A site for the new Cork hospital is to be selected by the end of this year, according to the Sláintecare Action Plan 2019.
The new elective-only hospital will be aimed at reducing the number of people on waiting lists for procedures and will deal only with elective surgery and appointments.
It has been more than a year since Tanaiste Simon Coveney said he would like to see a site established for the new Cork hospital and there had been widespread silence on the project.
However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health told The Echo that “the Sláintecare Action Plan 2019 includes a commitment that the criteria for ambulatory/elective sites will be determined by the end of this year”.
“The National Development Plan 2018-2027 outlines that new dedicated ambulatory/elective-only hospital facilities will be delivered in Dublin, Cork and Galway to tackle waiting lists and provide access to diagnostic services.” The committee tasked with selecting the site for the new hospital met earlier this year for the first time.
Concerns have been raised, however, over the lack of Cork representatives on this committee, which, according to sources, is largely made up of HSE representatives.
Cork Senator Colm Burke has called for Cork institutions such as City and County Hall, as well as UCC, to be allowed greater input on the project.
He said that failure to include large stakeholders and public representatives in Cork would be a “mistake”.
He also cited reasons for the inclusion of healthcare professionals.
“This should be involving all the big parties here in Cork including University College Cork, Cork University Hospital, the councils, because they’re all key players,” said Senator Burke.
“I’m anxious that the project would proceed but I believe strongly that in deciding upon this, there should be a consultation process with the city council, county council, UCC and more.
“All of these organisations can decide together on the most suitable site,” he added.
“We need to have a planned approach for all services, particularly as the service develops.
“The only way you can do that is to ensure that a consultation process takes place before the site is identified.” Senator Burke said it is crucial that these stakeholders are consulted as soon as possible.
“If stakeholders can get broad agreement on where the site should be, we can progress the project faster,” he added.