Tuesday 15 October 2019

Fears cuts may hit Cork health services and local capital projects

Bill Browne

A North Cork-based county councillor has said he fears health services in Cork are going to suffer as a result of cost-cutting measures to recoup the overspend on the national children's hospital. 

Cllr Timmy Collins, who is one of the authority's representatives on the HSE's Regional Health Forum (South), said he feared the implementation of capital projects across the north Cork region, including the planned new school in Kanturk, could be be put back as a result of the measures. 

Last week the Cabinet signed off on almost €100million worth of cuts to its capital projects budget for this year to fill the financial hole left in the wake of the children's hospital fiasco.

It is understood that, under the proposals, €50million will be shaved off the health budget and €30million from transport, with the remainder to be made up through cuts to other departments including Education, the OPW and Agriculture. 

Despite an assurance from Finance Minister Pascal Donohue that no project would be "materially affected", Cllr Collins said he was worried that cuts to health services in Cork and Kerry could push the "already creaking sector to breaking point". 

"As a member of the Regional Health Forum, I am only too aware of just how stretched health services are across Cork. My fear is that further cuts will result in increased waiting times for patients and a reduction in funding to other non-emergency services," said Cllr Collins. 

"This could even have an impact on capital health projects, such as refurbishment works to Kanturk and Millstreet hospitals," he added. 

Cllr Collins said he also feared that funding may be stalled for other local capital projects, saying he would be particularly concerned if funding for the new Kanturk school were to be stalled. 

"This project has already faced numerous delays, and we are still no closer to finding out if the tender for the project has even been awarded yet," said Cllr Collins. 

"My fear is that any funding for the project may now be put on hold and it could be years before he school is built. I will be calling on Cork County Council to write to education Minister Joe McHugh to ensure the funding for this vital project is securely ring-fenced," he added.