Shock audit finds figures are wrong
A SHOCKING audit of waiting lists produced by six of Ireland’s largest hospitals – including the Mater – has revealed protocols for counting patients are not being followed, and the numbers reported are incorrect.
The audit by the National Treatment Purchase Fund examined how patients are listed at Cork University Hospital and Cork Maternity Hospital, the Mater Hospital, Our Lady’s Children Hospital in Crumlin, St Vincent’s University Hospital and Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.
Patient Advocate Stephan McMahon said: ‘I was actually very surprised at
‘A protocol is a must-do, there is no leeway’
this, they are doing audits which means we can’t trust the lists. ‘A protocol is something which is a “must-do”, there is no leeway. When the NTPF says the protocols are not being adhered to, that is a very serious finding. Now we have to ask are we underestimating the numbers of people on waiting lists?’ He added: ‘I am very frustrated by this, there is more money being spent on health every year and yet the situation for patients is getting worse.’ Carried out by order of the Health Minister Simon Harris – in the wake of the RTÉ Investigates programme Living On The List – the audit is critical of all six hospitals. Auditors found six different booking forms in use at the Mater, none of which conformed to national minimum information requirements. A random sampling of 40 patients found 10 marked ‘urgent’ but waiting more than 12 months for treatment. Four different booking forms were found at the two Cork hospitals and, again, none complied with the standards. Eleven of 40 patients were marked ‘urgent’ but had been waiting more than 12 months.
Auditors found 38 out of 40 admission booking forms had no date stamp at Crumlin, meaning the wait for patients to be added to treatment lists could not be judged. The forms are meant to be filled in duplicate but some showed different information in the copies, new dates or missing personal information.
At St Vincent’s no standard booking form is being used. Auditors found numbers of cataract patients may be overestimated due to doublerecording on form systems. Six of the 40 booking admission forms had no date. At Tallaght, auditors found no date stamp on 29 out of 38 admission booking forms, meaning those patient journeys cannot be accurately tracked.
Twelve of the 40 randomly selected patients were marked ‘urgent’ and had been waiting more than 12 months for treatment. The audit will be carried out in other public hospitals next year.