St Mary's services to move


HSE CHIEF executive Prof Brendan Drumm has confirmed that orthopaedic surgery will be transferred from St Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital in Cork but he has insisted that no decision has been taken yet as how the service will be allocated to other hospitals in the city.

Prof Drumm said he didn't believe that anyone could argue that St Mary's was "a realistic site on which to continue to provide isolated orthopaedic services" and a review on the provision of such services in Cork was currently under way.

Originally opened as a fever hospital in July 1955, St Mary's in Gurranebraher is a specialist 125-bed hospital serving Cork and Kerry.

The hospital provides orthopaedic services for patients requiring joint replacement and other complex elective orthopaedic surgery with joint replacement, arthroscopic surgery and minor orthopaedic procedures all being performed in the theatre complex.

There were no elective orthopaedic surgeries carried out in Cork University Hospital (CUH) last year (2007). Only trauma orthopaedic surgeries were carried out at the hospital.

Regarding St Mary's, approximately 3,110 elective orthopaedic surgeries were carried out in the hospital in 2007.

However, Prof Drumm said that the whole structure of orthopaedic services in Cork needed to be examined and the decision to move orthopaedic surgery from St Mary's did not automatically mean that all orthopaedic services would be centralised at CUH.

"When you look at the services in Cork city, we have to look at what's going on at Cork University Hospital, the South Infirmary and the Mercy and we need to bring them into an organised structure and ensure we're not duplicating things," he said.

"That means when orthopaedic services move we have to look at them in that context . . . the whole reconfiguration of services between the Mercy, South Infirmary and CUH needs to be planned in the context of where work from St Mary's goes."

A HSE spokesman explained that some seven orthopaedic consultants work within the division which operates across both CUH and St Mary's with three of these consultants operating on a locum basis following the retirement of two consultants.

One permanent orthopaedic consultant post had recently been advertised and a recruitment process had commenced for a second post, he said, adding that the HSE was currently reviewing orthopaedic elective surgery and plastic elective surgery at St Mary's.

However, Cllr Mick Barry of the Campaign for a Real Public Health Service which held a meeting about the issue last night, expressed strong opposition to any plan to move orthopaedic services from St Mary's.

"Our campaign does not accept the views of Prof Drumm on this matter and there is no way that the HSE will be able to implement such a strategy without strong opposition both from the 237-strong workforce and the surrounding communities."