CORK is to get a dedicated cataract theatre that could facilitate up to 2,000 cataract operations every year.
Senator Tim Lombard told The Southern Star that funding has been allocated to refit part of the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in the city centre.
The project – which will involve a refit at the hospital and the construction of two side-by-side ophthalmology operating theatres – is about to go to tender.
One of the operating theatres will be devoted to the management of complex cases, while the second will be used for more routine procedures, such as cataract operations.
Senator Lombard explained that having just one theatre at the hospital has limited its capacity to perform routine procedures ‘because complex cases are always given priority’.
He said the new facility would make much better use of existing resources, and the South Infirmary’s five ophthalmic consultant surgeons.
Commenting on the fact that cataract waiting lists have soared in recent years – and that this has forced West Cork patients to seek treatment at a private hospital in Belfast – the Fine Gael senator agreed that Irish patients, especially older people, should not have to travel such long distances for what is, in most cases, a routine day procedure.
He said a dedicated facility in Cork would significantly cut waiting times, save millions of euro on outsourcing treatment, and enhance Cork’s credentials as a centre for ophthalmic training.
The tender process is expected to take until early 2021 to complete, followed by a 12-month period of construction.