Tuesday 26 March 2019

Sligo impacted by Children's Hospital 'saga'

Sorcha Crowley at Sligo County Council meeting

The "scandalous" mismanagement of taxpayers' money on the National Children's Hospital will mean Sligo patients will be kept waiting for a new Diabetic Centre and Cath Lab and other services at Sligo University Hospital.

That's according to Sinn Féin Cllr Chris MacManus who was backed by members in calling on the Council to express their "grave concern" to the HSE and Health Minister Simon Harris regarding the impact of the spiralling cost of the National Children's Hospital on local health services.

Cllr MacManus pointed out that Department of Health officials have said that other health capital projects will be changed or deferred while an extra 50 million euro will have to come from other capital budgets.

He told last Monday's Council meeting that funding for Primary Care Centres such as the one planned for Grange would now "most likely kicked into the long grass."

He said a new diabetic centre at Sligo University Hospital had effectively been "parked since 2017" and there was "no indication" of when or if the much sought-after Cardio Cath Lab will start at the hospital.

"The irony of Leo overseeing this financial mismanagement while his Minister for Health threatens striking nurses and midwives with financial penalties is not lost on citizens, especially in this region who rightly feel they are being treated as second-class due to our geography," he said.

Cllr MacManus was supported by Fianna Fáil Cllr Rosaleen O'Grady who said the 1.4 billion cost of the hospital "beggared belief."

"The Government has been very economical with the truth about the spiralling costs.

"The Government needs to be up front about what is happening the costs.

"Nobody is accountable. Leo (Varadkar) has to be more than a commentator and that's what he is at the moment.

"He's told us it's bad and it's going to get worse," she told the meeting.

"Here in Sligo we need 50 beds and we need them now. Sligo put forward a programme to Government and they have rejected it.

"We have wonderful roads but no beds in the hospital," she said, adding that the provision of a Cath Lab here had been "kicked down the road."

"In 2018 Leo was again kicking that can down the road. We have to urge our Fine Gael councillors to impress on Government the need for capital expenditure for Sligo," she said.

Sinn Féin Councillor Thomas Healy also supported the motion, describing the rising costs of the children's hospital as "scandalous".

"The Minister should be hanging his head in shame at what's happened," he said.

Cllr MacManus concluded by saying that he thought the silence from Fine Gael (councillors) spoke "volumes of their embarrassment at how this was handled."

Sligo Champion