Thursday, 27 January 2022
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Healthcare Infrastructure Provision
Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach as an ábhar seo a chur ar an gclár oibre inniu. Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit go dtí an Teach. I wish to speak briefly today about two very important projects in the Galway-Roscommon region in relation to our health service. One is the building that is now being built at Portiuncula hHspital.If I am not mistaken, it received planning permission in 2017. The building is badly needed for patient accommodation.
The second project is at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon. The Minister of State has often spoken up for it. The hospital has been an important part of our health services for many years. The Government has given the go-ahead for a 50-bed unit there.
I will once again pay tribute to the staff of both hospitals. We must acknowledge that hospitals must still be alert and careful because Covid can, unfortunately, come and go. I hope that it is coming to an end.
I am asking for an update on both projects. I understand that the deadline for opening at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe is mid-summer. Is it on schedule? Planning permission has been extended. Once completed, will there be a quick opening date? The Minister of State and I will accept that the hospital's staff have been working in terrible conditions. In that regard, I express my thanks to the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, the Minister of State, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Deputy Harris, who visited us and pushed this project on when he was the Minister for Health, and the Minister of State with responsibility for older people, Deputy Butler. Without doubt, their support has been vital.
Considerable work has been done on the Sacred Heart Hospital project. I acknowledge not only the Government's support for the project in this year's budget, but the Minister of State's support through the years. I understand that a planning application for the project was to be submitted to Roscommon County Council in December but it has not arrived. I have no reason to believe there is any problem or that the project has been delayed. It may just be a matter of Covid holding things up. I look forward to the planning application being put before Roscommon County Council in the near future.
Clarification on these two projects would be welcome. I thank the Minister of State for attending the House to deal with my queries.
I thank the Senator for raising this issue and giving me the opportunity to outline to the House the position on capital commitments at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe and Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon.
Portiuncula Hospital is an acute general and maternity hospital that delivers a patient-centred, quality-driven and quality-focused service and provides a wide range of diagnostic and support services. The hospital's catchment area includes patients residing in east Galway, Roscommon, the midlands and the mid-west.
The construction of the 50-bed ward block is an important project for the hospital and will deliver replacement accommodation in line with current standards. A contractor was appointed for the enabling works contract and work commenced on 11 August 2020. The enabling works project was completed in May 2021 and dealt with a number of legacy issues as well as preparing for the 50-bed project. As part of these works, the entire electrical and natural gas network has been upgraded and the medical gas infrastructure has been modified and upgraded. Tender documents for the 50-bed ward block project have been issued to the shortlisted contractors and were returned in December 2021. It is intended that the contract for this development will be awarded in quarter 1 of 2022.
The HSE's capital programme provides for the construction of a 50-bed long-stay facility at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon. The Government's overarching policy objective is to support our older population in living in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. The standard of care delivered to residents in public units is generally very high, but we recognise that many of our community hospitals are housed in buildings that are less than ideal in the modern context. Without them, though, many older people would not have access to the care they need. It is important, therefore, that we upgrade our public bed stock. This is the aim of the capital investment programme for community nursing units.
The Sacred Heart Hospital is currently a 95-bed older persons care home and rehabilitation hospital situated in Roscommon town. It provides 80 older persons' long-term care beds and 15 short-term palliative, rehabilitation and respite care beds. The development of the new 50-bed long-stay facility is at detailed design stage. The project's design process has commenced and will take approximately 12 months to complete, including securing planning permission for the development. At that point, the project can move to the next stage of the public spending code. All capital development proposals must progress through a number of approval stages in line with the public spending code. The delivery of capital projects is a dynamic process and is subject to the successful completion of the various approval stages, which can impact on the timeline for delivery.
That was a positive response on the crucial developments at Portiuncula Hospital and Sacred Heart Hospital. I was delighted to hear the Minister of State say that, as part of the works on the former, the electrical and natural gas network had been upgraded and the medical gas infrastructure had been modified and upgraded.
I hope that we can move the project at Sacred Heart Hospital ahead as quickly as possible. I expect the planning application to be before Roscommon County Council shortly, after which it will be full steam ahead.
I pay tribute to all the staff at both hospitals. I also pay tribute to the HSE staff who are bringing these projects forward. We have had many meetings, some arguments and lots of discussion, but both projects are proceeding well. It is important that we get them in place as quickly as possible.
As the Senator knows, the Government is committed to ensuring that Portiuncula Hospital can continue to deliver patient-centred, quality-driven and quality-focused service and provide a wide range of diagnostic and support services to meet the needs of its catchment area. The construction of the 50-bed ward is good news for the people of east Galway, Roscommon, the midlands and the mid-west.
Strategic reform in the model of delivery of care for older people is under way in pursuit of the policy goal of supporting older people in living independently in their own homes and communities for longer. Community nursing units will continue to play a vital part in an overall continuum of care for older people over the coming years as our older population increases in line with demographic trends. The continued implementation of the community nursing unit programme, including the 50-bed long-stay facility at Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon, will contribute to achieving that.
I thank the staff at the two hospitals for their great work and I thank the Senator for raising this very important issue.