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Two operating theatres at Merlin Park University Hospital were forced to close last September, resulting in the cancellation of elective orthopaedic surgery.
National Treatment Purchase fund (NTPF) figures for inpatients waiting to be treated at the end of December show that there were over 1,000 individuals awaiting orthopaedic care at Galway University Hospitals (GUH).
The figure is a significant increase compared to waiting times for orthopaedic inpatients at the hospitals at the end of October, which totalled 765. GUH comprises University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital.
Elective orthopaedic procedures have been significantly reduced because of the closures, with an average of 60 patients treated weekly before the shut-down.
A spokesperson for the Saolta University Healthcare Group said that repair work has been completed and that a full technical report on the work undertaken is awaited.
“We are also getting an independent clinical assessment of the theatres to assess if they are safe for use,” said the spokesperson.
“We are continuing to work towards restoring the full elective orthopaedic service as quickly as possible. We have received tenders for a modular building, which would house orthopaedic theatres on the Merlin Park site and those tenders are currently in an evaluation process.
“An updated brief for a day services/orthopaedics theatres/endoscopy unit project on the Merlin Park University Hospital site, which is a key priority for GUH, is currently being finalised for submission to the National Capital Steering Committee for approval. This development will provide capacity from the medium-to-long term.
“We have had to significantly reduce the number of elective orthopaedic patients we can treat until the service can be fully restored. Previously, an average of 60 patients weekly were treated; we are currently undertaking a proportion of these procedures weekly in University Hospital Galway and theatre one in Merlin Park.”