WATCH: Fianna Fail TD and Minister spark confusion over opening date of Limerick hospital block

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Email:

fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

TWO FIANNA Fail TDs, including a junior minister, has sparked confusion after announcing publicly that the new 60-bed block at University Hospital Limerick will be open next month—despite no official opening date. 

The €19.5m four-storey block has been anticipated for delivery for the past three years, and has been as part of the solution in assuaging Limerick’s acute trolley crisis. 

The UL Hospitals Group has maintained that the block will be open by the end of the year, in addition to other bed capacity in response to the pandemic. To date, it has not given an official opening date. 

However, Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill and Minister of State Mary Butler TD, publicly stated that the unit would be open by November 9, after completion on October 30. 

In response to a query by Senator Martin Conway on an update of the project, Minister Butler told the Seanad: “It is expected to be completed by the 30th of October, 2020. Once the three 20-bed wards in the new building are stocked with consumables and given a final clean, they are expected to be ready to be put into operation by Monday, the ninth of November, 2020.” 

She added: “I am sure the people of that particular area will welcome this news today.”

In a Twitter thread at 11am this Wednesday, Deputy Cahill said “Cahill announces completion of 60 bed ward block in [UL Hospitals], ‘tagging’ the UL Hospitals Group, its CEO Prof Colette Cowan, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and various media outlets. 

“We know that this winter is going to challenge the health service in a way it’s never been challenged before, and additional beds such as these will be essential in order to keep the pressure off our services over the winter months and long after,” he tweeted. 

In a statement issued to the Limerick Leader, a spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group said: “We have not announced an opening date for the 60-bed Block. Recruitment is ongoing in respect of the new capacity and we look forward to the opening of these beds before the end of this year.”

“A new 60 bed ward block project was established to provide a rapid build interim solution to begin to address the bed capacity issue at UHL in response to the National Capacity Review by the Department of Health.

“The €19.5m four-storey ward block will provide an additional 60 beds for the hospital, all single patient rooms with ensuites. The additional single rooms will help to improve patient comfort, safety, privacy and dignity and assist with the management of infection control in the hospital.

“It is anticipated that the new beds will be operational by Q4 2020. This is in line with the HSE National Service Plan 2020.”