The shortlist has been submitted to Health Minister Leo Varadkar for his consideration for site acquisition costs as part of a long-term plan to reduce the number of acute hospital services in Cork from three sites to two. It is understood the first phase, a 300-bed hospital, would cost in the region of €300m.
European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy welcomed the submission of the ‘statement of need’ document and said he hopes the debate will start about where the hospital should be located.
With a planning decision due within weeks on the Port of Cork’s proposed facility in Ringaksiddy, Mr Murphy said the relocation of activity from the Tivoli docks would provide an ideal site for a major hospital.
“For too long, we’ve focused too much development in the south-west of the city,” he said. “There is potential now to develop in the east, near the train station. We must consider the opportunities that will arise when this vast amount of land is freed up when Port of Cork moves.”
The South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH) and Mercy University Hospital outlined their merger plans in 2007.
Since 2009, a major programme of reconfiguration of acute hospital services has been under way in Cork and Kerry, which has seen the redeployment of more than 800 healthcare staff and the streamlining of emergency services in Cork from five 24/7 emergency departments to two, the transfer of the SIVUH to a completely elective hospital, the opening of St Mary’s Health Campus, the transfer of emergency surgery from SIVUH, Mallow General, and Bantry General Hospitals to Cork University Hospital, and the re-establishment of paediatric ortho-paedics in Cork after a four-year absence.
One of the key parts of the overall reconfiguration plan was the development of a state-of-the-art hospital infrastructure.
It recommended that suitable sites be identified and that a masterplan be prepared for the development of a major hospital, in phases and as funding allowed, over a 10- to 15-year period.
The South/South West Hospital Group has submitted a detailed ‘statement of need’ to Mr Varadkar.
The document, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, says the hospital site must be at least 50 acres, but preferably up to 100 acres, to facilitate expansion, in a clean, low-noise environment, be close to CUH, and have access to public transport, and public utilities.
The sites are St Mary’s Health Campus in Gurranabraher, Sarsfield Court, St Finbarr’s Hospital, the ESB site in Wilton, a greenfield site off the South Ring Road, and a docklands site.
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