A full five months after the last bus went to Belfast, 12 people left West Cork last weekend to have their cataracts removed under the European Cross Border Directive.
Independent TD Michael Collins confirmed that a further 10 people will be travelling to the Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast this Saturday and Sunday to have the sight-saving surgery.
On Wednesday, the prospective patients travelled to the MyCorkGP clinic in Ballinlough in Cork to be swab-tested for Covid-19, which is a prerequisite before travelling to Kingsbridge.
Deputy Collins said ‘during the lockdown people began to worry that they’d never get the chance to have their cataracts removed under the Cross Border Directive, so it was with enormous relief that Danny Healy Rae and I are, once again, able to provide the service and can safely send bus number 55 this weekend.’
The TD confirmed that there are about 140 people on his list for the Belfast bus and that they will, as a result, be running numerous buses over the coming weeks and months.
‘Finding a medical centre in Cork to take the Covid-19 swab tests proved vital to the resumption of the service, because hospitals will not take admissions unless they have been first tested for the coronavirus,’ said the TD.
‘Because patients have to be referred by a doctor we ran into difficulties. That’s where Dr Nick Flynn and Nurse Niamh O’Mahony, the practice manager at the MyCorkGP stepped in and offered us the necessary tests.’
Deputy Collins said the cost is being covered by the Kingsbridge Hospital, a private medical facility that further assisted the process by sending a representative to Cork on Wednesday.
The representative collected the swabs and transferred them back to Belfast for clearance before the surgeries can take place at the weekend.