Cork hospital calls for €5m funding for gynaecological theatre

Second theatre critical to cutting 4,200 waiting list for gynaecological procedures

Minister for Health Simon Harris is on Thursday going to be asked by consultants at Cork University Maternity Hospital to provide €5 million in funding. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Health Simon Harris is on Thursday going to be asked by consultants at Cork University Maternity Hospital to provide €5 million in funding. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris is on Thursday going to be asked by consultants at Cork University Maternity Hospital to provide €5 million in funding to open a second gynaecological operating theatre that has never been used for gynaecological procedures since the hospital opened in 2006.

Minister Harris is due to visit CUMH on Thursday afternoon as part of a series of visits to hospitals in Cork and consultant gynaecologists and obstetricians are due to raise a series of issues with him which has led to more than 4,000 women waiting for gynaecological procedures at the hospital.

Consultant Gynaecologist/Obstetrician and Director of Gynaecology at CUMH, Dr Cathy Burke said that consultants would be seeking funding for four specific items at CUMH which would cost a once off capital outlay of €2.1 million and a current spend thereafter of €2 million annually.

Dr Burke said consultants were seeking the opening of an existing second gynaecological theatre at CUHM which has never been used for gynaecological procedures despite being part of a plan that the hospital would operate two identical theatres for patients requiring gynaecological procedures.

“Our first gynae theatre is only operating four days a week, our second gynae theatre has been idle as a gynaecological theatre for ten years- these are two state of the art theatres, identically kitted out for gynaecological work and one of them has not opened for gynaecological work for ten years.

“We would need five to six theatre nurses to fully staff one theatre as well as portering staff and health care assistant complements and we are looking for four additional consultants in order to run two theatres five days a week and use the capacity that’s available.”

Dr Burke explained that there are currently some 4,365 women on CUMH’s gynaecological outpatient waiting list awaiting procedures and of these over 40per cent are waiting more than 12 months with over 20 per cent waiting for more than 18 months.

CUMH caters for a population of 250,000 women and the 1,700 waiting more than 12 months is the equivalent of the entire waiting list for University Hospital Galway while the 800 waiting more than 18 month is the equivalent of the entire waiting list at Wexford University Hospital.

‘Undiagnosed malignancies’

“Women are presenting with a variety of problems- heavy menstrual bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, prolapsed of the uterus - and they are having to wait 12- 18 months and are turning up at our emergency rooms seeking to be admitted,” she told The Irish Times.

“Some people are taking out loans to get treated privately because there is absolutely no hope of them being seen in any sort of timely fashion in the public system - we are going to have women turning up with undiagnosed malignancies because they have been waiting so long.”

Dr Burke explained that among the other facilities which are required to help reduce the waiting lists is a one stop shop earmarked for development in Phase 2 of the Reconfiguration of Gynaecological Cancer services in Cork but there has been no mention of the project with three years.

Consultants will also make the case to Minister Harris for a gynaecological day unit within the hospital which would provide more beds which would allow the second theatre to become operational five days a week, 12 hours a day.

There are currently 17 consultants working at CUMH who divide their time between obstetrics and gynaecology but with their academic and research work, it works out that there are the equivalent of just four Whole Time Equivalent Consultant Gynaecologists, she said.

Dr Burke said there had been no new consultant gynaecologists appointed at CUMH in ten years with only one locum due to join the staff later this year for six months whereas four new consultant gynaecologists are needed to cut the waiting list which has grown by 42 per cent in the last seven years.