The future of funding for two major healthcare projects in Tuam is being left dependant on the perennially over budget National Children’s Hospital.
The HSE currently intends to begin construction work next January on a new Mental Health Campus for Old Grove Hospital in Tuam, as well as the new Tuam Community Nursing Project.
However at a meeting of the Regional Health Forum last week it was said that the overspend on the National Children’s Hospital could have implications for the funding of these projects.
The total projected budget for the Old Grove Hospital’s new Mental Health & Early Intervention facilities is €13 million, of which €355,00 has already been spent.
The Tuam Community Nursing Project has an estimated budget of €19 million, including a donation of €7.2 million from Helen and Joe O’Toole, with approximately €520,000 already spent.
Joe Hoare, HSE West assistant national director of estates, says that both of these projects have been “cash-flowed” in the HSE capital plan over the next several years.
But this capital plan has to be approved on an annual basis, he added, so any funding for work in 2021 won’t be known for certain until the October budget.
Mr Hoare said that there has been even more additional cots associated with the National Children’s Hospital due to work stoppages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any increase in costs for that “will have to be taken on board,” for the Capital Plan 2021, he added, but said that he wasn’t aware of any reason why the Tuam projects wouldn’t proceed.
Mr Hoare was responding to a question from County Councillor Donagh Killilea, who said that he was “dumbfounded” at announcements that the project is moving ahead made by the last government.
Councillor Killilea said that these were “dangerous announcements” to make when “not one single euro” has been confirmed in the HSE budget yet.
He said that people in Tuam will be disappointed to hear this news and have been “misled” by past announcements.
There will be some additional expenditure on design and enabling works for Old Grove Hospital and the Community Nursing Project in 2020.
It’s currently expected that the tender documents will be prepared by late August for both projects, and that the works will go to tender in September.
Mr Hoare said that the current intention is to start construction work on both projects in January 2021, and finish the following year.
The Old Grove Hospital Mental Health Campus has an estimated completion date of January 2022, while it’s hoped the Community Nursing Project will be completed by May 2022.