Thursday, 29 April 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for picking this Topical Issue and giving us an opportunity to discuss it, and I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, for attending.
I visited Cappagh hospital earlier this week and received a briefing from its chief executive, Ms Angela Lee, and one of its surgeons, Mr. Connor Green. Its excellence, capacity, figures and results are phenomenal but it is an old-style structure and there are issues with meeting HIQA's standards. Its high-dependency unit greatly restricts its capacity to operate its five theatres.
The hospital has three key demands: a new ten-bed high-dependency unit; 76 single occupancy rooms; and three additional operating theatres. If this infrastructure is put in place, we will have a great opportunity nationally to reduce waiting lists. Each of us has many people in our constituencies who are constantly contacting our constituency offices trying to get orthopaedic operations done. It is particularly galling to see young people waiting long periods for essential surgery.
The hospital has a 30-acre site. I will not raise the issue of the children's hospital or the long debate on same, but the hospital in Cappagh has the room for this new infrastructure. It believes it can double the number of surgeries it performs if this investment is made. As Deputy Brendan Smith stated, the hospital has produced detailed figures, which are with the Department of Health now. In a modern context, the contribution it is seeking from the Exchequer is not significant. For an investment of €34.5 million, it could provide this infrastructure, although that would only be for the building itself and would exclude VAT and professional fees, for example, architects' fees. It has had detailed discussions on financing the development through a public-private partnership.
The hospital's executive has put serious work into this plan and, for an investment that would be minimal in terms of the health budget, there is an opportunity to increase capacity in the orthopaedic sector greatly. The hospital has the will and capacity to do it.