There is broad recognition that the Irish healthcare delivery system cannot survive in its current format. At the same time higher levels of quality cannot be achieved or sustained by placing further stress on current systems of care. With the current focus on technical quality within the healthcare system, there is a real danger that staff may be discouraged from providing that invisible and often subjective element of personal care and attention that has been the bedrock of the caring professions. What is required is an agenda which is more than simply cutting costs and doing more of the same with less. Improved performance will depend not only on new system redesign and process improvement but also, critically, in engagement with the people who deliver services, such that they are enabled to motivate and inspire themselves to make changes which are of real and lasting value.
Every one of us interprets the quality of healthcare in different ways. But fundamentally, the human connection between staff and patient becomes the defining moment for the whole experience of excellence in healthcare.