Patients in the HSE West region are being let down badly by the lack of progress in terms of delivering orthopaedic theatres at Merlin Park Hospital. It is incredible that it will take a full year for the issue to be rectified and then only partially through the provision of a temporary theatre.
Last October theatres at Merlin Park Hospital were closed due to a leaking roof. In recent months the HSE has gone through a tender process to acquire a modular theatre. That process is now complete and contract documentation is being drafted to issue to the successful bidder. At the moment the HSE hopes to have the theatre open in October, which will be a full year since the leaking roof was discovered.
Meanwhile, the repair work has been completed on the theatres and an external assessment has been undertaken, but the HSE is reporting that only one of the two old theatres will be open following this assessment and this will be open by mid-March.
This represents 50% of the previous capacity, which was not sufficient to meet the needs of patients in this region. A small number of the orthopaedic cases which were previously carried out in Merlin Park Hospital are now being carried out in UHG.
A brief for a day services/orthopaedic theatres and endoscopy unit project for Merlin Park is now being finalised for submission to the National Capital Steering Committee for approval. This is expected to provide capacity for the medium to long-term needs. I fail to see how this will address the congestion currently being experienced at UHG, which I believe is a key priority in terms of hospital infrastructure in the west.
I hope that I the short term the HSE will keep the old repaired building in use together with the new modular unit until a long term solution is put in place for orthopaedic surgery in Galway.