€1.6bn for hospitals includes finished projects
THE Government's much-vaunted €1.6bn spending plan for hospital infrastructure includes two hospital 'projects' that are already built and another that is due to be completed this year.
The construction of cardiac/renal facilities at Cork University Hospital has already been finished and the new €11.5m accident and emergency department at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda opened last month.
Furthermore, the €22m 72-bed hospital ward and accident and emergency department at Letterkenny General Hospital have been under construction since 2008. They are due to be completed this year.
The chairperson of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group, Triona Murphy, said: "Apart from the Mater site and some 'rollouts' and 'improvements', the capital spending on acute hospitals is a fallacy."
She said it was "misleading" for the Infrastructure Investment Priorities 2010-2016 plan to include such projects.
"I really couldn't believe the cardiac and renal unit in Cork. It was opened with huge fanfare in March, yet if you read the plan, you'd presume it was still in the planning stages," she said.
The Department of Health denied that it was misleading to include the completed facilities in Cork University Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, as well as the almost-complete facilities in Letterkenny General Hospital.
In a statement, it confirmed that construction work had been completed on the new facilities in Cork and Drogheda and that Letterkenny was due to be finished by the end of this year.
But it said they were all "phased developments", which would require a further €30m in capital expenditure to complete them.
The largest share of this money, €20m, is required for the specialist Cardiac and Renal unit at Cork University Hospital, where construction work was completed last April.
This includes the installation of laboratories and specialist laminar air cardiac surgery theatres.
The construction and fit-out of the A&E department in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is complete and it is now operational.
But around €7m is required for the fit-out and equipping of the high-dependency/coronary-care unit.
The new, four-storey, 72-bed hospital ward block and the A&E department in Letterkenny General Hospital are due to be finished by the end of this year.
The department said a contract for equipping the new facilities had not been signed and the expected cost could not be disclosed because it was "commercially sensitive".
The Tallaght Hospital Action Group pointed out last night that there was no mention in the plan of the promised urgent care centre for children in Tallaght Hospital, which was intended to be built before the new National Children's Hospital in Dublin.
But the Department of Health said this centre in Tallaght was being developed alongside the National Children's Hospital.
"The new children's hospital and the ambulatory and urgent-care facility at Tallaght will provide the highest-possible standard of care to children, young people and their families who require access to national tertiary paediatric services," it added.
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