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Minister Harris Opens New UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital

Mr Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health with receptionists Deirdre Whelan and Michelle Morrissey and Nurse Bernie Morrissey pictured at the official opening of the UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital by Mr Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health. Picture: Brian Arthur

Minister Harris Opens New UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today officially opened the UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital.

Mr Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health. and Cathrina Ryan Operational Director Nenagh pictured at the official opening of the UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital by Mr Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health.
Picture: Brian Arthur



Under a nationally funded initiative, Nenagh has become a national centre of excellence for cataract surgery. All suitable cataract surgery within UL Hospitals Group is to migrate from University Hospital Limerick (UHL) to the new theatres at Nenagh. The first procedure under the new initiative was completed in July of this year and with one list of 10-12 patients a day being completed once a week, it is expected that 200 patients will be taken off the surgical waiting list by the end of 2018. When the theatre in Nenagh moves from one-day-a-week to five days a week in 2019, it is expected at least 10 times that number of procedures will be carried out in a full year. This will see Nenagh hospital not only play a significant role in reducing waiting lists for cataract surgery in the Midwest but will also make a mark nationally by insourcing patients from other regions.

Staff at Nenagh Hospital and the Perioperative Directorate at UL Hospitals Group have worked closely with the HSE Acute Hospitals Division, the Department of Health and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) in securing the additional resources and funding for this initiative.

In June 2018, the Directorate completed a position paper to establish a stand-alone, high-volume, consultant-led cataract theatre at Nenagh Hospital. This resulted in a commitment of €1 million in capital funding for equipment and additional funding for the extra medical, nursing and administrative resources required to run the service.

Speaking in Nenagh this Monday, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to be here this morning to officially open the UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh. This centre represents just under €1 million in capital investment and will be a centre of excellence for the UL Hospitals Group and surrounding counties.

“Improving access to treatment for patients is a key priority of Government. The opening of the UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital will deliver on this objective, providing improvements for patients in the Midwest and surrounding areas.”

Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, thanked the Minister, the Acute Hospitals Division and the NTPF for “putting their trust in Nenagh and in the UL Hospitals Group to deliver on this important national initiative”.

“Our staff were conscious that there was great potential in Nenagh, in line with the national clinical programme for Ophthalmology Model of Eye Care, to make a real difference in cutting waiting lists for cataract surgery initially in the Midwest and ultimately around the country. The demand for cataract surgery will only increase as the population grows and ages. This national centre helps secure the future of Nenagh Hospital and means more timely, more accessible access for patients to the state-of-the-art theatres here and to the expert multidisciplinary staff that operate here under the corporate and clinical governance structures of the UL Hospitals Group”.

Mr Graham Knowles, Chair, UL Hospitals Group, added: “National policy on the role and function of hospitals likeNenagh is clearly set out in the Smaller Hospitals Framework of 2013 and more recently reinforced in Slaintecare. It sets out how our Model 2 hospitals can not only adapt and survive but expand and thrive long into the future by developing ambulatory care, specialist medical, diagnostics and day surgery services. Reading through the Framework, the first two surgical sub-specialities mentioned are cataracts and hernias; and Nenagh has this year commenced day case procedures in respect of both.”

Mr Ismail Tuwir, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, UL Hospitals Group, said the centre at Nenagh would deliver real benefits for patients. “I am thrilled with the opening of the new ophthalmology centre (UL Hospitals Cataract Centre) in Nenagh Hospital. This space will allow us to increase the number of cataract operations I am able to perform on a weekly basis, therefore reducing the wait time on the public waiting list. I look forward to this opportunity to better serve the Midwest,” said Mr Tuwir.

On his visit to Nenagh, Minister Harris was also given a tour of the state-of-the-art new inpatient accommodation for medical patients. The first phase of this €4.6 million project has been handed over and the first 18 patients (16 single rooms and one two-bedded room) are due to be occupied by the end of this month.

A two-room suite which forms part of the phase one extension is being provided as a result of the support of the Friends of Nenagh Hospital and will be known as the “Gloster Suite” in memory of the late Alice Gloster who generously left funding in her will to the Group.

The 2nd phase of the development which is currently being procured will see the refurbishment of the current male medical ward space to provide a further eight beds in four new double occupancy en-suite inpatient rooms along with other ancillary spaces including administration offices, staff facilities and ward storage areas. This should be complete by end of 2019 and will increase by two the overall bed capacity in Nenagh.

Speaking on the project today, Declan McGee, Chairman, Friends of Nenagh Hospital, said: “For over 30 years, the Friends of Nenagh Hospital have supported hospital management and staff as they provide an effective medical service to the community. This support is provided through the generous donations and bequests we receive from members of the public, both local and further afield.”

“A large bequest from the estate of the late Alice Gloster, Rathnaleen, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, has allowed the Friends to finance the Gloster Suite, in Alice’s memory. The suite, which will form part of the new Medical Ward, will be used for end-of-life patients and their families, in accordance with Alice’s wishes. The HSE have very kindly accommodated us in honouring Alice’s memory and both the Friends of Nenagh Hospital and Alice’s family are extremely grateful for this kind gesture.”

And Cathrina Ryan, Operational Director of Nursing, Nenagh Hospital, said: “The new accommodation provides for safer, better care and an improved patient experience on many levels. It is a fabulous, state-of-the-art new facility for staff and patients alike with all modern equipment and access to an outdoor garden. This build will also mean increased compliance with isolation needs. And single room accommodation will mean all patients and families who request a single room at end of life will be accommodated, ensuring they get the dignity and privacy they require.”

The project was delayed when the original contractor Manley Construction ran into financial difficulty and the project was completed by contractors Martins Construction.

The Design Team for the medical ward block at Nenagh Hospital are Architects O’Connell Mahon; John Britton, Civil and Structural; Hayes Higgins Partnership Mechanical and Electrical; Edward Cotter Partnership, Quantity Surveyors; Fire Consultant, Maurice Johnson Associates and PSDP was by ORS.

Clodagh Hanratty, Estates Manager, HSE commented: “The new single occupancy rooms will provide state-of-the-art, modern accommodation affording inpatients and their families the best possible degree of privacy and dignity during their care.”

For more information on UL Hospitals Group go here.

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