AS HE launched a €210 million plan to expand St John’s Hospital in Limerick City, Bishop Brendan Leahy said that the Irish healthcare system cannot rely on other countries to solve the hospital waiting list crisis.
This follows last week’s announcement that a new hospital opened in Spain is to be used for treating patients on long public waiting lists in Ireland.
The hospital in Alicante is part of a major new healthcare agreement, where patients are to be treated under the EU Cross Border Directive, with the HSE covering the price of treatment up to the cost it would be in Ireland, but not the patients travel or private expenses.
Bishop Brendan Leahy, who is Chair of the Board of St John’s, said: “The future generations are calling us here today to do what we can to ensure that they won’t have to travel to Galway or Cork, or indeed Spain, to receive sheduled surgery and the excellent care possible in a newly energized St John’s.”
Management at the hospital, which was founded in 1780, unveiled a five-year expansion strategy on Monday which includes a 150-bed on site extension “to ensure best-in-class care delivered at the hospital is matched by state-of-the -art facilities”.
St John’s chief executive, Emer Martin, said the facilities at the hospital are simply not fit for the purpose or the people it serves.
The plan, developed by the UL Hospitals Group in consultation with staff and local GPs, is seen as playing a “key role in addressing capacity requirements in the Mid-West.
“The proposal addresses the necessary capacity requirement to tackle public waiting lists by accommodating a very significant proportion of the scheduled care work in the region, and it provides solutions to the critical needs associated with the public waiting lists.”
“St John’s already has the sixth busiest endoscopy list and the twelfth busiest elective surgery list as well as the second busiest injury unit in the country.”
“Among the strategy priorities identified in the consultation process are the development of a new modern €60 million facility complete with increased single ensuite rooms, greater access to services, development of services for the management of chronic diseases and provision of seven-day injury unit services.”
The proposed development will increase St John’s bed capacity from 89 to 200 and aims to deliver an additional 31,390 bed days a year.
According to the five-year plan, “it will also deliver a safer patient environment, increase in-patient access by 150 percent, and provide an overall improvement in patient experience as well as staff working experience”.
667 additional direct and indirect full time equivalent jobs are proposed, including 52 new frontline clinician and support roles at the hospital, which presently employs 350 staff.
If approved, the development will take an estimated 36 months to complete.