Call for probe after Merlin leak causes cancellation of eight hundred procedures

A call has been made for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the closure this week of operating theatres in Merlin Park Hospital after the discovery of major leaks in the roof structure.

Fianna Fail Galway City councillor Peter Keane has called for the probe after the closure was ordered by the HSE’s Micro-Biology Department which condemned the theatres after the discovery of the leaks.Cllr Keane said that within the last year the HSE awarded a €1m contract for the installation of an air-conditioning and air-purification upgrade together with refurbishment works to waterproof the roof structure at Merlin Park Hospital as was required under the integration of modern standards within the hospital.

“However, clearly this problem has arisen as a result of said works which is totally and utterly unacceptable. On an annual basis there are more than 3,200 orthopaedic procedures carried out in Merlin Park and the closure of theatre space at the hospital will result in the immediate cancellation of over 800 orthopaedic procedures scheduled between now and the year-end.

“It is disgraceful that this has been allowed to happen. There has to be accountability and responsibility in the HSE where works contracts are concerned. Somebody must be held accountable for this mess,” said Cllr Keane.

He went on to say that sanctions must be imposed on those with decision-making power surrounding works contracts and much greater transparency is required.

“With the unprecedented numbers of patients already on trolleys in the Emergency Department at University College Hospital and the resultant pressures on theatre space there is no prospect of space being made available to transfer these lists to the Regional Hospital. This will result in further waiting lists and further cancellations at huge cost to patient care and taxpayers money,” concluded Cllr Keane.

In the light of the leaks, Social Democrats Galway representative Niall Ó Tuathail has called for the government to “stop being penny-wise and pound-foolish” with our health system. “This call comes as news emerged this week that operations are being cancelled in Merlin Park Hospital in Galway due to a leaking roof while senior doctors estimate that up to €5bn of government funds is needed for new hospitals across the country.

“The crisis will get worse unless we quickly move more care outside of hospitals: “In the NHS, where I do most of my work, we are setting up community teams of doctors, nurses and social workers that both prevent illness and also allow people to get back home quickly and safely after being in hospital,” he said, adding that “it’s not only better for patients but it is a far cheaper way to take pressure off the system than building new hospitals. We have a choice ahead of us now of either changing how the health service works or continuing with an expensive hospital-based system which will mean either higher cost or people dying younger than they should.”

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