Site of new emergency department at UHL Picture: Michael Cowhey
A MAJOR 96-bed unit at University Hospital Limerick is one step closer to being built, as a senior official in the HSE has confirmed that the design phase for the facility is to commence within the next fortnight.
The news comes as there are 43 patients being treated on trolleys at UHL, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, which is again the highest figure in the country.
HSE interim national director Liam Woods has confirmed that it will formally approve the design stage of the €25m project, and that a team will be formed within the next five months.
The €1m funding for the design stage acts as a “seed fund” provided by the HSE, ahead of its national capital plan review this May, where the financing of the unit will be reviewed.
In December, Senator Kieran O’Donnell wrote to Minister for Health Simon Harris and the HSE director general, Tony O’Brien, urging the HSE to active the €1m for the design stage.
“This is very welcome news for Limerick and ensures that no further time is lost in progressing the provision of this urgently needed extra acute bed capacity at UHL in Dooradoyle. Getting this design phase underway is the vital first step in advancing this critical project for the patients and staff at UHL,” he said in a statement on Wednesday night.
He said that this project will complement the opening of the new A&E, which is expected to be open this May, subject to a successful recruitment campaign and HSE funding.
"Whilst the opening of the new state of the art A&E at UHL will make a difference, it is only one side of the equation, the other being the building of this 96 Acute beds unit alongside it.
"With the design phase now underway, I will be campaigning for this UHL 96 acute beds unit project to be included in this year's National Capital Plan review and the construction costs of €25m to be funded.”
Sen O’Donnell said that the interim national director of the HSE told him that the new 96-acute bed unit is a “priority”.