Govt urged to build three elective hospitals

Promise to build was made in Sláintecare
  • Deborah Condon

The president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has urged the Government to ensure that the building of three elective hospitals, which were promised in Sláintecare, proceed.

Sláintecare is a long-term plan to reform Ireland's health system and it includes plans to build three new elective hospitals. These would deal with non-urgent, planned surgeries and the treatment of chronic conditions. They would not have Emergency Departments (EDs).

However, following the growing controversy surrounding the spiraling costs of the new national children's hospital, the Government has admitted that this will have an impact on other health projects, although these have not yet been outlined.

The cost of building the children's hospital has jumped from €987 million in 2018 to €1.4billion now. However, this is without the hospital even being fitted out. The final cost could exceed €1.7 billion.

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, is currently under major pressure to explain his handling of these cost overruns.

RCSI president and consultant surgeon, Mr Kenneth Mealy, has called on the Government to deliver the three elective hospitals promised in Sláintecare. He said he has written to the Taoiseach and Minister Harris, insisting that any delay in the development of these hospitals would have ‘serious implications for patients on waiting lists for scheduled surgery'.

"We know that a million additional surgical bed days will be required annually to meet the needs of our growing and ageing population over the next 30 years.

"Providing this additional capacity requires a fundamental shift in the way surgical services are delivered in Ireland. Moving to a model that separates acute unscheduled from necessary scheduled, or elective, surgery is critical if we are to find a sustainable way of delivering surgical services in the future," Mr Mealy insisted.

He said that if plans to build these three hospitals are delayed or abandoned, ‘then it is difficult to see a sustainable solution to our waiting lists problem'.

"The vast majority of complex surgery for our sickest patients can only be delivered in a protected scheduled care environment," he pointed out.

Mr Mealy made his comments ahead of the RCSI's annual Charter Day meeting for surgeons. The Charter Day meetings are held every year to commenmorate the foundation of the RCSI on February 11, 1784.


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