Monday 11 December 2017

Primary care centre to open next month

September opening for Balbriggan Primary Care Centre confirmed

John Manning

The long-awaited Balbriggan Primary Care Centre which found itself the focus of national controversy, five years ago, will finally be operational and open to the public in September, the HSE has confirmed to the Fingal Independent.

Prior to that announcement, Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee (FF) had criticised the length of time it has taken to deliver the facility, saying: 'When the project was announced as part of domestic infrastructure stimulus we were told that a centre in Balbriggan would be up and running in the first quarter of this year. However, construction was only completed in the second quarter of the year and it is yet to open.

'Given the degree of controversy which was generated back in 2012, it seems senseless that the Government wouldn't do its utmost to complete the project on time and as promised.'

The Primary Care Centre became the focus of national controversy when it appeared on a priority list of a number of primary care centres around the county while Senator James Reilly was the Minister for Health. The facility was subsequently removed from that list and proceeded separately under a 'direct leasing' arrangement between the HSE and a private developer.

Senator Reilly argued the Balbriggan Primary Care Centre was 'on track' and was always going to open on a phased basis.

He said: 'Balbriggan Primary Care Centre is will be fully operational by the end of September. The Department of Health have confirmed to me that Balbriggan Primary Care Centre has been completed in phases, with the GPs, phase completing first, and the HSE's phase completing two months after.

'The GPs are operating from the premises currently. HSE Services will commence with the Primary Health Networks moving in on 17th August, and the rest of the Primary Care Services moving into the premises in September.'

He added: 'This is great news for the town of Balbriggan with the Primary Care Centre delivering all of the health or social care services that you can find in your community, outside of hospital. It includes GPs, Public Health Nurses and a range of other services.

'A new modern Primary Care Centre will present attractive opportunities for our young doctors to work in Balbriggan and offer a comprehensive service to the local community.'

Senator Reilly's time-line for the centre to be fully operational and open to the public tallies with that of the HSE, obtained separately by the Fingal Independent.

In a statement, a HSE spokesperson told the Fingal Independent: 'Construction of the Primary Care Centre in Balbriggan was completed and handed over to the HSE in June of this year and has been undergoing final commissioning and equipping since. It is expected that it will be open to the public and become operational in September 2017.'

Senator Reilly dismissed criticism of the delivery of the Primary Care Centre for the town, saying: 'There has been a lot of scaremongering locally about this issue.'

But Senator Clifford Lee argued that the delay in opening this facility and the stalling of another promised centre in Swords as well as slow progress on other primary care facilities around the country was an 'indictment of this Government's failure to follow through on its promises'.

Fingal Independent

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