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Policy Information

Acute Care

Published: 25 July 2019
From: Department of Health


Acute care is delivered in a hospital, rather than in the community.

Acute care services include:

  • inpatient scheduled care
  • unscheduled or emergency care
  • maternity care
  • outpatient and diagnostic services
  • cancer care
  • blood transfusion services
  • organ donation and transplantation

Learn more about Ireland's public hospitals.

Access to Care

Reducing waiting times for patients for hospital operations and procedures is a priority for the government.

The Scheduled Care Access Plan sets out measures to improve care for patients waiting for scheduled care in 2019.

Under the plan:

  • the HSE is to deliver 1.155 million elective hospital operations and procedures (including GI Scopes) at a value of €1.4 billion
  • the HSE will deliver more than 1 million outpatient appointments to new patients at a value of approximately €130 million.The NTPF will arrange 25,000 hospital operations and procedures at a value of €58 million
  • the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) will arrange 5,000 Gastro Intestinal Scopes at a value of €5 million
  • the NTPF will arrange 40,000 outpatient appointments for new patients at a value of €6 million

Cancer Policy

Cancer is a common condition. Each year around 33,000 new cases are diagnosed in Ireland. More than one in three people will get some form of cancer during their lifetime. However, survival for some common cancers is getting better because of more awareness, screening, finding cancer early and better treatments.

Many people in Ireland are now living significantly beyond cancer diagnosis and treatment. There are more than 150,000 cancer survivors.

Outcomes for Irish patients with cancer continue to improve. Long-term survival for all invasive cancers increased to 61% for patients diagnosed in 2009-2013, up from 44% between 1994-1999. Breast cancer five-year survival is now 83% and survival for other cancers, such as prostate and testicular, is over 90%.

Read more

Maternity Policy

Ireland's National Maternity Strategy, "Creating a Better Future Together", ensures that women are front and centre in all decisions about their care. The aim of the strategy is to ensure that every woman is able to access the right level of care, from the right professional, at the right time and in the right place, based on her need.

Read the National Maternity Strategy.

Learn more about maternity care services.

Organ Donation Policy

Organ donation saves lives. The government is committed to making organ donation the norm in Ireland when people pass away in circumstances where donation is possible.

There are three specialist organ transplantation centres in Ireland.

Learn more about organ donation and how the process works.

In 2019, the General Scheme of a Human Tissue Bill was published.

The Bill will include provisions on:

  • organ donation and transplantation
  • hospital post-mortems
  • anatomical examination (including medical education and training)
  • public display of bodies after death

Significantly, the Bill provides for the introduction of an opt-out system of consent for deceased organ donation and an associated register.

A Trauma System for Ireland

Estimates suggest Ireland is likely to have 1,600 major trauma cases per year. Currently, significant numbers of major trauma patients go to hospitals that cannot provide necessary and definitive care.

In February 2018, A Trauma System for Ireland was published. This report aims to reduce the incidence and the burden of trauma and to significantly improve the survival rate of major trauma patients, by ensuring that every patient receives the best possible standard of care in the most appropriate facility.

It addresses the entire care pathway from prevention through to rehabilitation, and recommends the establishment of an inclusive trauma system with two hub-and-spoke trauma networks, two Major Trauma Centres and up to 13 trauma receiving hospitals.

An interim implementation group has been established by the HSE, as recommended in the report, and is progressing the four immediate actions (orthopaedic bypass protocols, selection of Major Trauma Centre for Dublin, recruitment of National Clinical Lead and detailed implementation planning).

The Trauma System for Ireland will enhance the chance of survival and lead to better patient outcomes by making sure that those who need care get the right care, at the right time.

Screening and CervicalCheck

A screening test is carried out on people who seem to be healthy. They don’t have symptoms.

A screening test is different from a diagnostic test:

  • a diagnostic test is designed for an individual with symptoms of a disease to assess whether they have it or to follow its progress
  • a screening test is designed for individuals who do not necessarily have any symptoms of the condition tested for. It identifies those with a risk marker for the condition (for example, the presence of abnormal cells) and divides them into high and low risk

Some will still develop cancer despite regular screening. While the risk of cancer can be reduced, it cannot be eliminated by screening.

Examples of screening programmes include breast cancer, cervical cancer, bowel cancer and diabetic retinopathy.

Read more

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