The Mercy University Hospital (MUH) has an ambitious plan to quadruple in size to meet the healthcare needs of the Cork and Munster regions.
The enlarged campus would incorporate a general hospital, supporting a new elective facility, on its existing city centre site and on the adjacent Distillery Fields, a “brownfield” site owned by MUH and UCC, which is largely used for parking and includes a number of unused buildings.
The site is shovel-ready and underused, according to MUH, which also claims that its location, close to Cork University Hospital, UCC, Cork city centre, and several current and planned transport links, makes it ideal for such investment.
National healthcare policy has identified the need for a new elective hospital in Cork. This plan details the potential development of the existing MUH site and of the adjacent Distillery Fields to meet this need.
The new MUH campus would quadruple the size of the hospital, on a phased basis over 15 years, from 22,000sq m to 90,200sq m of clinical space, with the option of 400 single-occupancy rooms, 100 day-case beds, 50 single-occupancy mental health beds, 15 operating theatres, as well as diagnostics and consulting rooms.
The hospital aims to become a leader in the provision of complex, elective, surgical inpatient services, a number of specialist areas, and urgent ambulatory care.
In the proposal, Neil O’Carroll, chairman of MUH, writes that there is “clear, proven evidence” that Cork’s hospitals, as currently configured, “are unable to meet current and future growing demographic pressures and the needs of a burgeoning Cork economy”.
The proposal outlines the planned development of the Mercy University Hospital and its Distillery Fields site to “assist the South/South West Hospital Group, HSE, and Department of Health in their strategic decision-making processes for future healthcare investment in the region”.
It recognises “the need to protect scheduled and unscheduled capacity, the phased implementation of Sláintecare, in support of community services reconfiguration, and the development of the regional trauma centre at Cork University Hospital (CUH)”.
The proposals represent a significant scaling-up of the plans for the hospital, which, in January 2017, outlined that it would double its footprint by expanding upwards.
However, three years on, the plans have changed radically and now include a proposal to build an additional 68,000sq m of capacity on land co-owned by MUH and UCC, in Distillery Fields.
This land was bought 20 years ago. It includes a number of buildings currently used by UCC and several vacant structures. It is already accessible via a pedestrian bridge and Cork City Council’s development plan includes proposals for a second bridge.
In all, the hospital would include some 90,200sq m of capacity, if completed as outlined in the proposals, which envision development over the next 15 years. In the briefing documents, it is noted that this could be accelerated, if required.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner, Niall O’Carroll said it is time to “invest ambitiously” in healthcare in Cork.
I am confident that healthcare in Cork can be transformed through the development of the MUH campus and will contribute to giving Cork, and the region, a modern, responsive, and integrated healthcare system.
MUH chief executive, Sandra Daly, said the plan is the result of an extensive investigation undertaken by the hospital.
“It supports the development of a modern, responsive, and integrated health system in Cork, which will optimise patient safety, patient experience, and effectiveness of care,” she said.
“The advantages of investing in MUH are many and the development can be accommodated whilst the hospital remains fully operational.”