Grealish condemns ‘unacceptable’ rise in number of people waiting for orthopaedic surgery

It is “unacceptable” that almost 7,000 people are currently waiting for inpatient or outpatient treatment in Galway, and that the numbers waiting for orthopaedic surgery has shot up by one third - despite dropping in the rest of the State.

This is the view of Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, who was responding to figures released recently. According to the figures the reason the numbers waiting for orthopaedic surgery and related treatments has shot up by one third in Galway is due to the absence of full theatre facilities at Merlin Park Hospital.

He noted that the 35 per cent rise in Galway “contrasts sharply” with waiting list figures for orthopaedic treatments in other hospitals in the State, which have actually fallen by more than one per cent in the same period.

The figures also revealed that 6,883 people are currently waiting for inpatient or outpatient treatment in Galway - an increase of 1,772 since a problem with leaking roofs in the two operating theatres at the hospital resulted in their closure in September 2017. Regarding inpatient procedures, there was a 70 per cent rise in Galway (from 765 in September 2017 to 1,297 currently ), against a decrease in the rest of the State of 22 per cent (a fall of more that 2,400, from 10,926 down to 8,497 ).

One of the two operating theatres closed as a result of the leaking roofs in 2017 was subsequently brought back into service, but plans for a new modular theatre building hit a stumbling block earlier this year when the HSE terminated its letter of intent with the successful provider due to problems reaching agreement on a leasing contract.

The HSE then decided to proceed with a rapid build traditional procurement capital project approach. The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, in a letter to Dep Grealish, said it was planned to “progress the detailed design of the project during 2019” with a view to being in a position to go to tender and progress the construction of the building during 2020.

“It’s absolutely imperative,” said Dep Grealish, “that we get full operating theatre services up and running in Merlin Park or these shocking figures are going to continue to get worse.”

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