Work has commenced on a design brief for a three-storey elective surgery unit at Merlin Park, which would be the first phase in the development of a new hospital on the 147-acre site, it was revealed last evening.
The new building will incorporate a specialised endoscopy unit, an orthopaedic theatre complex, and facilities for day surgery.
Plans for the development were presented to Health Minister Simon Harris at a meeting with hospital management yesterday (Wednesday ) afternoon, which has been organised by Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton.
It is seen as the first phase in the development of a new hospital at Merlin Park, and will be progressed independently of an options appraisal currently underway regarding the long-term configuration of acute hospital services in Galway.
Deputy Naughton, who has led the campaign for a new hospital in Galway since her election to the Dáil last year, described the plans as a major step towards the modernisation and redevelopment of the region’s healthcare infrastructure.
“The proposed three-storey build would be the first phase in the development of a new hospital at Merlin Park, but it would also have immediate and important benefits as a standalone facility,” she said.
“It would take a large volume of non-emergency activity from UHG, freeing up bed spaces and resources; enabling clinicians to reduce waiting lists and address the longstanding problem of overcrowding.”
Deputy Naughton arranged the meeting between Minister Harris and key Saolta representatives to discuss the situation that has arisen as a result of a leak in operating theatres, which led to the cancellation of all elective orthopaedic surgery.
“Some short-term measures have been devised to allow a certain amount of surgical activity to proceed, including the reopening of eight closed beds at UHG and limited use of theatre time at the hospital,” she said.
“There are also proposals to procure modular theatres but these would require groundworks and it is unlikely that these would be operational until early next year at best.
“A key message at the meeting will be that these stopgap solutions are insufficient and a longer-term plan is required in order to bring Galway’s hospital facilities out of the 1950s, when they were built, and into the 21st century,” said the Fine Gael TD.