Thursday, 26 May 2022
Department of Health
Healthcare Infrastructure Provision
83. To ask the Minister for Health if he and or the HSE have received a proposal from the University Limerick Hospital Group for the provision of an elective only hospital unit; if so, the timeframe for this proposal to be assessed by his Department and the various units and committees of the HSE before being assessed by the Public Spending Code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26410/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 83 together.
The Cross Party Sláintecare Report in 2017 articulated a new vision for healthcare in Ireland, including the provision of elective only hospitals, providing protected capacity for elective care. The “Elective Hospitals Oversight Group”, under the joint governance of the Department of Health and HSE has been guiding the development of the elective hospital proposals, following the process outlined in the updated Public Spending Code, setting out the value for money requirements for the evaluation, planning, and management of large public investment projects.
The provision of additional protected capacity for elective care is further confirmed by the Government Decision, in December 2021 and subject to the necessary approvals and requirements under the Public Spending Code being met, on a new National Elective Ambulatory Care Strategy. This new strategy aims to change the way in which day case, scheduled procedures, surgeries, scans and outpatient services can be better arranged to ensure greater capacity in the future and help to address waiting lists. The development of additional capacity will be provided through dedicated, standalone Elective Hospitals in Cork, Galway and Dublin. The Government decision is very clear on this. No other locations are under active consideration. It is important to note that the locations chosen will allow for new facilities of a size and scale to implement a national elective care programme that will tackle waiting lists on a national basis. This means that the new facilities will be designed to maximise their capacity and in doing so will operate to cover as a wide catchment area as possible, extending beyond existing and future health areas including the mid-west.
The elective care scope of service will be developed in two phases commencing with day cases, diagnostics, and outpatients and then by in-patient treatment. On this basis, the Elective Care Centres (ECCs) will be designed to provide sufficient capacity to facilitate future phases, including some elective in patient capacity, thereby providing a sustainable and strategic response to cater for the highly dynamic landscape of healthcare policy and practice.
With respect to a specific proposal for an elective only hospital in the mid-west region, a submission was made to the HSE National Capital and Property Steering Committee in 2018 for the St John’s 120 bed proposal, and the proposal was considered by the Committee at that time and has been on the agenda since. However, substantial queries on the submission were raised by the Committee. As the proposal does not align with the recently approved Government Policy for National Elective Ambulatory Care Strategy, it is not in the approved project pipeline and has not been included in HSE Capital Plan.