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Cork team cut waiting list and win HSE Excellence Award

A project that cut waiting times for patients from up to four years to less than 12 weeks took home the prize in the ‘Improving Patient Care’ category in the recent Health Service Excellence Awards. The Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) Gynaecology Waiting List initiative was designed to tackle the highest gynaecology outpatient waiting list in Ireland in the short term and work towards a sustainable model of service delivery and patient care in the medium term.

Midwives and outpatient staff at CUMH who were celebrating the award win for their waiting list initiative.

A project that cut waiting times for patients from up to four years to less than 12 weeks took home the prize in the ‘Improving Patient Care’ category in the recent Health Service Excellence Awards.

The Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) Gynaecology Waiting List initiative was designed to tackle the highest gynaecology outpatient waiting list in Ireland in the short term and work towards a sustainable model of service delivery and patient care in the medium term.

By the end of 2019, CUMH had significantly reduced its waiting list number by 75% to 1,200. Only five patients still on the list were waiting over one year and 70% of the 1,200 patients were waiting less than 12 weeks.

“In less than three years, CUMH transformed the waiting list from one of the highest to one of the shortest in the country. In April 2017, the gynaecology waiting list in CUMH stood at 4,700, with 1,900 of those patients waiting over 12 months, and some waiting over three years. A long wait causes significant stress for patients and their families due to the impact on their quality of life. It also affects staff knowing that there’s an increased risk of a patient deteriorating while waiting so long,” explained Gráinne O’Connell, Project Manager, UCC Academy

The project aimed to reduce the waiting list to below 1000, with an average 12-week wait time. A new and innovative approach was implemented. Patients were reclassified into eight major diagnostic groups, an online booking system was used, and outreach clinics, additional weekend and evening clinics, gynaecology initiative week

“Nationally the picture showed that at the end of 2019, the CUMH waiting list represented just 4% of patients waiting nationally for outpatient gynaecology services, down from 16% in 2017.  What is notable is that this reduction was achieved against the backdrop of increasing demand for gynaecology services at CUMH and other hospitals across the country and overall increasing trends in gynaecology waiting lists,” said Gráinne.

“This extraordinary result was made possible through the sheer hard work and dedication of the multidisciplinary team at CUMH and the co-operation of patients, along with the support of service suppliers, the South/Southwest Hospital Group leadership team and the National Women & Infants Health Programme.”

The Awards Selection Panel commented that the initiative resulted in a significant reduction in waiting lists and this along with the online booking system for patients, positively impacted on the patient experience.