A multi-million euro cancer scanner unit, lying idle in Cork University Hospital since 2009 will be up and running by the end of May.
The PET/CT scanner unit was unavailable due to a lack of specialist staff.
The hi-tech tool cost €3.8m. The overall cost for developing the treatment and diagnostic facility where it is based was €6.85m.
However, in a letter seen by the Irish Examiner, the HSE has confirmed a third party provider has been appointed to operate and manage the scanner.
“A scheduled go-live date, towards the end of May, is anticipated depending on the outcome of final discussions between the third party provider and the private insurance companies for cover arrangements for the new unit.
“It is anticipated that, upon go-live, all patients in the Munster region will no longer need to travel to Dublin for this important service but avail of the state of the art facility within the CUH,” states the letter.
The fact the scanner was idle has been a major source of controversy in recent years. It is one of just two in Ireland’s public hospital system, with the other based in St James’s Hospital in Dublin. As a result, about 200 Munster-based cancer patients have been forced to travel to Dublin for scans every year.
The CUH scanner is now expected to be in operation for two days a week.
Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch welcomed the news and said she hoped private insurance companies would provide cover for the provision of the service.
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