HIQA statement on risk-based infection prevention and control inspections of acute hospitals

Date of publication:

Today, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published five inspection reports on compliance with infection prevention and control in acute hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Risk-based inspections were carried out in October and November 2020 in:

•    Naas General Hospital
•    Letterkenny University Hospital
•    University Hospital Limerick
•    South Tipperary General Hospital 
•    Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar.

A significant amount of work had been undertaken by all hospitals in implementing multiple measures to mitigate and manage potential threats posed by COVID-19. Specific risks related to infection prevention control practices at Naas General Hospital and specialist infection prevention and control staffing deficits at South Tipperary General Hospital were identified and escalated to their respective hospital group chief executive officers (CEOs) for mitigation. Assurances were subsequently provided that these issues were addressed following each inspection.

All hospitals had experienced COVID-19 outbreaks in the first wave of the pandemic. At the time of inspection, outbreak reports had been completed following outbreaks in only two out of the five hospitals; however, each hospital had endeavoured to learn from the outbreaks experienced during the first phase of the pandemic. 

Two wards were inspected in every hospital; one ward on the COVID-19 pathway and one on the non-COVID-19 pathway. Overall, the environment and equipment were clean in four hospitals, with improvements required in Letterkenny University Hospital around the hygiene of equipment in one ward area. As previously highlighted in HIQA reports, infrastructure, including lack of single room capacity and maintenance issues, remained a challenge in all hospitals inspected.

Note to Editor:

  • The acute hospitals inspection programme monitors compliance against the National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections in acute healthcare services; 2017. The focus of inspection is on governance and risk management structures and measures to ensure the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • A Guide to HIQA’s targeted monitoring programme against the National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections in acute healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic 2020 can be viewed here.