Funding for new A&E at Limerick hospital 'remains unclear'

O'Donnell says Harris 'will fund' ED when it's ready

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Funding for new A&E at Limerick hospital 'remains unclear'

The new wing of UHL, which is due to open later this year

THE HSE and the UL Hospitals Group have indicated that the hugely-anticipated emergency department in Dooradoyle will open in late May.

However, whether the additional €2.7m needed to open the new facility will be available remains unclear, Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan has said. 

According to the HSE’s operational plan for the UL Hospitals Group, the new A&E will see its completion within the next month, and will be “fully operational” in the second quarter of 2017.

And for the first time, the UL Hospitals Group has announced May 29 as the provisional opening date, though it is subject to a successful recruitment campaign and funding. 

Earlier this year, CEO Colette Cowan notified TD Jan O’Sullivan that, while there was a €1.4m funding commitment in the HSE national service plan, to open in May it will need an additional €2.7m.

Fine Gael Senator Kieran O’Donnell told the Leader that if the hospital is ready to open in May, Minister for Health Simon Harris “will provide any funding that is necessary to ensure that it can be opened”.

However, Deputy O’Sullivan said that the availability of the €2.7m remains “unclear”, and that it would be preferable if it was ringfenced for the new A&E ahead of its official opening. 

Sen O’Donnell said when the national service plan indicated that the opening of the A&E was to be deferred to October 2017, he contacted Minister Harris, expressing his concern.

“We already had a deferral from March to May, and I said to him that any further delay is completely unacceptable. So, he gave me a commitment that if it was ready to be open in May, he would ensure that the funding would be made available through the Department. He has subsequently given that commitment in public.”

He added: “As far as I am concerned, it is now, very much, within the remit and control of University Hospital Limerick to ensure that it is ready to be opened.”

According to a staff newsletter on the progress of the new emergency department, 162 interviews have been conducted for the 94 new jobs.

“Of the 30 nursing posts required, 20 applicants have been offered posts subject to clearance and Garda Vetting. Further interviews are taking place over the next two weeks to fill the remaining posts,” the March newsletter states. 

Two new emergency department consultants have been appointed and a further three have been shortlisted to fill the final vacant post.