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Revealed: Irish hospitals with highest patient death rates from heart attack and stroke

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Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the publication of the rates do not amount to a league table.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the publication of the rates do not amount to a league table.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the publication of the rates do not amount to a league table.

Hospitals in Tullamore Cavan and Blanchardstown in Dublin have the highest patient death rates from heart attack.

And hospitals in Cavan, Cork and Blanchardstown have the highest death rate from the most common form of stroke.

This is the first time death rates from any conditions per hospital have been published by the Department of Health.

Hospitals with the lowest death rates for heart attack are the Mater in Dublin, Portlaoise and Kerry General.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the publication of the rates do not amount to a league table because it is unclear what the background factors are such as the patient’s overall state of health.

He could not say if those with higher rates, for 2011 to 2013, have lower quality of care – however the figures are indicators which signal the need for more investigation.

“It is like an alarm going off – but it does not mean there is a burglar in the house,” he added.

There is also wide variation in rates of caesarean section with Kilkenny’s maternity unit recording the highest at at 35pc of births compared to 23pc in Wexford and Mullingar.

He said:“This annual report aims to provide information on the quality and safety of health care services that can be easily understood and used by patients, members of the public, policy makers, and service providers, to assist them in making informed decisions about their own health care and about health care services in Ireland.”

“Patients have a right to know the type of information contained in this report. Ultimately it will help to improve services and patient outcomes and it will, I hope, commence a public discussion on these important issues. Reports like this empower patients and service users to make informed decisions about their health care, help health care providers to improve their performance through benchmarking with other services, and they facilitate system-wide quality improvement in health care by informing national policies. This report will help to ensure that a high level of care is made available to the greatest extent possible.”

“Top performing organisations constantly examine and measure the quality of their services and products in order to continuously improve and the health service should be no different. The Department will be working closely with the HSE over the coming year and beyond, through the service planning process, to ensure that a culture of continuous improvement becomes embedded across the health sector in Ireland,” he said.

“I want to point out that there is no such thing as perfect data but the indicators presented in this report signal to us that certain services require further analysis and examination in order to identify if a problem exists. One can draw on the analogy of a smoke alarm going off. Further investigation may reveal a faulty smoke alarm or an actual fire.  We will work closely with the HSE and Hospital Groups to ensure the early identification and speedy rectification of any deficiencies in health services.”

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said: "I welcome the publication of the first annual report. I have set improving patient outcomes and patient safety as one of my priorities for 2015 and beyond. I am a strong believer in transparency and open data. As they say, if you don't measure it, you cannot improve it and without regular measurement and reporting you cannot know if your policies and reforms are actually making a positive difference."

Online Editors