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Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny, T.D., at the official opening of the Phase 2 Development at Bon Secours, Galway

 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here today in the Bon Secours, Galway to officially open the new Phase 2 Development of the Hospital. I am glad to say that the new development greatly enhances the patient experience at the Hospital and will assist in providing healthcare to the highest standard to this Community, to the people of this County and surrounding Counties for the future.

I would like to convey my sincere thanks to Gerry Burke and the staff of the hospital for the invitation to mark this important milestone in relation to the development. It is a tribute to Gerry and his team that they had the courage and foresight to successfully pursue this expansion, in the face of the particularly adverse local and global financial conditions that have surrounded us in the past few years. This development will not only significantly enhance the provision of hospital services but will provide an important economic boost to the west.

I am aware that The Bon Secours Healthcare Group is the largest independent Healthcare provider in Ireland, employing more than 2,500 professional and support staff.

As well as Galway, there is also a large hospital in Dublin which treats approximately 30,000 patients annually. Two further hospitals located in Cork and Tralee are in the process of completing a major development programme over the next three years. The developments will focus on upgrading Cancer, Radiotherapy, Orthopaedic, Cardiac Care facilities in Cork and a range of diagnostic and patient facilities in Tralee.

Bon Secours also operates a Care of the Elderly facility in Cork and the hospital there has, for the second time, been awarded the top Occupational Safety Award for Medical Services in Ireland after winning the Medical Services Award at the All Ireland Safety Awards 2011.

The public health services and the Bon Secours have a long relationship. The Bon Secours Hospital Galway has been treating National Treatment Purchase Fund patients since 2002. The National Treatment Purchase Fund was established in order to tackle the considerable amounts of time that people were waiting for medical treatment. For a number of years the National Treatment Purchase Fund was very successful in reducing these numbers. However, in recent times the trend has been moving upwards. This indicates that the causes of waiting lists are embedded throughout the hospital system and need to be dealt with in a systematic and comprehensive way.

This Government has an ambitious programme of health service reforms which includes institutional reforms which will make health care providers truly accountable for delivering patient centred care. In particular, the Government is determined to address the issues which cause unacceptable delays in patients receiving treatment in our hospitals. There is a need to embed performance management in the system to sustain shorter waiting times.

In this regard, my colleague, the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly established the Special Delivery Unit (SDU), which will work to unblock access to acute services by dramatically improving the flow of patients through the system, and by streamlining waiting lists. The SDU is working closely with its partner agencies - mainly the HSE and the NTPF.

In the short term the focus of the SDU will be:
- to support the HSE to manage the activity throughout the winter in a more efficient way, ensuring improved trolley wait performance over last year;
- support the delivery of a 12 months maximum waiting time for surgery;
- establish the key relationships and management processes between the strategic functions in the HSE
and the NTPF within the existing governance arrangements;
- build capacity and capability to create and sustain improvements;
- develop the detailed solutions to the operational problems of the health economy; and
- lay the foundations for a new accountability framework.

This process will be aligned to existing initiatives, including the clinical programmes. The clinical programmes are being developed by the HSE to improve and standardise patient care throughout the system and are being led by Clinical Directors.

As a priority the SDU is working with hospitals to tackle unacceptably long waiting times in emergency departments. The aim is to unblock access to acute services by improving the flow of patients through the system and to address excessive waiting times for admission to hospital. In the course of its work the SDU has visited emergency departments and conducted a data analysis. It has identified a number of hospitals providing unscheduled care that require support. The SDU will work closely with the hospitals to ensure that long waits on trolleys will be a thing of the past.

My Government is keenly aware of the stress that waiting for treatment causes to the citizens of our country and in response to this the Minister for Health, has instructed public hospitals to ensure that, by the end of 2011, they have no patients waiting more than 12 months for treatment. The National Treatment Purchase Fund has been working very closely with the HSE and the hospitals to achieve this target.

We are living through a unique and challenging time, however I have witnessed the willingness of the medical profession to take on these challenges and work with the Government in its objective, which is to provide a high quality health care system.

In the meantime, on this important occasion for the Bon Secours here in Galway, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all the staff the very best in their work.
I have great pleasure now in formally opening the Phase 2 Development and I am sure it will serve the people of the Galway region for many years to come.

Thank you.

ENDS.

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