Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Delivering Universal Healthcare: Statements


1:30 pm

Photo of Alan KellyAlan Kelly (Tipperary, Labour) | Oireachtas source

It will be no surprise to the Minister what I am going to raise with him. I welcome his announcement last week regarding consideration for a model 3 hospital in the mid-west. It is so obvious. The Mr. Justice Frank Clarke report into Aoife Johnston's passing is imminent. I hope that the former Chief Justice will actually recommend same. I hope that will help the Minister to make such a suggestion. However, I cannot stand here as a TD for Nenagh and say that the decision by the HSE with the Minister to take over the community nursing unit, CNU, in Nenagh, funding for which was secured when I was in government, is acceptable. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul. I am just after walking out of my office where I was on the phone trying to get nursing home care for an elderly neighbour who worked hard all his life. That is what I currently do. I do it every week because we do not have enough elderly care beds. This was meant to help alleviate that. This is so wrong. There were thousands of people on the streets of Nenagh protesting against the Minister, his party, his Government and his supporters. One Government TD in my constituency claimed that he contacted the Minister to suggest this. It is live and up on his Facebook page for everyone to see. I have asked the Minister whether this is true. He has never responded, just as like the many parliamentary question to which he refuses to respond. I will let the Ceann Comhairle deal with those.

Thousands marched on the streets of Nenagh because we need this unit. The elderly of Nenagh and north Tipperary cannot be sacrificed for what went wrong when we were screwed in 2009 by Fianna Fáil. The investment was never put in place. The Minister wrote a letter back to me after I questioned the Taoiseach and said that consultation had taken place with the staff, the residents and their families. This is simply not true; it never happened. I raised it with the Taoiseach again and he assured me it would happen. It still has not happened. How can the Minister stand over this? The HSE has been taken through the industrial relations process for a lack of consultation as per the national wage agreements. Can you imagine that is happening? That is happening this week. It is not an acceptable way to behave. People cannot be treated like this.

When this kicked off, it was announced by the HSE that this would only be until next year. Then it was said it would be a year and a half from a contract being announced. By the way, we are a long way from a contract being announced, if ever there will be a contract because I do not know who would ever do this work. Finally, in the past few weeks, the HSE announced it would only be until the new 96-bed block was opened in Limerick, which I think the Minister endorsed. There was only one issue. The HSE said it would be open in the first quarter of 2025. We are now in May. What is the likelihood of this having any impact whatsoever or even being open or taken over and having any impact, considering the 96-bed block is going to be opened in the first quarter of next year? Will the Minister please do the right thing by the people of north Tipperary, and indeed the wider mid-west, and facilitate and make sure our nursing home, which was built with €24 million of taxpayers' money, is given to the people who need it? I am aware of more than 50 people waiting for nursing home care whose cases I am working with other people on. That is not acceptable.


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