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I have been continually raising with the Health Minister the need to increase substantially the capacity for orthopaedic procedures in the North East and in Dublin hospitals such as Cappagh.  I constantly receive queries from constituents who are waiting much too long  for assessments and follow-up procedures. 

As can be seen from the reply to my Parliamentary Question there is an urgent need to ensure that the capacity of Cappagh Hospital is maximised.  Patients should not be waiting so long for essential treatment.

For Oral Answer on : 23/10/2018
Question Number(s): 116 Question Reference(s): 43606/18
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.


To ask the Minister for Health if Cappagh Hospital is operating at full capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Cappagh Hospital currently has three theatres fully operational and a fourth operational for 80% of the time. With the recent appointment of one additional surgeon and a locum surgeon, activity is set to increase further and it is anticipated that the fourth theatre will be fully operational by year end.

There have been improvements in waiting times for access to services at Cappagh Hospital.  In 2018, in-patient waiting times have fallen to approximately 12 months. It is expected that waiting times will reduce further by year-end, when it is anticipated that no patient will wait for a hip or a knee replacement beyond 9 months.

Cappagh Hospital increased its paediatric scoliosis activity in recent years and this trend has continued into 2018 with the hospital now projecting that it will complete 50 spinal fusion surgeries this year –  ahead of its target of 39 surgeries. In addition to the scoliosis work, the hospital has completed 17 additional complex spinal procedures year to date again ahead of its target of 12 procedures for 2018.

Furthermore, the hospital is also undertaking day case activity for long waiting paediatric patients from Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.

I understand from the HSE that the hospital has completed a business case for the opening of the fifth theatre. That theatre would require significant upgrading, equipping and staffing in order to undertake additional procedures. Any decision on whether to provide the additional capital and revenue funding will be taken in consultation with the Ireland East Hospital Group and in the context of competing demands for available resources.