A government TD has questioned a delay by the Health Service Executive (HSE ) in deciding whether to proceed with plans for the development of a new Emergency Department at University Hospital Galway (UHG ).
A decision on a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed unit was due at the end of last March but hospital management has now indicated that a decision is unlikely until the end of the year.
The unexplained delay has been questioned by Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, who said that patients were being placed at risk while the protracted deliberations continued.
The current Emergency Department has been described by hospital management as “a significant risk”, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also branded the facility as “not fit for purpose”.
Deputy Naughton raised the issue of the proposed replacement unit with the Minister for Health and last week was advised that a decision on the cost-benefit analysis was now not expected to issue until the end of the year.
The analysis of the proposed facility is intended to examine planning and funding requirements for a new Emergency Department at UHG. If the analysis is favourable, the development will be allowed to proceed to design phase.
“There has been no explanation for the delay in reaching a decision on whether to replace the existing Emergency Department, which has been identified as inadequate and a significant risk,” said Deputy Naughton.
“The longer that these deliberations continue, the more patients who will be placed at risk and receive treatment in a suboptimal setting. The least that is required at this point is an explanation of the delay.”
The Fine Gael TD, who is a member of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, said that she was hopeful the new unit would ultimately get the go-ahead, but restated her support for the relocation of hospital services to Merlin Park.
“Investment in the Emergency Department at UHG is an immediate priority but it remains the case that the potential for the expansion of services at UHG is limited and we have to develop a long-term vision for the relocation of acute services to Merlin Park.
“We need to get our healthcare service moving,” added Deputy Naughton. The Emergency Department at UHG is attended by approximately 62,000 patients each year. The HSE Capital Plan for 2016 provides for funding in respect of a full option appraisal and cost-benefit analysis of a new facility.