Wednesday 16 October 2019

Fears over funding for works at trio of Cork hospitals

Bill Browne

The "complete mismanagement" by the government of the finances for the National Children's Hospital has cast doubts over the planned refurbishment of three hospitals in the north and mid-Cork areas. 

That's according to Cork North West Fianna Fail TD Michael Moynihan, who said serious questions needed to be answered over the schedules for proposed plans of works at Kanturk, Millstreet and Macroom Community Hospital's. 

Deputy Moynihan has been vocal in the past in relation to delays to works at Kanturk and Millstreet Hospital's, both of which have been the subject of HIQA reports highlighting major flaws in operating procedures and conditions at the HSE administered facilities. 

Last month the government signed off on a €100 million measure of capital budget cuts in a bid to offset the spiralling cost of the Children's Hospital - with half of the amount coming from the health budget. 

Fears that this may have a direct impact on the plans for the trio of Cork facilities prompted Deputy Moynihan to raise the issue in the Dáil, asking Health Minister Simon Harris to make a statement on the matter.  In his reply Minister Harris said officials from his department and the HSE were currently working to finalise  the HSE's capital spending plan for this year. 

He said that plan would determine the projects that could progress during 2019 and beyond "having regard to the total available capital funding and the relevant priority of each project." 

"Once the HSE has finalised its Capital Plan for 2019, it will be submitted to me for consideration. As the HSE is responsible for the delivery of healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked them to reply to you directly and outline the current status of the community hospitals in Cork," he said. 

Describing the reply as "vague and non-committal, Deputy Moynihan said he was concerned that Minister Harris was unable to rule out the possibility of the three projects being mothballed for the foreseeable future. 

"This government has presided over one of the worst budget overruns in the history of the State, which will no doubt have consequences for other capital and infrastructure projects. Ministers have been using terms such as 're-profiling' and 're-scheduling' of funds. However, what that actually means is delays and cuts," said Deputy Moynihan. 

"This [the Minister's reply] is extremely vague and non-committal and fails to even reference the budget fiasco with the Children's hospital overspend. The government needs to come clean with the public and outline what projects are going to be delayed or shelved as a result of their complete mismanagement of the Children's Hospital budget," he added.