The Government has given the green light for a multi-million extension of a large hospital in Cork.
News that a 48-bed block is to be built at Mallow General Hospital was announced last night.
It will facilitate an increase in the number of elective surgical procedures at the hospital, helping to reduce waiting lists and workload pressures on the larger hospitals in the region.
It is understood that work could start on site within months.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East, James O’Connor, welcomed the news and said it is a significant vote of confidence in the hospital.
“It is critical that this development goes ahead as a matter of urgency,” he said.
“The hospital has a critical role to play in the future of health care in rural Ireland."
However, he said significant discussions are ongoing at senior government and HSE level about investment in, and development of, other services there.
The hospital is part of the Cork University Hospital Group. It provides a range of services including general surgery and general medicine, including cardiology and gastroenterology.
It has a day procedure unit, radiology, an out-patient department, and its emergency department was replaced with an urgent-care centre.
Earlier this year, county councillors in north Cork urged the Government to consider locating the new elective hospital proposed for Cork on the Mallow General Hospital site, or in the town.
The HSE is considering a number of potential sites for the new hospital, including sites in Curraheen, in the city’s docklands or at St Stephen's Hospital, Glanmire.
Mallow-based Cork East Labour TD Sean Sherlock, said he was delighted with the news.
“I think this is a wonderful vote of confidence in the hospital,” he said.
“We've been saying it for decades - that this hospital is an excellent hospital, that it provides excellent care, and has excellent staff with excellent outcomes for patients. It's great to see that the HSE realise this.
“It means that there is absolutely a future for MGH.”