A CORK TD has said that the Irish Hospital Consultants Association’s (IHCA) suggestion to increase elective capacity at existing hospitals “is going to be a difficult challenge”.
Fine Gael’s spokesperson for health Colm Burke was speaking following the publication of the IHCA’s pre-budget submission earlier this week.
During a meeting ahead of the publication, IHCA vice-president Professor Robert Landers said that while the Sláintecare plan does propose three elective hospitals, “it’s not a concept that we support”.
“Quite frankly, we don’t think it’s going to work from a number of perspectives. It’s going to be very difficult to build elective hospitals of that scale. We’re also concerned about the type of procedures going to be provided in those hospitals and we understand that there would be no overnight care which is going to strictly limit the type of procedures available.”
Prof Landers said that the elective hospitals will not have certain facilities such as intensive care units which he said will limit the type of patients that can attend those hospitals.
“We are just concerned about building stand-alone elective hospitals at such limited geographical sites. It doesn’t serve the needs of the country.
“We would instead propose that the department should look at increasing elective capacity at existing sites where you already have a capital of consultants and other health professionals on-site and build protective elective capacity across the State instead of three stand-alone elective hospitals,” he said.
However, speaking to The Echo, Mr Burke said there would be challenges in building capacity at existing hospitals.
Mr Burke said there have been “no additional beds created” to deal with Cork’s increasing population and that “the way of fast-tracking is by building an elective hospital in a very short timeframe”.
He added: “I do accept that we also need to know how we can build back up capacity in our hospitals because there is a challenge there.
“We need to try and build back up more day-care procedures, therefore, in a lot of cases, consultants still need access to theatre and how we can better utilise the facilities we have but the issue about putting more beds into existing hospitals is going to be a difficult challenge.”
Mr Burke also said that the issue in relation to overnight beds in elective hospitals isn’t decided.
"We have been strongly pushing for overnight beds, so that there would be beds for people to stay in.
“An elective hospital is the way forward. It is about being constructive on this.”