Wednesday 22 November 2017

Some of our health buildings are 'older than Oz and Canada'

Leo Varadkar said there is a serious need to invest in buildings such as nursing homes and disability facilities
Leo Varadkar said there is a serious need to invest in buildings such as nursing homes and disability facilities

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has warned that some of the buildings in the health service are older than countries such as Australia and Canada.

Mr Varadkar's comment comes as the Government prepares to unveil its much-anticipated capital investment plan, which is expected to include massive amounts of spending on roads, schools and hospitals.

It is also understood An Garda Síochána will receive a significant investment when the plan is announced.

The Irish Independent has also learned the capital spending plan will not be announced next week as expected, as Taoiseach Enda Kenny is out of the country on State business.

Yesterday, Mr Varadkar said there is a serious need to invest in buildings such as nursing homes and disability facilities in order to bring them up to scratch.

"If you think about it, we often talk about Irish people going to work in the health service of Australia and Canada. A lot of our buildings are older than Canada and Australia," he said.

"Obviously, my key priority for the capital plan is to make sure we can proceed with the national projects. We could be in a situation by this time next year that we have a new national children's hospital, a new national maternity hospital, a new national forensic mental health campus and a new national rehab hospital all under construction. That is very achievable, with planning permission for two - and I hope to have planning permission for the other two, which would be really great."

As a former transport minister, Mr Varadkar said there is limited money available to fund a series of ambitious transport projects in Dublin.

He said there has always been a desire to complete the Metro North, the DART Underground and the Cross City Luas, but said his successor, Paschal Donohoe, will have to make the decision.

It is expected the plan will include a €1bn investment in the defence forces over the next 10 years.

Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch announced last week that she expected an investment of around €300m for nursing homes.

The powerful Cabinet sub-committee, the Economic Management Council, has already signed off on the capital plan and it will be discussed at a specially convened Cabinet meeting in the coming days.

Senior Coalition sources said there is still scope for "some wriggle room" and bartering before the plan is officially announced.

Irish Independent

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