HSE gives go-ahead to €40m A&E at Beaumont
A new €40m A&E has finally been approved for Beaumont Hospital, the Irish Independent can reveal.
The move should relieve pressure on what is one of the country's busiest A&Es, which has been at crisis point on countless occasions recently.
The decision to include the long-awaited project in the HSE's capital budget for 2018 will also pacify Independent Alliance Minister Finian McGrath, who had demanded the new A&E in return for supporting the minority Government.
The HSE has advised the CEO of Beaumont Hospital that €100,000 will be made available next year for "design team fees".
Mr McGrath, who is Disabilities Minister, confirmed he had been made aware of the development ahead of the publication of the Government's capital plan late next month.
"It has been given the green light. I've been in detailed discussions on this for weeks. There is money for the design team in 2018 and we should be ready to roll [on construction] in 2019," he said.
Mr McGrath said it was "fantastic news for the staff and patients" of Beaumont, Dublin.
The existing A&E provides service to more than 50,000 patients each year. It also receives patients for neurosurgical assessment from other hospitals throughout the country.
However, it has been plagued by problems in recent years as staff struggled to cope with the ever-increasing number of patients being treated on trolleys.
Last winter, patient organisations described the overcrowding situation in Beaumont as "akin to a war zone".
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has also called for the department to go "off call" on a number of occasions in recent years due to overcrowding.
On the day of last week's Budget, Beaumont was the most overcrowded hospital in Dublin, with 25 people waiting for a bed.
Mr McGrath made a commitment to the new A&E a key element of his deal to enter government with Fine Gael.
The Programme for Government said the design should have begun in 2016, but movement has been slow.
It is understood the emergency department will be nearly three times the size of the existing facility.
The hospital has expressed a desire to develop the new ED on the current site, but the HSE said the design team would be asked to consider other sites. It will also identify "the clinical, operational and other risks associated with the proposed development during the construction of the works".
The full budget for the project will be decided once the initial design work is completed, but sources say it will be about €40m.
The announcement ensures Mr McGrath will continue to back Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's Government for the foreseeable future.
However, the Independent Alliance minister said his focus would now move to securing funding for a dedicated cystic fibrosis unit at Beaumont.