Cabinet green light moves elective hospital at Merlin Park a step closer

Galway's much needed elective hospital moved a step closer last evening after the Cabinet signed off on the next stage of its design and planning, meaning the HSE can move ahead with the preliminary design and procurement phase.

At the same meeting, Cabinet approved the emerging preferred site for the new hospital at Merlin Park; and the development of an interim Surgical Hub in Galway as an interim measure to help reduce the waiting list for elective procedures.

Minister Hildegarde Naughton who first mooted the idea of an elective Hospital for Galway in 2016 welcomed the fact that the emerging preferred site in Galway allow for 100% expansion of facilities to meet future needs. "It is also positive that the Elective Care Centre will, in phase 2, provide inpatient treatment, which clinicians in Galway and other locations state is badly needed,” Minister Naughton indicated.

“In order to fully realise the scale of this proposal, the project will consist of the greatest-health related spending in the region since the old fever hospital was constructed in Merlin Park, opening in 1953,” the local TD explained.

The Government has also agreed to the establishment of a surgical hub in Galway as an interim measure to help reduce the waiting list for elective procedures. The surgical hub will be modelled on the Reeves Day Surgery Unit at Tallaght University Hospital which opened in December 2020.

The Unit manages specific day case surgical specialities in Orthopaedics, General Surgery, Urology, ENT, Vascular, Gynaecology and Anaesthesia / Pain Medicine.

The surgical hubs will not provide the same level of service as an elective hospital but will help reduce waiting lists for certain procedures. Over the last 18 months, the number of patients waiting on surgery over three months in Tallaght has reduced by 93%.

Minister for Disability and Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East, Anne Rabbitte said that, once opened, the new hospital will facilitate around 175,000 procedures/treatments/diagnostics per year, or 585 every day.

The new site will include eight theatres and a further nine minor operation rooms, seven Endoscopy suites and a further six outpatient diagnostic suites, 10 outpatient rooms and 15 outpatient consultant rooms, with almost 320 staff. The Preliminary Business Case has met the requirements of Gate 1 of the Public Spending Code so can now move to detailed planning and procurement for some sites. The Public Spending Code states that for projects over €100 million, Government approval must be sought for projects at preliminary business case stage.

Minister Rabbitte said that this project is recognition by Government of the pressures being faced by the University Hospital Galway.

"This new hospital will be a major change to health infrastructure in Galway. There will be a focus on high volume procedures and treatments, such as Orthopaedics, Opthamology, Urology, Gynaecology, Pain Medicine and Ear, Nose and Throat, which is absolutely major for the region.

"This will support not just people from Galway but across the West and Northwest. “These new elective hospitals allow us clearly to separate out scheduled and unscheduled care, which means better access to care for elective patients and a reduction in cancellations. It also ensures capacity in acute hospitals for the more complex and acute care some patients require," she added.


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