Shock au­dit finds fig­ures are wrong

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - By Ni­amh Grif­fin

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.

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