It could be years before there is even a sign of a solution to Galway’s hospital crisis.
Because while health officials have conceded that the long-awaited new Emergency Department for UHG is at least five years away, so too any proposal for a new hospital on the grounds of Merlin Park would appear to be years into the distance.
The only positive news this week was that work has commenced on a design brief for a three-storey elective surgery unit at Merlin Park, which would be the first phase in the development of a new hospital on the 147-acre site.
The new building will incorporate a specialised endoscopy unit, an orthopaedic theatre complex, and facilities for day surgery.
Plans for the development were presented to Health Minister Simon Harris at a meeting with hospital management this week, which has been organised by Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton.
But on the broader picture, Saolta has now admitted there is unlikely to be substantial progress made on the replacement ED facility in the short-term.
The revelation was made at a meeting between Saolta University Healthcare Group, which comprise seven West of Ireland hospitals including UHG, and officials from Galway City Council.
Minutes of the meeting were released to the Connacht Tribune following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
The latest HSE West Regional Health Forum heard that the appointment of the design team hasn’t yet taken place. It was due to be appointed this October, with a design brief expected in the first quarter of 2018.
The minutes released under FOI suggest Saolta don’t expect a new ED to be operational until about 2022.
See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.