- Waiting lists reduced from 6 months to 6 weeks thanks to Galway health services in the community
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD has welcomed the news that a new service, funded by Sláintecare, providing heart failure diagnostics and care in the community, has reduced waiting lists from 6 weeks to six months.
Galway University Hospitals is running the community-based service with Primary Care Centres in Tuam, Gort, Claremorris and Galway City. The service allows patients to receive care closer to home in a Primary Care Centre. GPs can refer their patients with suspected Heart Failure directly to the service for tests and diagnosis, making it easier for patients to access routine care related to their heart condition.
Minister Donnelly said: “Direct access for GPs to diagnostics allows patients to be treated in a community setting, going to hospital only where necessary, meeting the Sláintecare vision of shifting care appropriately, away from a hospital centric model
Patients in Galway are experiencing better health outcomes and a better quality of life - saving themselves hours of travel time, and hundreds of euros in travel expenses now that they can access routine heart check-ups and care closer to home and avoiding a trip to Galway University Hospitals.”
“Galway University Hospitals is running this community-based service with Primary Care Centres in Tuam, Gort, Claremorris and Galway City. GPs can refer their patients with suspected Heart Failure directly to the service for tests and diagnosis. This new model of care is reducing pressure on hospital services such as Outpatient Cardiology (OPD), Emergency Department (ED) and Acute Medical Units (AMU).”
Recent results from the service show that:
- Over 1,000 patients have received diagnostic tests through the service;
- 88% of patients of the service have come through a GP referral;
- 89% of patients received tests within 6 weeks of referral;
- 55% had appointments in 2 weeks or less.
- This is compared to common wait-times of up to 33 weeks for the hospital service.
Minister Donnelly said: “Sláintecare is transforming our health and social care services for both patients and healthcare workers across the country. I am delighted to see that both patients and GPs are delighted with the service with 95% of patients saying they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service and 94% of GPs agreeing or strongly agreeing that the service reduced referral to cardiology outpatients.
“This is a wonderful of example of Sláintecare delivering better outcomes and experiences of our health service for all.”
The service currently operates from five clinics in Tuam, Claremorris, Gort and two in Galway city. These sites are reachable by staff within 45 minutes, thus maximising the number of diagnostic slots available. The service is currently providing direct access for GPs to forty diagnostic slots per week.
The Sláintecare Report and the intended approach, embodied by the “Right Care, Right Place, Right Time” mantra has seen a focus on shifting more care into the communities, closer to patients’ homes.
In 2019, Sláintecare invited all healthcare staff and organisations to submit ideas to access some of a €20m fund for projects that would integrate care across the health service. There was a particular emphasis on initiatives that would support the shift to community-based care and help to reduce and prevent hospital visits. The cardiology department in Galway University Hospitals was successful in its application and received Sláintecare support to commence its Community Cardiac Diagnostics Programme, funding a portable echocardiography machine, of an equivalent standard to the hospital-based machine and ten heart (R-test) monitors. It also covered the salary of a Senior Cardiac Physiologist, who performs and reports the echocardiograms and an administrative post.