Government gives go-ahead to Cork and Galway Elective Hospitals

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The Government has approved the development of new Elective Hospitals in Cork and Galway and the next stage of the Enhanced Provision of Elective Care Programme.

The preferred sites, recommended to be brought forward into the planning phase, are at St Stephen’s Hospital, Sarsfield Court in Cork, and Merlin Park in Galway.

The Department of Health said the Cork centre, with nine planned theatres, seven endoscopy suites and nine minor operation rooms, is expected to provide 180,000 extra procedures, treatments and diagnostic appointments per year. 

The Galway centre with a planned eight operating theatres, seven endoscopy suites and nine minor operation rooms is forecast to provide 175,000 additional procedures, treatments and diagnostic appointments per year.

The indicative range for the capital budget for the build, technology and programme team for Cork is estimated to be between €614m – €828m.  The indicative range for the capital budget for the build, technology and programme team for Galway is estimated to be between €516m – €695m.

The Department said an announcement on the Dublin project would follow once its associated Business Case had been approved by Government. “The new national Elective Hospitals will provide services for the whole population, extending well beyond their traditional ‘catchment’ area.  The development of elective hospitals will change the way in which day case, scheduled procedures, surgeries, scans and outpatient services can be better arranged across the country, ensuring greater capacity in the future and help to address waiting lists. The development of the elective hospitals, in Cork, Galway, and Dublin, will provide coverage to more than 80% of the overall population (travel distance within 120km, or approximately 90 mins).”

The Elective Hospitals will be focused on providing Day case, GI Endoscopy, minor operations, outpatient treatment and outpatient diagnostics services. These cases are relatively low acuity and high-volume in their nature (e.g. operations relating to cataracts, gallstones, hernias and tonsils). The greater elective care capacity created will also release capacity in existing hospitals for non-elective and inpatient activity.

Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, said the HSE also  plans to work with Hospital Groups to progress proposals for a shorter-term measure by developing ‘surgical hubs’ in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Dublin. “The HSE will work with hospitals/hospital groups to develop these units on site or close to existing Model 4/3 hospitals. They will be modelled on the very successful Reeves Centre at Tallaght University Hospital. It is intended that they be developed and operational in 12-18 months and have a shorter-term impact on waiting times. “Once the building was identified and procured, the Tallaght model took 12-17 months to open on a phased basis and we can use the learnings from the Tallaght model and develop these quickly. The cost for five surgical hubs is expected to be €90-€100 million. This shorter-term intervention will also support efforts to consider the necessary reforms and enablers needed to separate unscheduled and scheduled care pathways that will be required by the longer-term provision of the Elective Care programme.”