Concern has been expressed about the future of a planned 50 bed unit at Portiuncula Hospital due to cost overruns at the National Children’s Hospital.
Galway East TD Eugene Murphy has raised concerns about the viability of funding for Portiuncula with the Children’s Hospital’s current price tag of €1.7 billion expected to take up much of the health budget.
The HSE said in February that planing permission had been granted for the project and that tenders were being prepared, with a view towards commencing work this year.
However that came with a note of caution that the timeline for work is completely subject to funding, and that no money will be allocated to any project until the 2019 Capital Plan is agreed on.
“The promises made by the Minister in the most recent PQ ring rather hollow as all of these promises depend on inclusion in the HSE Capital Plan,” Deputy Murphy said.
Reading between the lines of the Minister’s comments on “having regard to available capital funding, the number of large national capital projects currently underway, the cash flow requirements attaching to each project and the relevant priority”, Eugene Murphy said he would still be concerned.
“Bed space and overall capacity is reaching critical levels at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe and the new 50 bed unit at the hospital is shovel ready and just awaiting the green light by Government.”
But he added that “It looks unlikely this will happen anytime soon.”
More than €100 million in savings in this year’s Capital Budget will have to be found to cover the cost overruns at the Children’s Hospital.
More than half of those saving will have to be made by the Department of Health, which is likely to have a significant impact on infrastructure projects.