Wednesday 18 September 2019

Harris to unveil €2.1bn HSE spending splurge

Long-promised blueprint for next three years may point to election on horizon

Health Minister Simon Harris. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Health Minister Simon Harris. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Health Minister Simon Harris will this week unveil a €2.1bn HSE spending plan which the Government hopes will shore up support ahead of the forthcoming general election.

The three-year HSE capital spending plan includes 250 new projects which will receive State funding over the next three years.

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The long-promised plan includes a commitment to create 480 new hospital beds to ease pressure on emergency departments.

This includes 100 beds to be opened in mental health units and two new mental health services in Kildare and Sligo.

The plan, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent, also includes commitments to open 30 new primary care centres across the country. There will also be significant investment in diagnostic equipment in 20 health units, including three new cath labs, four MRI and two CT scanners.

Over €300m will be used to upgrade hospital buildings, healthcare equipment and ambulance services. A further €265m will be spent refurbishing and building new nursing home facilities.

New hospices in Waterford, Wicklow and Mayo will be finished by the end of this year, with others planned for Sligo, Galway, Drogheda, the Midlands and Dublin.

Tomorrow, when the plan is announced, Mr Harris will also pledge to open two new emergency departments in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and in Galway University Hospital.

He will also announce the development of three new hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway which will deal only with non-emergency surgeries. The minister believes the three hospitals will help address the massive waiting lists for non-elective surgeries.

Publication of the plan was delayed due to the rising cost of the National Children's Hospital (NCH) project. However, the plan was finally signed off on last week and sources say none of the HSE's previously announced projects have been cancelled because of the NCH project.

In the capital plan document, Mr Harris said: "Healthcare delivery over the coming decade is changing to meet the needs of the Irish population, as more of us live longer lives.

"Project Ireland 2040 will see €10.9bn invested in our health & social care service over the next 10 years and this plan sets out the first phase up to 2021.

"Implementation of the Slaintecare Action Plan will make it easier to access health and social care services in the right place at the right time.

"Capital investment will play a key role in enhancing health and social care and driving reform," he added.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said: "The HSE's primary focus must be on the experiences of the patients and all who engage with us.

"Healthcare estate is a key enabler for the delivery of a quality healthcare service. Modern infrastructure and equipment are a crucial part of the provision of a quality health service and ultimately a positive patient experience.

"Some €642m has been allocated in 2019 to continue the delivery of over 91 projects across the country and initiate another 73 projects for acute and non-acute services.

"Some 58 community nursing units are at planning/design stages and €85m has been allocated to deal with infrastructural risk, replacement of equipment and replacement of ambulances," he added.

Sunday Independent

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