At Government Buildings Galway Oireachtas representatives recently met with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris and officials from the Saolta Group on the status of the operating theatres at Merlin Park. Officials from the Saolta Group and the HSE briefed the representatives on what happened at Merlin Park and explained that damage to roofing was caused during works on the air filtration system. The officials outlined the solution which has been approved and centres on two new modular theatres.
The focus of all parties – of management, of healthcare officials, of the Saolta Group, of the HSE and the Department of Health and of public representatives must be on getting alternative operating theatres in Merlin Park up and running as soon as possible.
While the options and appraisal of a new building at Merlin Park, drawing on plans from nearly a decade ago, were mentioned at the meeting the focus was correctly on one issue – the resumption of orthopaedic procedures at Merlin Park and I’m glad that most public representatives in attendance were firmly behind that aim.
There are questions regarding the planning permission required and I’ve asked Galway City Council to deal with this as a matter of the greatest urgency. In addition, the Saolta Group is fast-tracking the procurement Merlin Park is one of the busiest theatre complexes for orthopaedic procedures outside of Dublin and a prolonged closure is unthinkable and unacceptable.
The alternative theatres for orthopaedics presented will, the Saolta Group officials have assured, increase capacity, lead to more procedures being carried out and help drive down waiting lists.
Minister Simon Harris has confirmed to me that funding for extra nurses for the two new modular theatres will be available when they become operational in January. In the interim, extra capacity at St. Finbar’s Ward will be available within a fortnight for orthopaedics which will help patients who need such healthcare now.