A major new initiative launched yesterday at Letterkenny General Hospital is designed to improve communication between patients and staff through the establishment of a special forum.
Comprising of six members of the public and eight hospital staff, the Patient Forum, which meets every two months, has already overseen the introduction of volunteers to the hospital while also establishing communication training for junior doctors enabling them to understand the perspective of the patient.
Launching the project, which also coincided with the publication of a patient information booklet, the National Director of Quality and Patient Safety for the H.S.E., Dr. Philip Crowley said democracy needed to be a more daily experience where hospital services were concerned.
Remarking that the H.S.E. had taken a “big beating in the media”, he said Letterkenny Hospital had created a “strong partnership” between patients and staff through the setting up of the forum.
“Patients and their representatives need to be involve in the planning and delivery of services if the H.S.E. is to truly succeed in meeting their needs,” Dr. Crowley indicated.
Hospital General Manager, Sean Murphy, praised all involved in the initiative and in the production of the Patient Information Booklet. Coming into hospital could, he said, be a “frightening and bewildering experience” and the revamp of the foyer into a bright entrance area was another aspect which would help to improve this.
Founding member of the Patient Forum, Muriel Perry from Convoy spoke of the excellent care her daughter, Ruth, who passed away three years ago, had received in the hospital over seventeen years.
The forum was a “major step forward” for patients and provided the opportunity for people such as herself to highlight issues. She was now more aware of the running of a hospital and the challenges this presented.
Consumer Services Officer, Noeleen O’Donnell referred to the importance of communication and said they would be introducing a model where they were reducing the list of formal complaints and trying to deal with them informally. The forum would hopefully empower patients to communicate issues of concern.
Making his first visit to Letterkenny General Hospital, Dr. Crowley said he had toured the new A&E unit which would be a “big boost to morale” when it opened next year and would represent a fantastic step forward for the people of Letterkenny and its surrounds. Local health service campaigner, Betty Holmes urged Dr. Crowley to take the message to Dublin of the excellent achievements at Letterkenny Hospital within the constraints of a limited budget.
Speaking to the ‘Democrat’ afterwards, the National Director said the performances of the hospital had been noted at national level but added the big challenge facing all aspects of the H.S.E. was finance.
See Page 9 for photos