Seanad debates

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Commencement Matters

Hospital Services

2:30 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Senator Barrett for raising this matter and for giving me the opportunity to advise the House on the proposed sale of the old Baggot Street Hospital complex. This facility, like much of our health-care infrastructure, dates from around the mid-1800s. As a consequence it is of limited use as suitable accommodation for the delivery of modern health services. The complex also contains a number of protected structures.

Therefore, given the age of the complex and its protected status, the cost of upgrading the buildings to meet modern standards for health-care accommodation would be prohibitive. If it were still in use as an inpatient hospital, we would be planning to rebuild it on a new site, as we are with other hospitals of a similar vintage, like the Rotunda, Holles Street and Temple Street, for example, all of which will be replaced by new modern hospitals in the next ten years.

The inability of older facilities like Baggot Street Hospital to respond to changing health-care needs and medical technologies impedes the efficient delivery of modern health care and the development of clear care pathways. Old facilities also have much higher recurring costs. The costs of meeting sustainability targets on energy alone would be prohibitive. The national energy efficiency action plan sets a public sector energy efficient target of reducing energy usage by 33% per annum which is to be achieved by 2020.

In addition, the HSE must comply with the Government's green procurement guidelines. These require public bodies to ensure that a minimum building energy rating of B3 is achieved in all new build and leased buildings from January 2012. From January 2015 the minimum rating is A3. We have to reduce the number of environments where inadequate infrastructure is determining how resources are spent.

In an improving property market, the HSE sees an opportunity to leverage the sale of Baggot Street Hospital. The proceeds of the sale will deliver accommodation for primary care and community services in central Dublin. The balance of the proceeds will fund modern accommodation for mental health services. The new primary-care and community-care facilities and the redevelopment of the old hospital complex will revitalise the surrounding area.

It is Government policy to enable people to easily access a broad spectrum of services in the community through their local primary care team. Therefore, the development of primary-care health services is central to the Government's objective to deliver a high-quality, integrated and cost-effective health-care system. This ensures health care is delivered in the most appropriate and economic setting. Our key objective is to ensure that the right facilities are provided to support best practice models of care, and that they are suitably located, efficiently designed and appropriately procured to serve the health needs of communities. In addition to providing the most appropriate health care to the local resident population, those employed in the surrounding area may also access these services.


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