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Earlier this year, MI revealed that SDU staff had proposed the Unit be replaced by a new Acute Hospitals National Service Improvement Team (NSIT). The role of the NSIT would be similar to that of the SDU in supporting performance improvement activities at Hospital Group level and providing intensive support in exceptional circumstances to individual hospitals that were clearly failing to meet their scheduled and unscheduled care demands.
However, the HSE has revealed there are no plans for the Unit’s name to be changed or for any change to its current role.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has expressed his desire to see the role of the Unit strengthened and recruitment of SDU Improvement Leads is currently underway.
Interviews were scheduled for early November and it is anticipated that an Improvement Lead will be assigned to each Hospital Group by year-end to drive process improvements in both scheduled and unscheduled care.
The appointees will also take a lead role in an assigned area and deliver improvement on the performance in that area.
MI previously reported that there were considerable morale issues within the SDU as a result of the failure to appoint key positions, including a new Unit Lead.
At the end of last year, Ms Grace Rothwell was appointed as Head of the SDU. No other appointments have been made in the SDU since Ms Rothwell assumed the role.
More than 535,000 people are currently on public hospital waiting lists for outpatient and inpatient procedures, according to the latest NTPF figures, the highest number ever recorded under the HSE.
The numbers have increased by almost 27,000 in total since last May, when Minister Harris took up post.