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Patient Council Gives Active Voice to Service Users at UL Hospitals Group

John Hannafin, Patient Council chairman
John Hannafin, Patient Council chairman

A strong voice for patients in planning and delivering acute hospital services in the Midwest is the key objective of the new Patient Council at UL Hospitals Group.

The Patient Council was established in 2016 to enable patients and their relatives become active partners in UL Hospitals Group. And following a call for expressions of interest, five new members of the public have joined the newly constituted Patient Council this year.

The Patient Council advises the Hospital Group on ways to improve services and the hospital experience for patients and families who use any of its six hospitals. It provides a strong independent voice for patients, service users and their families. It comprises 11 members of the public and eight UL Hospitals Group staff.

John Hannafin, Chairman, Patient Council, commented: “In recent years, the Department of Health and the HSE have expressed a desire for more efficient and effective care for patients and families accessing hospital services. Patient representatives are participating in a consultative capacity at hospital group level and on regional and national forums.

“The UL Hospitals Group Patient Council is a very good example of the desire to involve patients and relatives in contributing to further enhancing excellent standards and quality of care as evidenced by the patient participation surveys of the past couple of years. The Patient Council is a partnership of public/voluntary and hospitals staff mandated to contribute to the goal of patient wellness.”

Mr Hannafin added: “In 2019, the public/voluntary members and HSE the staff members are bringing new and exciting prospects, building on the modest achievements of the first years of the Council’s work. The UL Hospitals Group Patient and Public Participation Strategy includes a significant role for the Patient Council that will have positive outcomes for patients and families into the future.

“The Council is most appreciative for the support of hospital management and staff in its work on behalf of patients and families and looks to the future with increasing confidence to this partnership developing innovative responses to new and ongoing challenges impacting on all who use group hospital services.”

Margaret Gleeson, Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery, UL Hospitals Group, and Vice-Chair, Patient Council added: “Only by having truly meaningful engagement can we build the trust and confidence necessary to work together with our patients to improve our services. I want to sincerely thank the members of the public who have volunteered to take on this important task of helping us build a better health service. The public members of the council have a wealth of experience in industry, in management and administration, in healthcare and in many other walks of life. Most importantly, all bring that perspective of having either themselves been patients in UL Hospitals Group or having been on that journey with their loved ones.”

Members of the Patient Council are already making a contribution in improving services through their involvement in various committees and projects within UL Hospitals Group. This has included work on planning the new Emergency Department in UHL and the 60-bed inpatient block that is currently under construction. Members of the Council are actively involved in various committees including end-of-life care, nutrition and hydration, directional signage/wayfinding, patient flow and on developing improvement plans in response to the findings of the National Patient Experience Survey.

The Council has a formal reporting relationship to the Quality Improvement Committee within UL Hospitals Group.

The members of the Patient Council are:

  • Melody Buckley, Public Member, Lisnagry, County Limerick
  • Dr Gerry Burke, Chief Clinical Director (Interim), UL Hospitals Group
  • Kay Caball, Public Member, Limerick City
  • Mike Dwane, Communications Officer, UL Hospitals Group
  • Catherine English, Public Member, Bruff, County Limerick
  • Jill Franz, Public Member, Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare
  • Margaret Gleeson (vice-chair), Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery, UL Hospitals Group
  • John Hannafin (chair), Public Member, Southill, Limerick
  • Miriam McCarthy, Patient Advocacy and Liaison Services Manager, UL Hospitals Group
  • Declan McNamara, Director of Nursing, Perioperative Directorate, UL Hospitals Group
  • Tammy Meaney, Public Member, Shannon, County Clare
  • Donal O’Brien, Public Member, Pallaskenry, County Limerick
  • Dr Nuala O’Connell, Consultant Microbiologist, UL Hospitals Group
  • Niamh O’Grady, Directorate Manager, Operational Services Directorate, UL Hospitals Group
  • John O’Neill, Public Member, Doonbeg, County Clare
  • Marina Rankin, Business Manager, Diagnostics Directorate, UL Hospitals Group
  • Judy Ryan, Public Member, Cashel, County Tipperary
  • Michael Ryan, Public Member, Bruff, County Limerick
  • Michael Sheehan, Public Member, Parteen, County Clare
  • Bernie O’Malley/Kaoife McElligott, Office of the Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery, UL Hospitals Group (secretary to the Patient Council)