John R Higgins, professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and clinical director of the Maternity Directorate South/Southwest Hospital Group, said he has serious concerns relating to “the growing risk to women on this inpatient waiting list,” and emphasised the serious implications of delays.
New figures revealed that in the last 12 months the numbers of women awaiting surgery increased from 545 on May 30 of last year to 1,041 on June 7 of this year.
“We know time delays in operating on these women can have serious implications. There is a risk of cancers and other serious conditions developing or worsening as patients wait over a long period of time for surgery,” Professor Higgins said in a reply to Cork TD Michael McGrath, who had raised the matter in the Dáil.
There had been demands made for the opening of an idle operating theatre at CUMH that has remained empty ever since the hospital opened in 2007.
"We have an idle theatre in the CUMH which if funded to open could more than double our throughput of patients each week and help reduce the increasing number of women waiting to be operated on and eliminate the unacceptable long waiting times.
“In May of this year, we updated our Business Case for the opening the second Gynaecology Theatre and resubmitted this to the Minister for approval.
We, in CUMH wait in hope and expectation that the funding signed off by Minister Harris in the 2017 Gynaecology Business Case will arrive in 2019, allowing us to open the second theatre which has been lying idle since the CUMH opened in 2007.” Fianna Fail Deputy Michael McGrath emphasised the need for action adding:
“The bottom line is Minister Harris signed off on the CUMH Gynaecology Business Case back in 2017 but has yet to confirm the funding to enable the second operating theatre to be opened. While I very much welcome the great progress that has been achieved by all the staff in reducing the gynaecology outpatient waiting list, the full value of this will not be realised if the women are then left languishing on an inpatient surgery waiting list.” He described the failure to open a second operating theatre as "a scandal."
“Arising from the activity in reducing the outpatient waiting list, we can see that the number of women waiting for gynaecology surgery has doubled in the past year and now stands at over 1,000,” he said. “It is a scandal that the Minister is allowing the second operating theatre to remain idle while women are waiting on the list for vital surgery. I will continue to press this issue with the Minister and the HSE.”