Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the HSE to clarify what exactly is preventing the delivery of the proposed 40-bed modular unit at South Tipperary General Hospital.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister confirmed to him in a Parliamentary Reply that the so called ‘Patient Hotel’ is merely “targeted for completion in the latter quarter of 2018:”
“This is more foot dragging of the worst kind from the Minister and indeed from the HSE.
“It is now almost 2 years since this plan was first aired in a blaze of premature glory by Deputy Michael Lowry and now it looks like it will be at least another year before it becomes operational.
“The Minister must know that when he speaks of ‘targeted completion’ dates that this amounts to absolutely nothing in terms of real world commitments and guarantees of improved services for patients.
“Just last night the government and Minister Harris accepted a motion on the need to radically address the chronic overcrowding in our A&Es; yet here this morning the same Minister is telling us that the only thing he can really promise is more and more delays for the patients and families of South Tipperary.
“We need immediate fast tracking of the tender process and immediate action on this project or any other alternative that will address the dangerous lack of capacity at South Tipperary General. What we do not need is meaningless talk about ‘targeted completion’ dates,” concluded Deputy McGrath.
However, Independent Deputy Michael Lowry has dismissed suggestions that the unit won't be ready on time. He told local media this week that there had been “excellent progress” made by the HSE and local hospital management, and downplayed suggestions that the Clonmel Hospital modular unit will not be in place by next winter. Deputy Lowry said it was his understanding that the progress of the last three or four months meant that the unit was “going according to plan”, and would be ready for the winter of 2018/'19. Two tenders have been put out, and staff recruitment is already underway. The cost of the units is estimated in the region of €10m.