"We can do better," GP's concern about elective hospital plans for Cork

"We can do better," GP's concern about elective hospital plans for Cork

LOCAL GP, Dr John Sheehan said that plans for the city's new elective hospital are part of a 'one size fits all" approach to healthcare with little emphasis on the individual issues affecting patients in the Cork area.

A LOCAL GP said that plans for the city's new elective hospital are part of a "one size fits all" approach to healthcare with little emphasis on the individual issues affecting patients in the Cork area.

Dr John Sheehan from Blackpool Bridge Surgery was referring to plans for a new facility that will carry out high volume, low complexity procedures on a day and outpatient basis. It is hoped that the development will take pressure off acute hospitals and in turn, reduce patient waiting lists. However, the GP, who is also a Fianna Fáil councillor, said that what is needed is a merging of hospitals to enhance health services in the city 

"Sláintecare is proposing standalone hospitals for Cork, Dublin and Galway," he said. 

"However, this is a one size fits all approach rather than one that takes into account the individual needs of each location and that's the concern. If you need your hip done you're still going to have to go to the South Infirmary. This is a good opportunity to have a standalone elective hospital combining services from the South and the Mercy.

"What we want is a hospital that can facilitate all those tasks rather than adding a day hospital where you can't do a lot of those procedures. Within the HSE, Sláintecare and the Department of Health, there seem to be different approaches. That's not a good way to have a planning system."

He said that the hospital should be able to relieve under-pressure frontline workers dealing with long waiting lists.

"If you are only going to be doing day surgeries then that limits the complexities of the operations that can be carried out. Ideally, we want a standalone elective hospital where we can take certain services out of CUH, the Mercy and the South Infirmary. 

Dr. John Sheehan. Picture Dan Linehan
Dr. John Sheehan. Picture Dan Linehan

"This means we need a more fit for purpose centre where operations aren't being cancelled because of a lack of beds. We can do better than this. We are getting a once in a generation opportunity. These things take time. However, if we don't get an elective hospital now our chances of getting one in the next 10 or 20 years are very slim."

Dr Sheehan said he is seeing the negative impact of waiting lists on his patients firsthand.

"This is putting so much stress on the patient because they are constantly in pain and on lots of medication they ideally don't want to be taking. When they are suffering with these kinds of health issues the mobility that kept them active is no longer there. This in turn results in rehabilitation taking a lot longer. 

"It's frustrating for people who are having to looking into other options like the Cross Border Healthcare directive. GPs are constantly trying to write letters and advocate for the patient. That's the reality."

He stressed that healthcare needs to adapt as the population increases.

"Staff in the orthopaedic services are dedicated but capacity really hasn't changed in the last 20 years. In the next two decades, our population is set to double. We need a standalone elective hospital which is fit for purpose that provides services such as knee replacements and hip replacements with intensive rehabilitation. 

"Increased capacity in terms of theatre and theatre slots is also extremely important. If there are theatre slots with the potential for only two hip surgeries a day then that's your limiting factor. Increased capacity to do these procedures means we can try to get people back in the community as soon as we can."

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