Limerick faces 'a winter of torture' due to delay in 60-bed block

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent


Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Limerick faces 'a winter of torture' due to delay in 60-bed block

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick could face another “winter of torture” if the Government does not deliver the promised 60-bed block. 

That is according to Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan who has described the delay of a 60-bed block as “a betrayal”. 

On Monday night, Clare TD, Dr Michael Harty announced that he will be supporting Sinn Fein’s motion of no confidence in Minister for Health Simon Harris. 

He said that he had initially intended to abstain from voting in this Wednesday’s motion as he did not want the Government to “fall at such a critical time” during Brexit uncertainty. 

However, his decision to support Sinn Fein’s motion was triggered by the “shocking news” that the crucial €19.5m project will not be delivered until “at least mid-2020”. 

In an interview with the Limerick Leader this Tuesday morning, Deputy O’Sullivan condemned the Government for giving a financial commitment to the project back in November 2018. 

“To give a direct commitment and then going back on it is completely unacceptable,” she said. 

She is now calling on the Minister to make available the funding needed to see the 60-bed block built in order to avoid a “winter of torture”. 

Her comments come on the morning of the highest rate of overcrowding in 2019 so far for any hospital, as there were 69 patients being treated on trolleys in the emergency department and in this wards this Tuesday. 

Mayor James Collins has hit out at this expected delay.

He said that Limerick needs 300 beds now, and it seems that the 60 beds that have been promised will not be delivered any time soon.

He expressed disappointment that the 60 beds will not be delivered on time for the winter season of 2019/2020. 

"This is an example of scarce resources, this time in health, being diverted away from Limerick as a result of the overrun, albeit much needed, project in Dublin [National Children's Hospital]."

A statement on the 60-bed block by UL Hospitals Group was referenced in Dr Harty’s statement on Monday. It said: 

A planning application was lodged in June 2018 for the proposed extension to the existing hospital to provide a new 60-bed ward block at University Hospital Limerick and a notification of grant of permission was issued on 3rd October 2018.

“The objective has been to have the new beds available at the earliest opportunity subject to allocation of funding to deliver the project. The tendering process was completed by September 2018 and it was hoped at that time, subject to funding provision, that the works could be completed by the end of 2019.

“A steering group was established to begin the internal planning process for this new facility. The group is tasked with planning for the opening of the beds, which includes staffing levels and bed usage etc.

“UL Hospitals Group understands that the draft HSE Capital Plan 2019 is due to be submitted to the Department of Health shortly.

“It will then be subject to the approval of the Minister for Health and the sanction of the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure.”

The UL Hospitals Group has been contacted to confirm if it is possible that the bed block can be delivered in 2019.