A TARGET to double the operating hours at Bantry General Hospital has been set by West Cork TD and junior health minister Jim Daly.
The plan to increase the service in the operating theatre, from two-and-a-half days to five days a week, is one of a number of objectives that Minister Daly has put on record.
The Minister for Mental Health and Older People also wants to see the rehabilitation accommodation at the hospital improved.
And the third objective is to upgrade the hospital’s endoscopy unit, with a view to having Bantry General considered as part of the national bowel screening programme.
Minister Daly said the cost of carrying out these three upgrades could be in the region of €5m, but said they would be carried out on ‘a phased basis.’
He said a substantial portion of the works could be included in the capital programme, which will be agreed early next year.
‘I will leave no stone unturned in my bid to secure funding for the additional capital infrastructure required,’ said the Fine Gael TD, ‘because a hospital providing first class care deserves the very best of infrastructure to complement the care provided by its staff.’
Following the appointment of Mr Akbar Amin Achakzai, consultant surgeon, on November 20th, Carole Croke, the manager of Bantry General Hospital said: ‘We are looking at the possibility of rolling out a five-day theatre service, which would be facilitated by consultants from the CUH working on a rotation basis.’
The hospital manager also confirmed that a submission to upgrade the endoscopy and rehabilitation services has been made, but she said this is dependent on capital funding.
Minister Jim Daly confirmed that he attended a series of meetings with HSE and Health Department officials, as well as members of the hospital’s management team, since he was made a Minister of State at the Department of Health in June.
The minister described the operating theatre at Bantry General Hospital as ‘state-of-the-art’ but he maintained it should be utilised more.
‘It makes absolutely no sense to have a theatre in Bantry idle for half of the week when there are people all over West Cork experiencing lengthy waiting times for procedures in the city. And, in this regard, Bantry General Hospital could play its part in dealing with the overcrowding at our city hospitals.’
Minister Daly said the senior medical team at the hospital, the management and the HSE have taken ‘a constructive and proactive approach in helping the hospital reach its full potential as a major player in the South West.’