WHILE it was nice to see the still bright and shiny Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) celebrating its tenth anniversary last week, outward appearances mask a terrible mess that lurks beneath, with over 4,300 women on the outpatient waiting list – hardly what was envisaged when the state-of the-art facility was opened in 2007.
Since then, over 85,000 babies have been born there and the happiness they have brought to people has been immense. However, women who have gynaecological problems experience other emotions and their health and wellbeing is being adversely affected by lengthening waiting lists for appointments and treatment at CUMH that are more than double those of other comparable hospitals, with some women told that they could be waiting for at least 129 weeks.
The main problem is with staffing shortages which have seen the operating theatres at the hospital working at only about 40% capacity. Extra staff costs money and, at long last, Minister for Health Simon Harris has come up with some in order to reduce what be described as the ‘unacceptable’ waiting lists for CUMH.
In consultation with the HSE, hospital management and consultants, the Minister has agreed a three-year plan to reduce the waiting lists with an extra €1.1m allocated for the rest of this year. This should provide for an additional 1,500 out-patients being seen by consultants plus another 500 patients on waiting lists undergoing required surgery before year end.
Over the lifetime of the plan, a total capital investment of €7.5m has been promised by Minister Harris, which will enable the appointment of two permanent consultant obstetrician- gynaecologists and the opening of a second gynaecology theatre, as well as a day unit next year, followed by the development of a ‘one-stop shop’ for all gynaecological services at CUMH in 2019. So, credit where it is due – and with no pun intended – the Minister has delivered.