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Calls for patients to give feedback on their experience in Irish hospitals

Overcrowding in Irish hospitals increased in the first three months of 2017.

Image: Shutterstock/Pressmaster

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Simon Harris is giving patients a chance to talk about their experience in Irish hospitals to the government for the first time.

The national patient experience survey is asking adult patients who have been discharged after 24 hours in any of the 40 participating hospitals last May to take part before 26 July.

It covers all aspects of the patients’ stay in hospital, including admission and discharge, the ward environment, interaction with staff, and care and treatment.

Harris said the survey would “raise awareness of any issues that may need to be addressed and ensure that they can quickly be identified”.

It will be a vital tool for policy makers, regulators and the health service itself, in ensuring that we continue to improve the quality and safety of our hospitals.

The Department of Health, the HSE and Hiqa are working together to look into the results of the survey.

Overcrowding

The call for patients to fill out the survey comes as the latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) confirm overcrowding in Irish hospitals increased in the first three months of the year.

In total, 51,321 people admitted for care were on trolleys in A&E departments or wards from January to June of this year.

This is 6% higher than the 2016 figures, and around 700 people higher than the previous high reached in 2015. INMO figures begin in 2006.

The INMO figures claim that “severe nursing staff shortages” in recent weeks had a negative impact on patient care and created “intolerable working conditions for staff” in emergency departments and on wards.

The Minister for Health has one of the toughest roles in government and Harris has faced a number of challenges since taking on the position.

Last weekend, he had to ask the HSE to defer a plan that would ration postoperative supports for breast cancer survivors.

Harris said: “Yesterday I heard of planned changes to supports for patients with breast cancer. This was the first I heard of these changes.

“When I became aware of the proposed changes, I intervened and their introduction is now deferred.”

He has proposed a number of changes to the health system during his time as Minister.

In May, Harris said he hopes to see an opt-out organ donation system in place in Ireland next year.

On Friday, he said he wants to see a referendum on the Eighth Amendment take place in summer 2018, while voicing his own personal support for the Repeal movement.

Patients can fill out the survey online at www.patientexperience.ie.

Read: These are the most overcrowded hospitals in the country

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