The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is the independent authority established to drive high-quality and safe care for people using health and social care services in Ireland. HIQA operates under the Health Act 2007, which sets out the functions which the Authority is to carry out.
The Act provides HIQA with the power to set standards for the healthcare services delivered by the HSE, and then to undertake monitoring programmes to assess compliance with these standards. In this regard, HIQA published the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare in 2012; they represent the overarching standard which public health services are expected to meet. Flowing from these themes, HIQA have also developed standards for particular services, e.g. National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections in acute healthcare services. HIQA has in turn conducted a thematic inspection programme against these standards since 2012. In addition, HIQA has also undertaken thematic inspection programmes in relation to nutrition and hydration in acute hospitals, and in relation to medication safety.
HIQA typically undertakes both announced and unannounced inspection of healthcare facilities in order to ascertain the degree of adherence to expected standards. A report of the inspection visit will subsequently be published on HIQA’s website. In cases where remedial action is required, depending on the severity of the risk identified, HIQA may draw the matter to the attention of hospital management during the inspection and request an immediate response, or in less severe cases, will raise the issue in writing. In either case, an appropriate management response would be expected.
HIQA wrote to hospital management following its 7th of November 2018 inspection of Cork University Hospital. HIQA received a response which outlined key actions implemented and planned by the hospital to mitigate the risks identified. In line with Section 8 of the Health Act 2007, HIQA will continue to monitor Cork University Hospital against the National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated inspection in acute health services, to include compliance with CPE guidance produced by the CPE Expert Group.
In relation to the key actions implemented and planned by the hospital to mitigate the risks identified, as this is an operational issue, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly as soon as possible.