How the HSE is improving

The HSE is taking steps to improve our services and ensure that everyone who uses health services in Ireland gets the best treatment possible.

Who is responsible for improvements

Improvements within the HSE are the responsibility of:

  • the National Quality Improvement Team
  • the Your Service Your Say team

What the National Quality Improvement Team does

The National Quality Improvement Team has published a 'Framework for Improving Quality'.

This provides an approach for improving quality across all the health services the HSE provides.

It encourages a culture that will continuously aim to provide safe, effective and person-centred care.

Find out more in 'Framework for Improving Quality in Our Health Service. Part 1: Introducing the Framework'.

What the Your Service Your Say team does

Your Service Your Say is the way the HSE takes feedback from people who use our services.

Positive comments and compliments are shared with the service or staff member, so that we can build on what we do well. Complaints or negative comments are looked into and a report is produced. An action plan is put in place to make any improvements necessary from the report recommendations.

Relevant links:

‘Your Service Your Say: The Management of Service User Feedback’

Complaints and feedback

Making improvements and planning for the future

Further ways we're improving and planning for the future include:

  • our national screening programmes
  • conducting national patient surveys
  • creating 6 new health regions
  • long-term reform through Sláintecare

National screening programmes

The HSE’s National Screening Service delivers 4 national screening programmes for:

  • bowel cancer
  • breast cancer
  • cervical cancer
  • retinopathy in people with diabetes

The screening looks for early signs of disease in healthy people.

We're working to increase the number of people that have access to and participate in the screening programmes. Our 5-year strategy, 'Choose Screening', shows how we're doing this.

Clear evidence of the success of cancer screening is shown in National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) report data -

BowelScreen began in 2012. The rates of colorectal cancer in men have shown a significant downward trend of 2.5% per year, with a smaller but still decreasing trend of 0.3% per year in women since 1994.

BreastCheck began in 2000 and extended nationally from 2007. The proportion of women diagnosed with early-stage cancers (stage 1 and stage 2) is higher (93%) in women in the screened age group compared to the non-screened age groups of younger than 50 (78%) and older than 70 years (75%).

CervicalCheck began in 2008. Since then, there has been a clear, significant decreasing trend in the rate of cancer of 2.8% per year since 2009. This reverses the trend of a significant increase from 1999 to 2009.

Our programmes set and meet high quality assurance standards. Our cervical screening programme was systematically reviewed in 2018 and you can read our 2023 report on the completed implementation of this review.

We have also worked with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation, to create a guidance document on best practices for cervical screening programmes worldwide.

Best Practices in Cervical Screening Programmes: Audit of Cancers, Legal and Ethical Frameworks, Communication, and Workforce Competencies -

Running national surveys

We’re talking to the people who use our services to make sure our plans for the future take account of their experiences.

We run 2 surveys to do this:

  • the National Inpatient Survey - a monthly survey for anyone 16 or over who lives in Ireland and spends 24 hours or more in a hospital
  • the National Primary Care Experience Survey - an annual survey of experiences in places like doctors' surgeries, opticians and pharmacies

Find out more about the National Patient Surveys.

Creating the health regions

Hospitals in Ireland are divided into 6 Hospital Groups (HGs) while other medical and social care providers are divided into 9 Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) that are grouped and managed differently.

This makes it difficult for them to work together, for example when someone leaves hospital but still needs help at home.

To improve this, the HSE is creating 6 new health regions, with each one responsible for providing both hospital and community care for the people in that area.

Find out more about the new health regions

Sláintecare - continuing improvement

Sláintecare is the 10-year programme to transform Ireland's health and social care services.

The Sláintecare progress report for 2022 noted that improvements included:

  • the number of patients waiting longer than the Sláintecare maximum wait time decreased by 11%
  • in-patient charges for children under 16 were abolished
  • funding was provided in the 2023 Budget to end all public in-patient hospital charges
  • 2400 healthcare workers were recruited to the Enhanced Community Care Programme, which increases community health services to reduce pressure on hospitals
  • 94 of the planned 96 Community Healthcare Networks (CHNs) were established - each one serving 50,000 people, making services accessible locally and supporting people in the community
  • 21 specialist teams for older people and 21 for chronic disease management put in place

2022 Sláintecare Progress Report -

Sláintecare - our strategy for improving Ireland's healthcare system

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