galway (UHG) was expected to solve emergency department overcrowding, the Medical Independent can reveal.

The National Patient Flow Improvement Programme (NPFIP) was rolled out in UHG and University Hospital Limerick in 2016 to test the ‘scientific management’ of patient flow.

In a letter to then National Director, Acute Operations, Mr Liam Woods, and National Director, Clinical Strategy and Programmes, Dr Áine Carroll, on 20 March 2018, Ms Grace Rothwell addressed a “misperception” about the programme.

“There are significant flow issues prevalent across the whole of the Republic of Ireland health and care system,” she stated. “This is a huge national issue. We know that some believe that the investment in this programme, especially in Galway, should produce immediate results.”

“The misperception around reduction of trolley waits underlines some of the key challenges with any programme of this sort – understanding the true baseline in the hospitals and the realistic understanding of how much time and resource it requires to effect improvement on any significant scale.”

Ms Rothwell continued: “If the expectation of the HSE is to have a national programme to eliminate trolley waits and make measurable improvements across the Hospital Groups, we would suggest a different approach. This will involve support from Government and adequate resourcing to enable change. We would be more than happy to discuss what is needed, and take a partnership approach with you to make this a reality.”

According to the HSE, the project, supported by the consultancy firm GE Healthcare Finnamore, finished at the end of June. A final evaluation report on the programme is currently being produced.

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