Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

Update on Sláintecare

Ms Laura Magahy:

Electives are a key part of addressing waiting lists. A great deal of work has been done under Frank Keane's chairmanship and by colleagues across the Department of Health and the HSE to look at the terms of reference and the things we need to do to develop the capacity over a ten-year horizon of need, quicker higher access, to drive down the waiting lists and reduce the cancellations. We will have the business case done by the end of the year. The capital funding is in place, so then it is a matter of implementing. The decision we are looking at is how these can be done as quickly as possible. Is there a way we can do what has been done in Tallaght, for example, which is to adapt an existing set of buildings to get four ambulatory elective theatres? They will be opening by the end of the year. That is a highly significant initiative which will, after one year, address 5% of the waiting lists and hit those Sláintecare targets. We are examining if we can deliver them not in the normal five- or ten-year building programme timeframe, but something much more lively and alert in order that people can get day surgery procedures as quickly as possible.

The national development plan commits to having centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway. We have looked at, and finished, the question of what provision is needed for the entire country. There is no point in just looking at what is needed in Galway, when those who live outside Galway are not provided for. We stood back completely and took a countrywide look at the elective procedures that are needed and defined them under ten different specialties. Now, we are in the middle of saying what this translates to in a spatial brief. We are assessing what is the quickest way of getting these implemented, whether it is through direct build, adapting existing infrastructure or whether there is a quicker way of doing it. We have calls out through various channels to get to that answer as quickly as possible. We cannot wait ten years for these elective centres.