CLARE Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to locate a proposed surgical hub for the Mid-West Region at Ennis General Hospital. 

Limerick was initially proposed as one of five locations for a suite of fully staffed and equipped operating theatres either in new modular buildings or retrofitted commercial/retail centres.

“The location of this facility has not yet been identified and I believe that Ennis would be by far the best option for operational, financial and logistical reasons,” Deputy Carey said.

I have submitted a Parliamentary Question to Minister Donnelly asking him to give serious consideration to my proposal on the basis that Ennis is ideally positioned to provide such a service as it has spare capacity and a cohort of highly qualified staff.

“€10 million has already been committed to upgrade two surgery theatres at Ennis General Hospital. This funding, along with the investment needed to deliver the regional surgical hub, would deliver a long term investment in the county’s public health infrastructure.

“It would also represent good value for the taxpayer as the funding would be directed at a hospital rather than a temporary building or a repurposed office block. 

“Locating the hub at Ennis Hospital would also help deliver on the Minister’s stated intention of having it fully operational within the next 12 to 18 months.

“The surgical hubs will be designed to carry out hundreds of thousands of procedures annually and the overall intention is to ensure that nobody is waiting longer than three months for day procedures, once they are assessed as clinically suitable.

“The hubs will be kept free for patients awaiting scheduled care, thereby reducing the risk of short-notice cancellations when the healthcare system is under pressure. The intention is to cut waiting times for high volume procedures such as urology, ear, nose and throat, orthopaedic, gynaecology, vascular and general surgery,” Deputy Carey explained.

The idea is based on the Reeves Centre in Tallaght University Hospital, which saw a retail unit separate to the hospital converted into a hub for day surgeries. It resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in waiting lists for certain procedures.

”The decision to extend the concept to Limerick, Waterford, Cork, Galway and Dublin follows cabinet approval for a €100 million plan to deal with the backlog in planned operations across the health service.