Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Hospital Facilities

10:30 am

Photo of Martin HeydonMartin Heydon (Kildare South, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Senator Kyne for raising this important issue. It is important to put the first-hand story of his constituent's experience on the record of House. What he outlined is not good enough. I am giving this response on behalf of the Minister for Health, who, unfortunately, cannot be here.

The Minister and his officials have visited the University Hospital Galway campus on a number of occasions over the past year. The Minister recognises the need for additional capital investment in the facilities at University Hospital Galway and wants to reassure Senator Kyne and others that there is a clear pathway forward to achieve this. There are a number of significant capital investment projects proposed for the campus, which include an emergency department, a women and children’s block, a regional cancer centre and replacement laboratories. These proposals are of significant scale. An integrated approach is required to ensure that any works do not adversely impact the ongoing delivery of healthcare on the congested campus. To progress this as effectively and as efficiently as possible, the Department of Health agreed to the establishment of the University Hospital Galway programme oversight board. The oversight board is chaired by the CEO of the Saolta Hospital Group.Its initial focus is on the development of an integrated strategic master plan for UHG to support the phased delivery of capital investment there. To support the oversight board, a dedicated programme manager has been sanctioned by the HSE's CEO. This role is currently being advertised and the closing date for interested parties is next week. The work of the oversight board will leverage the work carried out to date on the three separate significant proposals for the campus.

While originally a new emergency department was proposed for Galway due to service-led demands it now incorporates new maternity and pediatric departments. An interim ED was developed and opened in October 2022, as Senator Kyne will be aware. It includes additional resuscitation spaces, support accommodation and improved infection prevention and control measures. This work will also serve as enabling works for the larger new ED, women and children's departments proposals. The project team and oversight board have been tasked with enhancing the strategic assessment report-preliminary business case, SAR-PBC - there are an awful lot of acronyms in my response - for the ED and women and children's block to ensure it meets the standards required for the external reviews required under the infrastructural guidelines which have replaced the public spending code. It will also ensure it appropriately captures the important work of the oversight board to ensure the successful delivery of the new investment at the UHG campus.

With regard to the proposals for the replacement laboratories and the regional cancer centre, the Department of Health has provided comprehensive feedback on what the project team and oversight board need to do to advance these proposals. Incorporation of this feedback will ensure that robust business cases are developed to support the important capital investment in the Galway campus. Much investment is needed in the facilities of University Hospital Galway to support the staff there to continue to deliver the high standard of care patients and their families expect and deserve. A clear process is under way to deliver that much-needed investment in Galway. Again, I thank Senator Kyne for raising these important points today.


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