A long-promised new emergency department for Limerick has been hit with another delay and is now not expected to open until early 2017.
It had been hoped the new planned unit at Dooradoyle, which is being developed by the UL Hospitals group, would be open in the final quarter of 2016.
In a statement yesterday, the group chief executive confirmed the contract to build the new facility - as well as a 24-bed dialysis unit at University Hospital Limerick - has been signed following a public procurement process and the first works will commence shortly.
However, Colette Cowan said issues, including "engineering challenges" and the awarding of the contract, mean it will take 18 months to complete the combined €25m investment,
"We had hoped to open by the end of 2016, but these things can sometimes take a bit longer than planned and the most important thing is that the contract is now awarded," Ms Cowan said.
"We had to plan for the various engineering challenges which we need to overcome in ensuring continuity of care for patients while such a major project is underway, and also had to allow for the necessary due diligence and tender clarification process before the contract could be awarded."
Other complex works are also delaying its construction - including a new electrical switch room and the diversion of existing electrical services at the hospital.
The emergency department had previously been promised for 2015, and will now take around 18 months before it is operational.
It will be located on the ground floor of the critical care block and will be three times the size of the current emergency department.
The 24-bed dialysis unit will be located on the first floor near the new intensive care unit. This is expected to be operational within 12 months.
The unit is being supported by the Mid Western Hospital Development Trust and the JP McManus Charitable Foundation.
"There is a growing demand nationally for dialysis and this unit is a key requirement for us. What is being provided is a 24-bed unit, including four isolation rooms and five four-station bays which will be state-of-the-art," Ms Cowan added.
The works will be carried out by John Sisk and Son Holdings Ltd who secured the contract following the procurement process.