A Cork TD has raised concerns about a potential delay to the opening of the new ophthalmology theatre at South Infirmary-Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH).
Fine Gael’s Spokesperson on Health Colm Burke learned on Monday that the transfer of the ophthalmology services from Cork University Hospital (CUH) to SIVUH is not going to take place until the funding is provided for a consultant ophthalmology surgeon.
SIVUH had been chosen as the location for a regional department of ophthalmology that would see the Ophthalmology Outpatients Department (OPD) and Eye Casualty at CUH and the OPD from Mercy University Hospital transfer to a new Ophthalmology OPD and Eye Casualty building at SIVUH.
Deputy Burke said the Chief Executive of the South Infirmary and the CEO of the South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG) Gerry O’Dwyer, who stepped down from his position earlier this week, have been putting pressure on the HSE for funding to be sanctioned.
Deputy Burke raised his concerns during Topical Issues in the Dáil on Thursday evening which was dealt with by Minister of State with Responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan.
In a response on behalf of the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Deputy Burke was told the HSE had advised that approval for an additional Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon post is being examined in the context of the funding available in 2023 in order to further expand the current service.
“Is being examined means it could be still being examined this time next year,” Deputy Burke told The Echo.
We’ve built a brand new ophthalmology unit and two new theatres in the South Infirmary and there is one piece of equipment we’re waiting on for one of the theatres but that should be in on December 15 so we’re ready to roll with the service by January and now we have a HSE delay going on.
“My understanding is once the funding is announced that there won’t be any problems with the transfer over and the appointment itself will take some time still because once the funding is approved it’s then advertised and then has to go through the interview process but at the moment we don’t even have the funding.”
Deputy Burke said he is particularly concerned about the delay at a time when there is “such a backlog in ophthalmology”.
“We need to get this opened in mid to late January at the latest.
“The proposal for the theatres was more or less signed off on by the HSE back in January 2021 but it took a further eight or nine months until contracts were entered into.
“We understood we would have it ready for the end of December 2021 and now we’re another 12 months and this could very well add another six months,” he said.