Wednesday 26 October 2016

Maternity hospitals on the move in €3bn health service plans

Minister for Health Leo Vardakar announced the investment plan
Minister for Health Leo Vardakar announced the investment plan
The Rotunda Hospital will move to Blanchardstonwn as part of the investment plan

A €3bn investment package for the health services over the next six years will see building work begin on major projects in Dublin.

The relocation of the Rotunda Hospital to Blanchardstown, which is in Health Minister Leo Varadkar's Dublin West constituency, was one of the major projects earmarked for development under the health capital programme announced yesterday.

Under the plans, work is expected to begin next year on:

l The new children's hospital at St James's Hospital campus and satellite centres at Blanchardstown and Tallaght

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l The relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent's as the first part of a wider programme to provide new maternity hospital facilities

l Construction of the National Forensic Mental Health Services campus in Portrane

l Development of the new National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire. There will be additional funding provided for the redevelopment of the hospital, which will provide 120 modern replacement beds and associated therapy space.

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Mr Varadkar said the plan provides funding for a major programme of investment which will support the transformation of healthcare facilities.

"Over the period 2016 to 2021, a capital allocation of €3.061bn is being provided," he said. "This includes additional funding of €568m."

Meanwhile, among the other major nationwide projects earmarked for development under the plans include relocating the Rotunda to Blanchardstown, the Coombe to St James's campus, and Limerick Maternity Hospital to University Hospital Limerick in Dooradoyle.

A primary care centre programme, and a national plan for radiation oncology in Cork, Galway and Beaumont will also be financed under the programme, as well as the development of community nursing units for older people and new, improved models of accommodation for people with a disability.

However, the exact timing of the delivery of some of these programmes and projects will depend on planning issues.

Mr Varadkar said he expects the new Central Mental Hospital, National Rehabilitation Hospital, National Children's Hospital and National Maternity Hospital to be completed at the end of the five-year plan.

He expects headway to be made in the planning and design of the new Rotunda Hospital to be built in Connolly Hospital campus and the new Limerick maternity hospital at that stage.

The transfer of the Coombe maternity hospital will take longer because it must wait for the new national children's hospital to be built first, he added.

Mr Varadkar said a lot of the country's healthcare infrastructure was very old and that although 200 years of infrastructure could not be replaced in six years, the funding allocated would allow for a very good start to be made.

Separately, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has defended Minister Varadkar after he told health officials that a senior public servant would be sacked unless the trolley crisis is resolved.


Mr Kenny said Mr Varadkar is perfectly entitled to ensure senior health officials "step up and take responsibility" for the state of the health service.

It emerged today that Mr Varadkar told officials that a "head would have to roll" unless the crisis is sorted out.

In an email sent three weeks ago, Mr Varadkar expressed deep concern about trolley numbers as winter approaches.

"I have no reason to believe it won't be worse than last year and that really means a head or heads will have to roll," he wrote.

"The people or Dail or Taoiseach can take mine in the election or thereafter," he added.

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