Belfast Telegraph

Healthcare survey highlights long waiting times and doctors with no time to talk

Long waiting times in emergency departments and doctors with no time to talk to patients are among a number of concerns raised in a new healthcare survey.

The survey of more than 13,000 people discharged from public acute hospitals across the country found that just 30% of emergency department patients were admitted to a ward within the six-hour target.

Almost 50% of patients said that they could not find a member of staff to talk to about their worries or fears and they needed doctors to have more time to discuss their care and treatment.

Also, 36% of those surveyed said that they were not involved as much as they would have liked to have been in the decisions about their care.

The area identified to be in need of the greatest improvement related to the discharge or transfer of patients.

The survey found that better communication with patients was needed in relation to the side effects of medication, the danger signals to watch out for after discharge or how patients should care for themselves at home.

Rachel Flynn, of the HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) and programme director for the National Patient Experience Survey, said that while the results of the survey show that many patients experienced good care, there was room for improvement in key areas.

"While the majority of patients said that doctors and nurses on the ward always answered questions in a manner that they could understand, almost half of the patients said that they could not always find a member of staff to discuss their concerns with and also said that the doctors and nurses did not have enough time to discuss their care and treatment," said Ms Flynn.

She added: "We must now listen carefully to the voices of patients, the service users, and use these results and those of future annual surveys as the building blocks to drive continuous improvement in Irish healthcare."

The survey's findings were launched on Monday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris.

Carried out in May, the National Patient Experience Survey is the largest single survey of the healthcare system in Ireland. Of the 27,000 patients asked to take part, 51% responded.

It was a joint initiative by the HIQA, HSE and the Department of Health.

The National Patient Experience Survey Programme will use data collected from the survey in a bid to shape future healthcare policy and help improve outcomes for patients.

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