Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Hospital Facilities

10:30 am

Photo of Seán KyneSeán Kyne (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State, but I join Senator Horkan in expressing disappointment that neither the Minister nor one of the Ministers of State at the Department of Health are here to take these matters. The Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, is on duty in both Houses. Unfortunately, it seems to be the new trend that Ministers come in to speak on behalf of all Departments on a certain day.

Bernard Gloster, the CEO of the HSE, is on record as saying that Galway is far behind the capital curve in comparison with other places. In Galway and the wider region need a new emergency department, improved paediatric and maternity services, new laboratories -- the existing laboratories are more than 50 years old - a cancer care centre and additional beds. I know there are also plans for a surgical hub at Merlin Park University Hospital. Last October, I raised the HSE's capital investment plans with Bernard Gloster at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Health. This was following the opening of the radiation and oncology centre at University Hospital Galway. The people of Galway are frustrated. As Mr. Gloster said on the day, nobody should try to persuade the people of Galway from their frustration because it is justified. He stated:

There is a group of internal and external experts in a project group, supporting the CEO of Saolta and me nationally, to bring together all the previous work that was done into one tight, comprehensive plan with a list of priorities ... Government will be in a position to be fully confident in investing in the scale of that plan.

He also stated that he would "expect to see a definitive, total project site plan in no more than three months." I told him I would hold him to that. That was more than three months ago. Has progress been made? Is a definitive date likely to be set with regard to the plans for University Hospital Galway?

When I was out and about at the weekend, I met a lady who was evidently unwell but who was in relative good humour in spite of that. She told me she is undergoing cancer treatment. I expressed my sympathy and wished her well in her course of treatment. She then went on to say that she had spent seven days on a trolley in Galway. Another individual who was present stated that they spent nine days on a trolley. The lady to whom I refer was not giving out, but, to be honest, she would have every right to do so. She had every right to eat me if she wanted. She did not. She thanked me for other things, but that was her journey as someone undergoing cancer treatment.

Cancer patients still have to go through emergency departments. There is no separation in Galway, hence the need for the comprehensive plans. We need additional beds, the cancer centre, a new emergency department and paediatric and maternity services. Bernard Gloster is on record as saying too much time has been lost on debates back and forth between Merlin Park and University Hospital Galway and on options and appraisals. That was the greatest waste of money and, more importantly, time. There was a debate about a new €4 billion hospital to be built at Merlin Park. That was never feasible. All this has done for Galway is caused delays. It has caused delays and frustration in respect of the delivery of projects we all know we need. It is back and forth. What are we going to do? Will we build it in one place or the other? Ultimately, we are building very little. We have the state-of-the-art radiation and oncology building that was opened last November. We have the 75-bed ward from a number of years ago that some people also opposed. We have a massive need for capital investment in Galway. In that context, I want to see the plans progressing.


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