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Minister for Health publishes seventh report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System Report 2021/2022

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has today welcomed the publication of the seventh report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System at the 2022 National Patient Safety Office Conference. 

The National Healthcare Quality Reporting System report gives an overview of quality in our health service over time and against international standards. This year’s report is unique as it includes data for 2020 and 2021 capturing, for the first time, data on the quality of care provided in our health system during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Despite the unprecedented interruption to much normal healthcare and the challenges presented during this time, the report highlights a number of positive achievements in the health service over these two years. This includes the ongoing reduction in mortality rates for stroke, increased uptake in influenza vaccination for those age 65 years and older and the majority of people reporting a positive overall experience in hospital.

It also highlights areas for further examination and a continued focus, for example, benzodiazepine medicine usage in the over 65’s continues to be higher than internationally reported averages.

The report, for the first time, includes a dedicated chapter on women’s health which highlights positive improvements in cancer survival for women while highlighting the differences between genders in the rates of hospitalisation for asthma and reported experience of care in hospital.


Minister Donnelly said: “I am pleased to announce the publication of this year’s National Healthcare Quality Reporting System report. This publicly available data on the quality of care provided in our health system is a key component in achieving the Sláintecare vision of delivering a modern and responsive service that offers the right care, in the right place, at the right time.


“This year’s report reflects the quality of care provided through much of the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights areas of our health system which demonstrated remarkable resilience during this challenging time and areas which showed more notable changes. While it is timely and important that we recognise and reflect upon these changes, further cycles of National Healthcare Quality Reporting System considered along with wider health information data sets, will be necessary to draw conclusions about the longer-term impact of the pandemic on the quality of our healthcare services.”


“The National Healthcare Quality Reporting System forms part of the expanding data evidence base to support decision making in health. This information enables us to better understand the areas of healthcare that are performing well and areas that require continued focus and positive actions to improve.”


“It is important that we all collectively use this information to help inform decisions about how we design and reform our health services to meet the changing needs of our society into the future."

Chief Nursing Officer, Rachel Kenna stated: “I welcome the publication of this seventh National Healthcare Quality Reporting System. The robust data presented in this report is an important part of the quality improvement cycle which allows our healthcare system to reflect on progress made and understand areas for improvement.” 


“A particular focus of this year’s report is the quality of healthcare experienced through the lens of women’s health. This reflects the ongoing commitment of the Department to put women’s experiences of healthcare at the heart of health policy. This understanding is key to shaping and improving how we deliver care to women in Ireland.”


Chief Medical Officer, Professor Breda Smyth added: “This year’s National Healthcare Quality Reporting System report provides an important snapshot of the quality of healthcare services during a time of unprecedented challenge. From a public health perspective, I am delighted to see the significant increase in flu vaccination uptake among people aged 65 years and older. This is testament to the co-ordinated and responsive approach by our healthcare system to vaccination and increased public awareness on the benefits of vaccination.” 


“The report also highlights that the flu vaccination uptake amongst healthcare workers was at its highest ever during the 2020/2021 flu season, however, this rate was not sustained for the latest flu season. Vaccination is a critical part of the response in dealing with flu each winter. The HSE’s flu vaccination programme is now underway, and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to get the flu vaccine to do so.”


The National Healthcare Quality Reporting System Report is published on . The information provided in this report should be reviewed and examined by those tasked with the planning and delivery of healthcare and/or the development of health policy locally, regionally and nationally. This information is important to ensure safe quality healthcare in Ireland through a process of systematic, continuous quality improvement. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the quality of healthcare will continue to be monitored in future cycles of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System report.





National Healthcare Quality Reporting System - Background

The National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS) is the Irish health indicator framework. An indicator is a measurement or value of an item and often used with the prefix performance, quality or health and used to provide comparable information and to track progress and performance over time. Since 2014 the NHQRS has produced an annual report that is published on the Department of Health website


The NHQRS Annual Report 2021/2022 is the 7th NHQRS report. It presents data on 43 quality indicators across five domains and includes two thematic chapters providing a COVID-19 and women’s health lens on NHQRS indicators. The NHQRS aims to provide a mechanism through which data or information about the quality of Ireland’s healthcare structures, processes and outcomes can be made publicly available and compared against acceptable standards or best practice.

The NHQRS and its governance structure is led by the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer and developed by the National Patient Safety Office (NPSO). Development of the report is supported by the Statistics and Analytics Unit, Department of Health.


In 2016, a multi-agency committee was re-constituted to:

  • Provide oversight and advice on the strategic direction of the NHQRS to agree the selected indicators in line with international trends and health policy in Ireland
  • Agree definitions and metadata for the indicators and
  • Prepare and present an annual report to the Minister for Health.

Committee members facilitate communication between their own organisations in relation to the NHQRS processes and the annual report. A technical group supports the committee by providing expertise and experience in measuring and monitoring of healthcare using performance measures or indicators.


National Healthcare Quality Reporting System Report

The publication of the NHQRS report increases transparency in our healthcare system for the public and patient and also acts as a stimulus for improvements by health service providers through the identification of variation in practice and outcomes.


In addition to the increased transparency in our healthcare system for the public and patient it also acts as a stimulus for improvements by health service providers through the identification of variation in practice and outcomes. The appropriate response to any reported differences in indicators is for service providers to further examine and to explain the positive and negative findings. This will necessitate more in-depth analysis and evaluation and will require follow up actions as appropriate to be taken.


This report is designed to be used by healthcare service providers and policy makers to identify trends in healthcare quality and patient safety.


National Patient Safety Office Conference 2022

The National Patient Safety Office (NPSO) in the Department of Health is hosting its conference on Tuesday 11th October in the Printworks, Dublin Castle following a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic. This year's conference is a one day, in-person event. This year’s theme will be “Working Together for Patient Safety”. The aim is that the conference will look beyond COVID-19 and highlight how collaboration and people are drivers of patient safety.


The keynote and international speakers will cover Safety II (an approach to proactive management of patient safety issues), Psychological Safety (a relatively new areas that has come to prominence during the pandemic) and Using Patient Outcome Data to Drive Patient Safety and Value in Healthcare.