THE Mid-West HSE has accepted that the level of absenteeism at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis is high, despite the implementation of all of its Managing Attendance Policy. These include referrals to occupational health, return-to-work interviews and certification of absence.
It is estimated that up to 15 nurses out of the hospital’s total complement of 133 nursing staff of all grades were out sick at the end of last September.
According to the HSE’s HealthStat Dashboard, Ennis hospital recorded a 12% absenteeism rate for nurses, about 1% of which is uncertified and about 2% is long-term, based on certified and uncertified leave only at the end of last September.
Overall, absenteeism in the hospital was 8% and it was also high for general support (8%) and other patient and client care (11%). This resulted in a red light for this category under the HealthStat performance indicator.
The statistics recorded 24 patients were waiting between 12 to 24 hours in the emergency department and three were waiting over 24 hours. Ennis hospital also got a red light for hospital elective medical and surgical procedures waiting times, with 248 patients waiting six to 12 months and 88 patients waiting over 12 months.
Ultrasound also secured a red light, with routine referrals from GPs to hospital waiting 200 days, while x-ray was well outside the target at 40 days.
Efforts continue daily to foster improvement in all areas of care delivery and Ennis now has state-of-the-art endoscopy facilities and a soon-to-be commissioned inpatient care block, which will be to the highest standards.
Ennis hospital performed very well for GP and consultant to hospital referral times for routine outpatient physiotherapy, with patients seen on average in about 20 days, well below the international target of 70 days.
Patient waiting times for an urgent colonoscopy were also within the international target of 28 days, while most of its elective inpatients were admitted well within the acceptable time limit.
The appropriateness of admission and care scored well, with 54% of patients being provided with a discharge plan and 36% with a discharge date.
The HSE pointed out the Local Emergency Centre (LEC) in Ennis hospital is not a 24-hour service and does not deal with a range of specific conditions, including major trauma. The waiting times are often associated with a range of medical conditions, which have been referred for further investigation.
Ennis hospital, like many other hospitals the HSE stated, has at any one time a number of patients for whom onward care arrangements are emerging more slowly than previously and this affects access to beds from the LEC.
“Against this backdrop, the LEC is performing well in a difficult environment and makes good use of an ‘overflow’ area, where patients are accommodated in beds and not on trolleys. For statistical purposes these patients are still counted under the heading ‘inappropriately located’.
“While the hospital’s absenteeism percentages appear high currently, the amount of ‘uncertified’ sick leave is very low. Where uncertified sick leave is low, the hospital is viewed to have achieved an improved performance in managing attendance, as the majority of sick leave is certified by medical practitioners.
“A recent review by management shows that a number of people are absent with long-term serious illness.
“Against the size of the cohort of 233 whole-time positions, percentages can often create a distorted picture and it is not unusual in relatively small numbers to sometimes come across a situation such as the one in Ennis. This notwithstanding, the issue is receiving maximum attention.
“The assistance of the human resources department has now been sought to assist the hospital in any additional actions required,” the HSE stated.