The long-awaited new operating theaters for orthopedic surgery at Merlin Park Hospital could be operational within a month.
That’s what the HSE told Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish, with construction of the two operating theaters due to be completed by the end of March – ending a shortage of operational capacity dating back to 2017.
“The new theaters are expected to be outfitted and completed by the end of March 2022,” Paul de Freine, acting country manager of the HSE Capital & Estates division, told MP Grealish this week in a written response to a parliamentary question.
“It is expected that a minimum of 3,000 orthopedic procedures will initially be performed in the new theater hall and, depending on the staff, it is hoped that this figure will increase to over 4,000 orthopedic procedures per year,” he said. he adds.
The news was welcomed by Deputy Grealish, who pointed out that waiting lists for orthopedic procedures in Galway had increased since a leaking roof forced the closure of two operating theaters at Merlin Park Hospital in September 2017.
“We have been waiting for more than four and a half years for them to be replaced and in the meantime the waiting lists for orthopedic procedures have increased to twice the national rate,” he said.
“We now have a total of over 7,800 people who are on orthopedic waiting lists in Galway, either as inpatients or outpatients, an increase of 1,340.
“An indication of the impact of reduced treatment options in Galway on those waiting for help is that numbers have increased by 21% in Galway since September 2017, compared to less than 11% in the rest of the country” said Deputy Grealish.
“But it is the people waiting in pain for the most serious operations such as hip surgery or knee replacement surgery who have been particularly affected in Galway.
“The number of these people awaiting hospital operations in Galway has increased by 48% over the last four and a half years, while their number nationally has fallen significantly, by 13%.”
The Independent TD has highlighted the plight of those waiting for the lost period of time to get the help they need in Galway, with people waiting over a year and a half for orthopedic operations as hospital patients rise further six times the number in 2017, increasing from 42 then to 282 today.
“The saddest thing about all of this is that many of the people we are talking about here would fall into the category of elderly people, whose quality of life has been extremely affected and their ability to move has disappeared in many cases. “
HSE’s Paul de Freine, in his response to MP Grealish’s parliamentary question, explained how €10.57 million had been provided for the supply of the two new operating theaters and ancillary accommodation, including a scrub, anesthesia rooms, disposal room, recorder bay, staff changing rooms, office, kitchenette and maintenance room.
“The development is an upgrade and consolidation of the existing theater service at the site. A new connecting corridor will connect the existing hospital block to the new development. The theaters will primarily be used for elective orthopedic surgery at Merlin Park University Hospital,” he added. Work began in March 2021.