It could be January at the earliest before the proposed temporary operating theatres are working at Merlin Park Hospital.

We met with the Minister, consultants from Merlin Park, and officials from the HSE last week. There is a major problem with the building as was widely reported. The HSE and the Minister have agreed to install two temporary operating theatres however even if everything goes according to plan it will be January 2018 at the earliest before they are operational.

It is worrying that when we asked as to what was the situation with regard to planning that no straight answer could be given and if these temporary operating theatres are subject to the planning process then January 2018 is not a realistic target date for them to come into use. There are also plans to open another ward at the University Hospital in Galway this week and we are awaiting word as to whether private hospitals will be allocating theatre space to the patents who are missing out in Merlin Park at the moment.

There is no quick fix solution for this problem and it is a fact that there are people who are in serious pain and in need of operations. However, it was very encouraging to observe the positive attitude of the consultants who want to do everything they can to ease the situation for the patients concerned. I hope that the HSE do not put stumbling blocks in their way, and I will be following this up as a matter of extreme urgency in the coming months.

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