Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Primary Care Centres Provision
I thank Senator Buttimer for his kind words. As the Senator may be aware, the HSE has responsibility for the provision of primary care centres and other primary care facilities. I am happy to update Senator Buttimer on work being undertaken on the potential provision of a primary care centre in Douglas.
I understand previous efforts by the HSE to secure a primary care centre in the area have proved unsuccessful because of the high cost of suitable sites for developers. However, I am pleased to be able to advise the Senator that Douglas has been included in a recent advertisement by the HSE seeking expressions of interest from developers for the next tranche of 47 centres to be delivered under the operational lease model. This advertisement was published on 3 May and interested parties had up to the 31 May to make submissions. I understand that all bids have now been submitted to HSE estates centrally and that they are currently being compiled. The bids will issue shortly from estates central office for local assessment by the relevant estates offices in conjunction with local primary care staff.
There are a number of distinct phases to be gone through under the operational lease model before a centre can be delivered. After the HSE selects the preferred bidder based on submissions received, a letter of intent issues to that bidder who must then satisfy a number of requirements. Among other things, the bidder must enter into an agreement with GPs to co-locate at the site; provide evidence of ownership or interest in the site; obtain planning permission; and provide evidence that financing for the development is in place. Once these conditions have been satisfied, the HSE signs an agreement for lease with the relevant developer. The HSE will lease the accommodation for the facility which is built to the HSE's specification.
In the case of Douglas, subject to bids to an acceptable level being submitted, the HSE will issue a letter of intent and the process I have just outlined will begin. However, it is important to note that issues can arise during this process, and there is a risk that delivery of a given centre may not be able to proceed for any one of a number of reasons - for example, where planning may be refused or where GPs do not indicate an interest in co-locating. The HSE has informed me that all other options for developing a primary care centre in Douglas have been explored but that, regrettably, nothing suitable has been identified and the recent advertisement for expressions of interest is the best way forward. I am advised that, with the exception of community nurses and the home support office, there is no accommodation for other community services in Douglas and that clients must travel to Cork city centre or the nearby Blackrock Hall primary care centre. As a result, the case for developing a centre in Douglas is clear and fully accepted. It would serve a population of approximately 20,000 people and offer services at a single site. This means that people would no longer have to travel to different places for different services, which would save considerable time and expense. Such a centre would undoubtedly enhance and expand capacity in the community sector in Douglas, enabling us to deliver high-quality, integrated care to people in the locality and on the vision for a reformed health service set out under Sláintecare, namely, "the right care, in the right place, at the right time". It is for these reasons that I very much hope that the recent expression of interest for Douglas will generate a positive response.