Planning must begin immediately for a new hospital in Galway city as the Government has "no plan to tackle the chronic hospital waiting lists", where 42,516 people are waiting for operations.
This is the view of Sinn Féín senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh who is calling on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to establish a working group to plan for a new hospital with the appropriate resources and staff available to service the region.
His comments follow a recent briefing for Oireachtas members by the management of the Saolta Hospital Group which operates UHG. The group said the capacity of the present hospital cannot deal with the numbers passing through and is a reason for the high numbers on waiting lists.
According to the Connemara senator, University Hospital Galway has "the highest outpatient and inpatient waiting lists" in the State, with the latest figures available showing 31,417 people on the outpatient waiting list. Of these, 4,744 are waiting more than a year.
Sen Ó Clochartaigh also said the latest figures were "particularly high" for orthopaedics, cardiology, dermatology, and ENT, while 11,099 people are waiting for procedures, a quarter of those waiting more than a year.
He has now asked the Minister for Health Simon Harris to outline his Department's plan to "rectify this appalling situation" and he criticised the Government, accusing it of having "no clear strategy" on the issue.