It will be the end of this year, at the earliest, before modular operating theatres are put in place at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway to tackle the backlog of patients waiting for surgery.

The existing orthopaedic theatre will then be closed, once the new modular theatres open.

That's according to information provided at yesterday's meeting of the HSE West Regional Forum in Galway.

The issue was raised again by Galway-based FG Councillor Padraig Conneely, who questioned the delay in providing the modular theatres - which were promised when two theatres at Merlin Park Hospital had to close over 18 months ago due to leaks in the roof.

One theatre has since reopened, but two modular theatres - which were promised for orthopaedic procedures - have not yet been delivered on, after the project ran into some difficulties.

Councillors were told at yesterday's meeting that, if planning permission is granted, the new modular theatres will be completed within 9 months.

The planning application for the modular theatres was described as "a hames" by Councillor Conneely.

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