THE European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed in principle to invest €70 million in 14 primary health care centres around the country, including a public-private partnership at Lord Edward Street in Limerick city.
Planning permission is already in place for the projects and confirmation of EIB finance - providing 50% of the total projected funding - could see the health centres completed by late next year or early 2017 depending on the size of the building.
Welcoming the announcement of the EIB loan - the first time the EU institution has approved finance for capital health projects in Ireland - Labour’s Cllr Elena Secas said that once open, the Limerick primary care centre would provide occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work, speech and language therapy and home help as well as general practice services to the community around Lord Edward Street and Ballinacurra Weston.
“The new primary care centre in Limerick city will enhance local health services and bring the benefits of such health care delivery closer to communities,” declared Cllr Secas.
“The experience of primary care centres in the rest of the country has been hugely beneficial to communities and the Limerick city project is a further step towards delivering the right care where it matters most.
“Work on the Limerick centre is due to start in January 2016 and it is hoped that the project will be completed as soon as possible in around 12 months. The centre will be open at least five days a week with extra hours at weekends and evenings for some services,” she added.
The primary health centres that have spring up around the country in recent years have been delivered through direct build by the HSE and, in cases like King’s Island health centre, through operational lease arrangements.
The 14 now being funded through the EIB by the European Fund for Strategic Investment are the first centres to be delivered through the PPP mechanism.
Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Primary and Social Care, said: “Up to 95% of our healthcare should be delivered in the community. Developing our infrastructure to provide better facilities and ultimately better and safer care in the community has been a priority for the Government.
“This support from the EIB is validation of our policy. These centres will be home to services ranging from physiotherapy to speech and language therapy.
“It is a further step towards delivering the right care in the right place at the right time,” Minister Lynch added.