Radical roadmap strategy set to transform hospital healthcare

By Mary Dennehy

TALLAGHT University Hospital has through its new Strategy 2019 – 2024 laid out a clear, collaborative and connected roadmap with the potential to make serious inroads into how healthcare is delivered which will include four new theatres and 22 beds/recovery bay.

This week, Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) launched a new corporate strategy called People Caring for People to Live Better Lives, a five year blueprint for patient-focused services – which also recognises the people providing the care.

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Chairman of the TUH Hospital Board Liam Dowdall, Chief Executive of TUH Lucy Nugent; Ritchie Reilly of Tallaght Hospital Action Group and Professor of Surgery at Trinity College Dublin and Consultant Surgeon at TUH Kevin Conlon at the launch of the new five year hospital strategy which took place in the Innovation Hub at TUH

The strategy consists of six priorities – Access, Integrated Care, Infrastructure, Digital Enablement, Research and Innovation, and People.

Speaking with The Echo, TUH CEO Lucy Nugent, a former nurse who moved to Tallaght as Chief Operations Officer in 2014 before becoming Deputy CEO and then CEO, said: “The six priorities are all inter-related. However, the over-arching priority is access.

“It doesn’t matter how good we are if people can’t access our services.”

An aspect of the strategy that is welcome, is its simplicity – and the ideas, processes and projects that have stemmed from the hospital working with community partners, health organisations, local GPs and mental health services.

“Simple but impactful things can happen when we have a conversation”, Ms Nugent told The Echo.

The strategy builds itself from grassroots level, with a focus on preventative initiatives rather than curative – wellness rather than illness.

The development of an Ageing Well Centre across from the TUH campus in Belgard Square West, is an example of this shift in focus, and also puts support in place for Tallaght’s older person population, which is predicted to grow by 322 per cent by 2036.

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The Ageing Well Centre aims to promote independent living, improve quality of life, prevent hospital admission and shorten lengths of stay.

TUH estimates that, alongside providing better care to older patients, the centre will also avoid the need for 40 additional in-patient beds through admission avoidance and earlier supported discharge over the next five years.

In recent years, TUH has taken significant steps out into the community, with the strategy building on the delivery of care and social care services within an accessible community setting.

This approach can improve access to services, an example of which is the offsite day surgery unit due to open in the second quarter of 2020.

This unit will have four theatres and 22 beds/recovery bays for people scheduled to have elective day surgery, which will be located at Tallaght Cross.

According to Ms Nugent, this unit aims to reduce the 18-month waiting list for elective surgery to three months within the first 18 months of opening.

“Day cases won’t be impacted by what’s going on in the hospital,” Ms Nugent said.

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This week, Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) launched a new corporate strategy called People Caring for People to Live Better Lives

“It’s about separating day-case elective surgery from unscheduled care.”

The off-site day surgery unit is part of a number of infrastructure projects planned for by the hospital.

Bed capacity at Tallaght has always been a challenge, with the number of new housing developments currently planned and proposed with the catchment area on hospital management's radar.

According to figures, TUH’s catchment population will grow by 163 per cent over the next 16 years.

The strategy provides for the delivery of 100 beds within the next five years, including a new 72-bed block, which is at feasibility stage, and the development of 12 ICU beds.

Six additional dementia-friendly beds are also included in the infrastructure plan, along with a primary care radiology service within the community.

This service will improve radiology access, ensuring patients are seen sooner for X-rays, scans and CTs.

It will also support the development of GP access to diagnostic capacity outside of the hospital, supporting an integrated care model.

“The patient is paramount . . . and this is about re-orientating healthcare from the patient perspective,” Ms Nugent said.

“We’ve have put too much effort into developing the strategy not to deliver it, it’s our roadmap.

“We also have a commitment to our staff, who are key to delivering this strategy.

“Tallaght is a great place to work and we have been lucky in that we have been able to attract staff.”

Acknowledging the challenging funding backdrop, Ms Nugent added: “We are making six very clear and measurable commitments to improve patient access and to address ED wait times, as well as waiting lists in respect of inpatient, day case, outpatient, endoscopy and diagnostics.

“We will achieve this by improving patient flow processes, introducing new innovations in models of care, making targeted capacity investments and increasing, and better, use of technology to manage care more effectively.”

The strategy was officially launched in Tallaght University Hospital on Monday by Minister Katherine Zappone.

Read the full strategy at www.tuh.ie.

In January, The Echo will start a series on the different projects, initiatives and plans contained within the strategy.

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