1500 people across this region are currently waiting for orthopaedic surgery at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway.
The figures were confirmed in a letter to Minister Simon Harris and copied to local deputies last week, from a consultant surgeon at the hospital. The letter set out clearly that 1500 people are waiting for complex joint replacements, spinal surgery, foot, ankle and shoulder surgery and that the waiting list continues to expand.
In September 2017, two theatres were forced to close at the hospital because of leaks in the ceiling. Between that time and now Independent Galway Deputy Catherine Connolly said she has lost count of the number of times she has raised the issue in the Dáil.
She says that she has a file of responses confirming that modular theatres would be provided as a matter of urgency and in the intervening period alternative arrangements would be made for patients.
In May 2018 Saolta confirmed that service had been restored on 21st March 2018 through the provision of one theatre at Merlin Park.
The latest update from Saolta on 20th November, 2018, fourteen months later, was that the hospital had gone to tender for a modular theatre facility which would provide two replacement theatres and facilitate 20 sessions per week. That update also confirmed that the impact of the closures has been that one third fewer elective operating cases have taken place in the region.
Deputy Connolly told Midwest News today that it is completely unacceptable that no progress appears to have been made in delivering modular theatres almost a year and a half after the initial closure.