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Quarter of medical equipment at city hospitals more than 10 years old


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Quarter of medical equipment at city hospitals more than 10 years old Quarter of medical equipment at city hospitals more than 10 years old

The HSE has identified twin threats of aging medical equipment and a cyberattack as posing a serious risk to patient safety at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Merlin Park.

An internal risk assessment has identified that about a quarter of all medical equipment at Galway University Hospitals was greater than 10 years old.

This posed a risk to “maintaining service levels and providing safe care due to aging biomedical devices”, according to the risk report circulated internally last December.

There was a risk to staff and patients’ health and safety, as a result, including due to “risk of infection transmission”. There was also a fear of breaching statutory guidelines and standards set by HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority).

Saolta University Healthcare Group, which runs both city public hospitals, has submitted a request for funding to Government with a list of priorities under the National Equipment Replacement Programme.

The internal risk register also warns of the possibility of another cyberattack on GUH’s hospital IT system that paralyzed the local health services in 2021.

The cyberattack in June 2021 led to the loss of IT infrastructure, resulting in they “loss of communication, loss of access to information systems, access to medical devices and equipment, access to telephony and Wi-Fi”.

This negatively impacted all services because “information to treat patients was not available”.

Clinicians were unable to access emails remotely, by phone, “creating patient safety and treatment continuity issues”, according to the risk assessment.

The hospitals had “insufficient” staffing levels in IT that was required for troubleshooting and managing systems.

In terms of IT infrastructure, the risk assessment said some clinical systems and hardware were “not fit for purpose” or “do not have required functionality/connectivity with other systems”.

GUH said that as a control measure it was planning to recruit more ICT staff and roll out key projects to improve its IT systems.

Pictured: UHG: plan for new cancer centre of excellence being appraised for inclusion in this year’s capital plan.

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