A Clare TD has expressed disappointed with the slow progress on delivering the new Community Nursing Unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Dr. Michael Harty (Ind) said he has been told by the Minister for Health that construction will not be completed until 2021. The Government has committed €12 million for the development of 50 new beds.
“There is something dysfunctional about our design, planning and development systems that it takes four years to complete a modest but urgent building unit. The same snail’s pace in advancing the build of social housing seems also to apply to the health sector. It is unacceptable in the 21st century that we accept methods of doing things simply because that is the way they always have been done.
“For example, I’ve been told that the design team will be appointed by the end of this year but the design and planning won’t be completed until the end of next year. This is far too long and far too slow but the story gets worse. The tendering process will commence in the second quarter of 2019 and the contractor will be appointed towards the end of that year. Finally, construction will be completed sometime in 2021 – if the project progresses in accordance with the projected timeline. The whole thing is either far too leisurely or the bureaucracy is too cumbersome.
“The Minister has pointed out to me that all healthcare developments, including St. Joseph’s, must comply with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidelines and EU directives and will require a lead-in time to complete the various stages. According to the Department, these stages include appraisal, project brief, design feasibility, detailed design, some of which may overlap, the review of costing estimates and finalisation of financing. All of that is more or less understandable, what isn’t clear is why it must take so long. I have raised this issue with the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Health and I would expect that the project will be advanced at a more rapid rate.
“The care of elderly at St. Joseph’s is constrained by their physical environment and not by the care delivered by the nursing and care staff. HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) has very pointedly objected to the institutionalisation of residents whose life revolves around their bed and who feel that this is the best that life can offer in their final years. Now they will be forced to languish for another four years at best without the facilities which would allow them to live a normal life commensurate with their physical condition. We are failing them badly by the slow pace of developing this project,” said Dr. Harty.