Elective orthopaedic services are provided at Merlin Park Hospital.
The Deputy will be aware that in September 2017, leaks developed in the roof of the building that houses the two orthopaedic theatres at Merlin Park Hospital. This necessitated the closure of both theatres in the interest of patient safety. The Saolta University Healthcare Group, with a view to retaining elective orthopaedic services within Galway University Hospitals, transferred a number of staff to University Hospital Galway, as an interim measure. In that regard, 8 elective orthopaedic beds were opened in St Finbarr’s ward and these operated from October 2017 to March 2018.
Works on the repairs of the roof at Merlin Park have now been completed. Consequently, staff who had transferred temporarily to St. Finbarr's Ward have returned to Merlin Park where elective orthopaedic surgery has recommenced. The Deputy may wish to note that there are now 25 elective orthopaedic beds, comprising 21 inpatient beds and 4 day beds, at the hospital and these beds have been in operation since March last.
Finally, I should mention that the HSE has submitted a proposal to the Department for the development of increased bed capacity across the system, and this includes a submission from Saolta University Health Care Group. This proposal is part of a general submission from the HSE to identify the location and mix of beds across the hospital system which can be opened and staffed this year, and into 2019, in order to improve preparedness for Winter 2018/19. Consideration of the proposal is at an early stage.