A NEW senior manager is to be appointed to help address governance issues at Letterkenny University Hospital.
The move follows a series of workshops facilitated by consultancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) earlier this year held between Saolta management and hospital staff. They were held in response to a damning report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) which found weaknesses in oversight arrangements and governance structures at the hospital.
Following the workshops an action plan was drawn up which the new senior manager will have responsibility for delivering on.
Saolta CEO, Tony Canavan said recruitment is underway and the post is expected to be filled before Christmas.
Mr Canavan said the new senior manager will essentially have “a foot in two camps” and will work with both the Saolta Health Care Group and Letterkenny University Hospital on implementing the action plan. He said this will be done in “a systematic way” to make sure that they continuously improve the services that are delivered at the hospital.
“We have already advertised for that post and the interviews are taking place very shortly,” he said.
Our hope would be to have someone in post well before Christmas and keep the momentum going with that process.
“It is important that within Letterkenny University Hospital there is clarity about the governance arrangements and similarly that there is clarity about the governance between the hospital and the Saolta group so we all know who is responsible for what, who is taking on the responsibility of various services being provided and that we are supportive of eachother in that.”
HIQA’s review was carried out following incidents of delayed diagnosis of endometrial cancer which led to the publication of the Price report in August 2020. This report found women who suffered delayed cancer diagnosis were wrongly triaged and not booked in for follow up appointments in some cases.
Following HIQA’s findings Saolta vowed to bring in an external team to address the failings. The plan initially was to bring in a team from the NHS in Scotland however it later emerged that Ernst & Young would be providing assistance.
Mr Canavan said the EY workshops were very successful with great engagement from both within and outside the hospital.
“It was a very successful process in that sense but what we really need to do now is to start implementing all of the actions that were arising out of those workshops and that is where the appointment of the senior manager comes in,” he said.
“As part of the process we have established a clear purpose for the hospital, a vision for the hospital and by clarifying the governance arrangements I think that will also help. This is about us working together to make the hospital better.”
In an effort to improve gynaecology services at the hospital a Clinical Director of Gynaecology was appointed earlier this year – retired consultant from the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, Dr Ronan Gleeson.
Mr Canavan said Dr Gleeson brings a wealth of experience as well as an external perspective.
Numerous reports on the historic failings within the hospital’s gynaecology services have been published including a Saolta commissioned audit in June 2020 which looked at incidents of delayed diagnosis of endometrial cancer between 2010 and 2019.
It found that nearly three in every ten women diagnosed with endometrial cancer in LUH over that period faced some form of delay and nearly one in every five women had a delay with a potentially significant consequence.
It is expected Dr Gleeson will work within the gynae ward at the hospital for a period of around six months to drive forward improvements.
“We have implemented significant improvements in the services for example we reduced our waiting lists very significantly in both outpatient and inpatient waiting lists for gynae procedures,” said Mr Canavan.
“We have also improved our processes within the hospital to ensure that women are seen within the appropriate time frames and the appointment of Ronan to this role is to help drive further improvement within the service but also to bed down improvements that have already been made.”