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Outcome of Options Appraisal process for future development of hospital services in Galway and Regional Elective Hospital Scoping Study

The Saolta University Health Care Group today published the outcome of the options appraisal process undertaken to identify the most appropriate way to proceed with the future development of hospital services in Galway to enable the delivery of the best possible outcomes for patients across the West and North West of Ireland.

The process involved an extensive external assessment and options appraisal process conducted by KPMG /AECOM and Scott Tallon Walker Architects. This included an in-depth analysis of existing infrastructure on both the University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Merlin Park University Hospital (MPUH) sites with a detailed study of current and future demand for both local and specialist health service requirements in the region.

Commenting Saolta Group CEO Tony Canavan stated, “The options appraisal process concluded that the preferred longer term option for the Model 4 hospital to allow it adequately meet the needs of the very large geographic region it serves is to develop a new fit-for-purpose 1,150 bed acute hospital on the Merlin Park University Hospital site. The Model 4 hospital will lead to improvements in the health of over 800,000 people across the West/North West of Ireland serving patients from Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim as well as Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. It will provide treatment options closer to home to the 14,000 patients who travel to Dublin every year and is fundamental to the efficient patient flow and regional access from other Saolta hospitals.”

Dr Pat Nash, Saolta Group Chief Clinical Director added, “We made the decision to undertake this very detailed and complex analysis to ensure that the West and North West region has a Model 4 hospital that meets best practice standards both now and into the future, to enable delivery of the best possible outcomes for our patients. The recommendation to develop a new acute hospital on the Merlin Park site followed a comprehensive analysis of current facilities which determined that the majority of infrastructure across both sites was unacceptable to provide the models of care that will be necessary in the future. Specifically, 64% and 95% of the infrastructure in UHG and MPUH respectively is ‘not satisfactory / unacceptable’ for its current function. The options appraisal process also included a detailed demand and capacity analysis including an assessment of the current demand for services and the projected future demand to 2031. It concluded that even with significant support from primary care and implementing ambitious efficiency targets, given Galway University Hospitals’ status as the tertiary referral for the region and its status as the regional cancer centre, significant growth is forecast between now and 2031.”

Elective Hospital

As part of the options appraisal process a Regional Elective Hospital Scoping Study for the development of a Regional Elective Hospital in Galway was also undertaken.   This outlines capacity, including the infrastructural requirements, necessary to develop an elective hospital which will serve the wider region. This is one of the key health projects approved by Government in the Project Ireland 2040 plan published last year and the HSE Capital Plan published in 2019. The Scoping Study concludes that the most appropriate location for a regional elective hospital is also on the Merlin Park University Hospital site.

The report concludes that a new elective hospital located on the Merlin Park site will significantly improve patient access to elective care by reducing waiting times and cancellations.  It will allow the Saolta Group significantly increase the level of day surgery it provides and reduce length of stay for patients in line with best international practice. Separating acute and non-acute services through the development of a purpose-built elective facility will also greatly improve efficiency. In addition, increasing capacity will enable Galway University Hospitals significantly reduce its waiting lists; by segregating GUH’s elective capacity it would ensure that all elective care would be scheduled and not impacted by emergency or acute patients from across the Saolta region.

Procedures in the new elective hospital will be high volume, low-to-medium complexity surgeries which can be efficiently planned as the procedure time is predictable and dedicated theatres provided.

This elective hospital will accommodate elective medical admissions, diagnostics including endoscopy services and ambulatory care. 

  • It will optimise the rates of day surgery in line with best practice.
  • As a regional hub and one of three elective hospitals nationally (the other two located in Dublin and Cork) it would also be in a position to provide care to a broader catchment than the current Saolta region.
  • The development of an elective hospital on the MPUH site would form the first phase of achieving the longer term vision of the Acute Hospital on this site.  This will result in a health campus that would provide the necessary secondary care to the people of Galway city and county and complex/tertiary care to patients across the region. It would provide patients living in the West and North West of Ireland access to 21st century facilities and the accommodation necessary to meet future demand.

Developments required on UHG site in short to medium term

Tony Canavan Saolta CEO said, “The Group is cognisant of the long lead in time required for the development of health infrastructure of this scale and in the interim, there is a crucial need for work to continue on the progression of a number of approved infrastructural developments on the UHG site including the new Emergency Department (ED) development, the new Radiation Oncology facility and the redevelopment of the Blood and Tissue Laboratory. These developments are essential given UHG’s designation as a supra-regional cancer centre.”

Commenting, Chris Kane General Manager Galway University Hospital stated, “The options appraisal process also identified a number of immediate critical developments required on the UHG site. The most immediate priority on the UHG site is to progress towards the build of the new ED approved capital project and we are in discussions with the HSE to incorporate a new Women’s and Children’s unit on the upper floors.  The options appraisal also recommended development of new pathology laboratory facilities and new cancer facilities. The new cancer facilities, including an Ambulatory Cancer Care Centre, will allow the hospital to provide new rapid access clinics and replace existing substandard day ward and outpatient facilities many of which were constructed in the 1950s and do not meet standards required to deliver a modern cancer service.  These interim priority developments are necessary to address current inadequate facilities and allow us some flexibility in decanting the UHG site over time. They are also critical given that the new acute hospital development would be anticipated to take at least 15 years and they will ensure that the Group can provide a safe and quality service to patients in the region in the interim.”

Tony Canavan CEO, added, “The options appraisal report highlighted the critical importance of continuing to develop capacity across the other hospitals in the Saolta Group and we will continue to progress a number of critical infrastructure developments across the Group. In Sligo University Hospital work will shortly begin on site for the development of a new Diabetes Centre, and we will continue to progress the new 48 bed ward development there. In Portiuncula University Hospital we have gone to tender for the enabling works to build the new 50 bed ward block and work will begin on site in PUH in early 2020 with an anticipated completion date of 2022. In Letterkenny University Hospital the post-flood rebuild is now complete and the hospital will shortly begin the planning work required for the development of a new Renal Unit. Additional bed capacity is also required in Mayo University Hospital and we are currently at the planning stage for the development of that. Work is continuing in the development of the new Rehabilitation Unit in Roscommon University Hospital.”

Concluding Dr Pat Nash stated, “We have already engaged with Sláintecare with regard to the development of the Elective Hospital Project and we will continue that process of engagement with them, the Department of Health and the HSE nationally. These developments are critical to ensure the people of the West and North West have the highest standards of care into the future.”

Options Appraisal Report

Regional Elective Hospital Scoping Study




The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
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