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Award-winning HSE surgical theatre programme extended nationally

 Award-winning HSE surgical theatre programme extended nationally



“Working on this programme has been an immense privilege. It has personally allowed me to witness the remarkable transformation achieved by empowering our staff across 10 hospitals and 56 operating rooms. Their skill in identifying and driving improvements is exceptional,” according to Professor Mark Corrigan, Clinical Lead, HSE South/South West Hospitals Group. Prof Corrigan was speaking as the HSE confirmed that the Transforming Theatre Programme – designed to improve access to surgical care for patients – will be rolled out to more hospitals following the successful pilot.

Overseen by Prof Corrigan and Grace Reidy, Transforming Theatre Programme Lead, the 18-month pilot at South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG) focused on improving patient flow through the operating theatre. In the first six months of 2023, an additional 1,775 patients were treated, compared with the same period in 2022. This resulted in the generation of more theatre hours across the hospital group.

“One of our aims was to improve patient flow through the operating theatre and we did this by providing a structured, quality improvement methodology to achieve tangible improvements,” according to Professor Deborah McNamara, Clinical Lead, HSE National Clinical Programme for Surgery. “The programme took a multidisciplinary approach, helping to engage nursing, anaesthesiology and surgical staff in operating theatre departments to identify and address the barriers to being more efficient.”

Grace Reidy added that “the true reward of everyone’s collective efforts at every level is reflected in the increased number of patients who have already benefited and will continue to benefit from the improvements driven by our staff every day. The commitment demonstrated by everyone involved – surgeons, anaesthetists, nursing staff and managers – has been extraordinary.”

Using a data-driven approach, the programme identifies opportunities to improve how surgical theatres are used. This ensures theatres are operating as efficiently as possible, and procedures are carried out in the most appropriate setting. This frees up theatre time so that more patients can be seen. 


The project was recently awarded the European Innovation Award 2023 by the European Association of Hospital Managers, along with the HSE Excellence Award for Innovation in Service Delivery.  

Based on their success to date, the programme has now been extended nationally as the National Perioperative Patient Pathway Enhancement Programme (NPPPEP). It will be rolled out across all hospital groups, coordinated by the HSE Strategic Programmes Office. The programme is currently being rolled out in Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and Saolta University Healthcare Group.

Welcoming the development, Deirdre McNamara, Director of Strategic Programmes, HSE, said that “the National Perioperative Patient Pathway Enhancement Programme will enable a more efficient and effective use of operating theatre resources. It supports our commitment to improving the patient experience and health outcomes by reducing waiting lists and ensuring more timely access to services.”