The aim of the National Clinical Programme for Surgery (NCPS) is to provide a framework for the delivery of safer, more timely, accessible, more cost-effective and efficient care for all surgical patients.

The NCPS works closely with the other clinical programmes, notably the National Clinical Programme for Anesthesia but also the Acute and Emergency Medicine, and Critical Care programmes.

NCPS also works with other clinical programmes, hospitals, hospital groups, specialty bodies, patient advocacy groups and all relevant stakeholders across the health system.

NCPS core principles

  • Improvement should be designed to give patient improved access to surgical services.
  • Targeted at having the greatest impact on waiting lists through focused capacity creation.
  • A partnership with the hospitals and hospital groups to develop and implement the capacity to positively impact on waiting lists.
  • Specialty focused so improvements will be data-driven and evidence-based.
  • Ensure that all programmes are in line with Sláintecare in ensuring that care pathways are integrated between primary care and acute hospital care.
  • Joint National Clinical Leads: Prof. Deborah McNamara/Prof. John Hyland
  • Programme Manager: Grace Reidy
  • NCPS Clinical Advisor for General Surgery: Prof. Paul Ridgway
  • NCPS Clinical Advisor for ENT: Prof. Michael Walsh
  • NCPS Clinical Advisor for Urology: Mr Eamonn Rogers
  • NCPS Clinical Advisor for Vascular: Mr Martin Feeley
  • NCPS Clinical Advisor for Plastic Surgery: Mr Padraic Regan
  • NCPS Clinical Advisor for OMFS Surgery: Mr Dermot Pearse
  • NCPS Nurse Lead: Jamie Logan
  • Data Technician: Laura Hammond
  • Business Intelligence Lead: Gerry Kelliher
  • NQAIS Clinical Deployment Project Manager: Eilish Croke

The NCPS is based in RCSI in 2 Proud's Lane, Dublin 2 and can be contacted at

General surgery

  • See and Treat: This model of streamlining patients who require minor surgical procedures from three clinic visits down to just one. The model is currently in the pilot phase and being validated on a second site. The aim of this model is to reduce the burden on acute hospitals, improve patient experience and provide GPs with the direct booking to procedures. This also allows latent capacity to be utilised more effectively. 
  • State of Emergency Surgery 2018 review: This is a document currently in a draft format that is reviewing the current service provision and workforce delivering emergency surgery throughout the country. It is envisaged that this work will be a prerequisite for a further document mapping the future of emergency surgery.


  • Model of Care (MOC) Implementation Group: Following the successful launch of the Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (ORL-HNS) Model of Care for Ireland in February 2019, the NCPS are moving the MOC to the implementation planning phase. Membership of this group will be multidisciplinary ensuring all key stakeholders are represented.
  • Direct booking tonsillectomy, patients presenting to general practice: Following review of a questionnaire for symptom validation are then booked directly onto a tonsillectomy waiting list. This reduces the amount of OPD visits and facilitates patients timely access to the services required.


  • Model of care: Urology, a Model of Care for Ireland has been completed and will launch prior to the Annual RCSI Freyer meeting in September 2019. Next steps will be the implementation of the recommendations of this MOC from policy to practice.
  • Rapid Access Hematuria Pathway: The NCPS in collaboration with the National Clinical Programme in Radiology and National Cancer Control programme have been piloting the rapid access, diagnosis and treatment of frank hematuria in line with OSPIS 28-day referral to treatment target. The final report has identified positive feedback from service users. The NCPS will bring to this proven initiative to the Scheduled Care Commissioning Group to implement in other hospital groups.
  • The treatment and intervention of males with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) has been redesigned, shifting the diagnosis to a nurse in an advanced role with a treatment algorithm for primary care practitioners to know where to send patients for optimal treatment.

Vascular surgery 

  • A model of care for vascular surgery in Ireland is currently being drafted.

Surgical nursing

  • The NCPS has developed, and continues to develop, specialty models of care, all of which advocate the role of advanced and specialist nursing practice.
  • An education and needs analysis is currently being piloted in hospital groups the aim of this survey is to scope the educational requirements of nurses in practice.

Plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery

  • The NCPS is in the process of defining the current state and developing the future state which includes resource requirements based on national gap analysis, and on international best practice
  • Develop standardised care pathways which are quality assured to support primary care and acute hospitals which are patient-centric for the patient journey in line with Sláintecare
  • Be part of an all-Ireland ‘Burns Partnership’ to include adults and paediatric patients
  • Develop standardised care pathways which are quality assured to support trauma centres and waiting list initiatives.
  • Identify key risk and mitigation plans to stabilise the service and training and education needs for succession planning in support and collaboration with the RCSI Dean and training director.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery

  • The NCPS is in the process of defining the current state and developing the future state which includes resource requirements based on national gap analysis, engagement with oral surgeons and dentists and on international best practice.
  • Develop standardised care pathways which are quality assured to support primary care, the community and acute hospitals which are patient-centric for the patient journey in line with Sláintecare
  • Identify key risk and mitigation plans to stabilise the service and training and education needs for succession planning in supporting and collaborating with the RCSI OMFS Dean and training director.

Acute Surgical Assessment Units

Acute Surgical Assessment Units (ASAUs) are dedicated surgical units were acutely ill surgical patients can be assessed and monitored prior to being admitted to hospital, or being treated and discharged. They form an integral part of the National Clinical Programme (NCPS) 2013 'Model of Care for Acute Surgery'. Their main aim is to improve patient flow and provide better access to assessment, investigation and senior decision-makers. Assessing, prioritising and treating patients in a rapid streamlined fashion through the ASAU has the potential to result in a shorter length of stay, a more positive experience for the patient, fewer complications and a lower mortality rate.

The NCPS along with collaboration from the Healthcare Pricing Office and the Office of the NCAGL for Acute Operations have now successfully accredited six sites nationally where the ASAU fulfils the minimum standards for ASAUs in Ireland. Current accredited sites are:

  • Mater Misericordiae University Hospital
  • University Hospital Galway
  • St Luke's University Hospital Kilkenny
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda
  • University Hospital Limerick
  • University Hospital Cork

Acute Floor Information System

The Acute Floor Information System (AFIS) is currently being developed to record information for core components of the acute floor, namely; EDs, AMAUs and ASAUs across the country. The NCPS is contributing to the development and procurement of this system. AFIS will provide access to similar information to that available through HIPE in relation to inpatient care provided. It will provide information on access, quality and cost of unscheduled care services.

The key areas it will cover are triage, patient tracking and data reporting; clinical documentation and discharge communication and diagnostic coding.

National Quality Assurance and Improvement System

The National Quality Assurance and Improvement System (NQAIS) Clinical is an online interactive application that analyses hospitals’ own HIPE data to provide detailed feedback to clinicians and managers. The primary focus of NQAIS Clinical is to optimise the length of stay (LOS) for safe patient care in all publicly funded Irish hospitals. NQAIS surgery and medicine have been integrated into a single system called NQAIS Clinical. Maternity, new-born, non-operative surgical cases and medical elective day cases are also included.

The evolution of NQAIS Clinical was led by Health Intelligence (Health and Wellbeing HSE) in partnership with the NCPS, National Acute Medicine Programme, National Obstetrics and Gynaecology Programme, National Clinical Programme in Trauma and Orthopaedics, Integrated Care Programme for Older Persons, Emergency Medicine Programme, the Children’s Hospital Group, hospital group representatives and the Acute Hospitals Directorate. The application was developed by OpenApp, Dublin. The overall aim of NQAIS Clinical is to provide interquartile (IQR) comparisons of the average length of stay (AvLOS) for teams providing similar care. In addition, the metrics can be used by clinical and management leads to re-engineering the delivery of care based on interdisciplinary co-operation using their own data.