Maternity hospital windfall as €7.5m promised by Simon Harris

In a major win for doctors at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) who have been battling to reduce appalling gynaecology waiting lists, Health Minister Simon Harris has committed to support a plan that will see a €7.5m capital investment over the next three years.

The news comes on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the country’s newest maternity hospital which, after a decade, finally has its own management and its own budget, independent of Cork University Hospital (CUH) — essentially the control the hospital had been seeking.

The interaction with Mr Harris followed a series of Irish Examiner reports highlighting the impact of excessive waiting times on women with serious gynaecological problems, where outpatient waiting lists had climbed to over 4,300.

Last night Mr Harris, who visited CUMH in January, said he was delighted to deliver on a commitment given at the time to consultants to support a plan “that will make a real difference for women in this region”.

The business plan was presented by consultants to the minister at the Department of Health yesterday.

Prof John R Higgins, clinical director of CUMH, who led the delegation meeting to the minister, said they were “delighted with his response”.

“This is great news for the women of Cork and a great birthday present for CUMH as we celebrate our 10th birthday today,” he said.

The fully-costed, three-year plan includes a capital investment of more than €1m this year with an extra day’s theatre time at CUH, the South Infirmary and the Mater Private. Next year will see the appointment of two permanent consultant obstetrician/ gynaecologists and the opening of a second gynaecology theatre at CUMH as well as a day unit.

The development of a “one-stop shop” will start in 2019. All of these developments were on the consultants’ wishlist.

Last year, almost the entire consultant cohort at the hospital took the unprecedented step of writing to the CEO of CUH, Tony McNamara, saying they could no longer take responsibility for women on the waiting list given the chronic underinvestment.


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