Underlying issues of concern hinder COVID response

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While the Irish hospital system adapted swiftly to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, reoccurring underlying issues of concern relating to non-compliance with national standards were evident, according to a HIQA report.

It said these issues included poor physical infrastructure, capacity issues and workforce challenges, which often hindered these very significant efforts.

Throughout 2020, HIQA focused its healthcare monitoring resources on known areas of risk, with a particular focus on the management of COVID-19 across public acute hospitals, and rehabilitation and community inpatient services. These areas included infection prevention and control, governance and risk management, and medication safety. HIQA also continued to advance its newer role in regulating medical exposure to ionising radiation.

HIQA’s monitoring and regulatory activity in 2020 continued to identify that good governance and leadership was the first line of defence when providing safe, high-quality and reliable healthcare, particularly in response to the crisis situation posed by the global pandemic.

“While HIQA has seen progress and improvement in achieving compliance with standards across various areas monitored, themany challenges since the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 has put extreme pressure on every service. HIQA has noticed that despite an increase in both temporary and longer-term investment in services in response to the pandemic, some healthcare services continue to be proportionately less resourced than others. In many hospitals, ongoing challenges posed by poor physical infrastructure and constrained service capacity continued to be identified by HIQA. These issues have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.