Planning is at an advanced stage for a multi million euro extension to the radiology department at South Tipperary General Hospital.
A planning application has been lodged with Tipperary County Council concerning a new build three storey extension located adjacent to the existing radiology unit and the Emergency and Accident facilities.
Two consultant radiologists at South Tipperary General John Hynes and Michael Fitzgerald have warmly welcomed the long awaited development.
The decision of the HSE to proceed with the extension is seen as a massive boost to South Tipperary General and will greatly strengthen the future of acute hospital services in Clonmel.
CT scanning, up to 7,000 are carried out every year in Clonmel, has been conducted in portacabins since 2003 but that service, with the addition of a new CT scanner which has already been provided, will now be located in a state of the art radiology department.
The application also provides space for an MRI unit and while the shell for the unit will exist following the build, funding for the MRI scanner has to be pursued.
“This combined CT MRI suite will copper-fasten the future of South Tipperary General Hospital. It is very encouraging to see the HSE invest significantly in Clonmel and everybody associated with the hospital is delighted,” said Mr Hynes.
“Every modern hospital has to have these services and these new suites will greatly enhance South Tipperary General,” said Michael Fitzgerald.
Siobhan Thompson, senior supervising radiographer, said the new services would be good for the patients and everybody was delighted that planning was at an advanced stage.
At the moment South Tipperary General relies on Cork, Limerick, Kilkenny and Waterford for MRI facilities but now it is to have its own dedicated MRI suite.
“The fact that the HSE allowed for an MRI shell to be included in the planning application is recognition that the services will be provided in the future” said Mr Hynes.
“The portacabins where the CT service is located are past their sell-by-date. It was not an ideal situation over the years but now we can look forward to the service being provided in modern state of the art building. It will give us a permanent facility for a CT suite. It’s long awaited and very welcome” said Mr Hynes.
He said the HSE had already invested heavily in upgrading the existing services by installing a patient archiving and communications system (PACS) at South Tipperary General as part of a roll-out of national network.
Mr Hynes is hopeful that the extension to the radiology department could be in use as early as Christmas 2015.
The new radiology services will be located on the bottom floor of the three storey build with the other two floors being used to back up other acute services in the hospital.
Welcoming the development, Minister of State Tom Hayes said the new facilities would “provide a better and more efficient service at the hospital and will also give it scope to offer more to patients in the future, such as MRI scanning”.
He said the new build and provision of such vital services would strengthen the hospital’s position going in to the future.
The hospital received a further boost this week when the Endoscopy Unit was awarded the Joint Advisory Group’s Certificate of Endoscopy Accreditation for 2014.
Under the auspices of the Royal College of Physicians, the JAG Accreditation Scheme is a patient-centred and workforce focused scheme, based on the principle of independent assessment against recognised standards.
In Ireland, St. James’ and St. Vincent’s Hospitals in Dublin, Sligo and Wexford General Hospitals have received such accreditation and they are now joined by South Tipperary General Hospital.