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New ENT and Audiology suite opened at St Bernard’s

A new £1m ENT and Audiology Suite was opened at St Bernard’s Hospital on Friday, boosting the GHA’s capacity to treat people with ear, neck and throat conditions at home in Gibraltar.

The suite was inaugurated by the Minister for Health, Albert Isola, and Director General of the GHA Professor Patrick Geoghegan, with sign language provided by Richard Weaver.

Also present was Consultant ENT Surgeon, Julian Danino.

The suite has been billed as part of a major review of the GHA’s estate that provides world-class facilities which will revolutionise the services available to patients in Gibraltar.

“I want to say how proud I am to be here today to be part of this. And because this has been a dream for some time, I know within the GHA and I know especially Julian's dream as well and your colleagues here, that we would have services and provided locally,” said Prof Geoghegan.

“And that we could, as part of our Reset Restart Recover program, so that people can have a choice to stay local. Stay their families have treatment.”

“I've worked in many hospitals and I think you have the best ENT department that I have seen. And I'm not just saying that because I'm here.”

Mr Isola said that it was an investment of a million pounds, but it's not the money but the ability to treat people in Gibraltar, including children, therefore removing the need for them and their parents to go to the UK.

“We can now do those procedures here and then go home immediately after the release without having to spend so much time waiting to see the specialist in the UK,” he said.

“This is an enormous step forward, but it's just one step. As you will hear from Patrick and myself at different times, there are many, many steps, some of which we've taken, some of which are coming and this is one which will we're able to deliver to the people today.”

Mr Danino said it has been a four-year journey, delayed because of Covid, but now the GHA has top of the range facilities.

“For those of you who are not aware, this is a stark contrast from where we were four and a half years ago,” he said.

“When I arrived here in 2018, we had two small rooms and the audiology department located still in the PCC.”

“I would like to thank the GHA for supporting, investing and implementing the vision that I delivered and proposed to the GHA at that time. It means that now we're in a position to develop and deliver really better care for our patients in a future-proofed resilient environment.”

He also noted that in addition to ENT and audiology services, they will always work in collaboration with other colleagues.

“With that in mind, we have a dedicated children's waiting area. We also now have our adults and paediatric speech therapists doing clinics, some clinics here, we have our ICU team doing the monthly ICU patient reviews and, as of next month, we will have our paediatric anaesthetic reassessment clinics run here on a regular basis,” he said.

“As well as the maxillofacial services, which we'll be moving up in due course.”

“It means that we are very open to having collaboration and working with other colleagues, it is very important.”

Members of GHITA were also present at the opening of the unit.

Edgar Triay from the charity said, “We are very proud of having been involved and excited for the new enhanced ENT and Audiology services that these new facilities will enable. £1 million has been invested to bring Gibraltar Otology services to the 21st Century. We applaud everyone especially HM Government of Gibraltar for funding the project.”

The ENT and Audiology Suite includes an otology service which would include hearing loss; tinnitus; dizziness/vertigo; ear infections and complex otology surgery. It will also provide a head, neck and thyroid service for head and neck skin cancer management; benign and malignant cancer services; local surgical services; diagnosis of voice disorders and provision of combined SLT/ENT clinics.

Rhinology and Paediatric ENT is also included where healthcare professionals will manage nose and sinus conditions in both adults and children; manage patients with loss of smell and allergy conditions; deal with hearing concerns and speech delay in children; paediatric conditions including airway assessment, apnoea and recurrent infections; combined paediatric voice and swallowing clinics (ENT/SLT) and paediatric care.

Pics by Johnny Bugeja

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