Former Envoironment Minister Alan Kelly has labelled Deputy Michael Lowry as being 'irresponsible” and accused him of having 'jumped the gun' in relation to announcements about a proposed modular patient hotel at South Tipperary General Hospital.
The Labour TD told The Tipperary Star, on foot of the announcement of the HSE's Winter Initiative, that it is the responsibility of elected representatives to appropriately manage peoples expectations - a duty Deputy Lowry failed, he said.
“It was totally irresponsible and unacceptable for Lowry to lead people to believe that such a facility could be in place for this winter. It is the duty of all public reps particularly TD's to behave responsibly and to manage peoples expectation. Unfortunately he didn't do this and jumped the gun trying to claim credit as usual. Of course this is another promise in a long line of promises that have never materialised.
“It was impossible, given the requirement of tendering, procurement, planning, staffing, HIQUA registration and site works for this to be in place this winter. As spokepersonn on health and a member of the two health committees in the Oireachtas, I speak to the Minister and the senior management in the HSE many times every week and they made this point clear to me as well,” he said.
While stating that mention of the patient hotel is made in the HSE report, there is no funding of any kind being made available, Deputy Kelly said.
And, while he added that it might be a viable medium term option and if the HSE were to deem it value for money, he would back it, he added that it was misleading to suggest that it could be in place in time for the winter.
Deputy Kelly also added that what STGH needs is a development control plan (DCP) for future expansions and development of the very large hospital site.
“The HSE have informed me of all the captial requirementrs they have in order to develop that site and they are as follows:
*The emergency department of four bays to be completed this year.
*The provision of an extension to the radiology department to accommodate the CT Scanner and future MRI.
*The fit out of the first floor shell.
*The development of a new Out Patient Department suite in the vacant St Michaels Ward.
*The refurbishment of the paedriatric department to include the removal of the portacabins.
*The relocation of CCU and CCU-stepdown and related areas to create a cleaner, safter environment.
*The creation of a care of the elderly day hospital wing to address ageing population demands and enable admission avoidance.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Lowry spoke with the Minister Simon Harris and again restated the merits of Modular Unit Accommodation for STGH.
The Minister reminded him that this is the first time that a HSE officialised document had formally referenced and included a Patient Hotel for Clonmel. He stated the initiative was still in the progression stage and the Health Service Executive (HSE) were committed to progressing the unit in parallel with the upcoming ‘Winter Initiative’.
“It was originally intended to fast track this project but it is now accepted that because of its nature and scale planning will have to be sought and the unit subject to national procurement policy. Taking account of the preparation and planning application and the statutory times involved in the planning process we are talking in terms of 12-14 weeks. The Minister has informed me that he was concerned in that context, that we are going to miss the ‘winter bulge’ activity in the hospital,” Deputy Lowry said before emphasising his thorough commitment to swift progress on the matter, highlighting that the delivery of this Modular Unit will require further intense effort, commitment and the dovetailing of a number of processes including procurement, planning, building and staffing.