As the Deputy is aware, as a result of the infrastructural issues affecting the roof of the building that housed the two orthopaedic theatres on the Merlin Park University Hospital site, remedial work was carried out in March 2018 to facilitate the reopening of one of the elective orthopaedic theatres.
Following the recommissioning of the theatre procedures started again and in the twelve months to September 2018 there were 2,337 operations for orthopaedics at Merlin Park.
Saolta University Health Care Group is working towards restoring the full elective orthopaedic service. A tender process to provide two modular theatres for orthopaedics was undertaken and a successful vendor was selected. The preferred supplier is responsible for the fabrication, installation and fit out of the modular theatres.
I have been advised by the HSE that the first draft of contracts was issued by the HSE in May 2018. There has been active engagement with both legal teams and discussions are continuing. A planning application was submitted in December 2018. Galway City Council has sought additional information which the HSE is now responding to.
The Government has further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the NTPF increasing from €55 million in 2018 to €75 million this year.
The joint Department of Health/HSE/NTPF Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 was published on Monday. The plan sets out measures to improve care for patients waiting for scheduled care in 2019 by reducing wait times for inpatient/day case treatment and outpatient appointments. The Plan will, again this year, place a strong focus on high volume procedures, including orthopaedics. When combined with HSE activity it is projected that the NTPF will be in a position to offer treatment to all clinically suitable patients waiting more than 6 months for hip or knee replacement.
The NTPF will deliver additional activity in the health service by working with hospital groups and individual hospitals as well as private health providers to maximise the number of patients treated in both a public and private capacity. I would strongly encourage all hospitals, including Galway University Hospital, to collaborate with the NTPF to identify waiting list initiatives.
Subject to a successful determination of the planning application and successful discussions on the contract with the preferred bidder, the provision of the two modular orthopaedic theatres at Merlin Park University Hospital will proceed.