€3 billion capital development

A total of €3 billion is to be invested over six years in the health capital programme, which Health Minister, Dr. Leo Varadkar says will provide funding for a major programme of investment to support the transformation of health care facilities.  Maureen Browne reports.

Health Minister, Dr. Leo Varadkar
Health Minister, Dr. Leo Varadkar

This includes additional funding of €568m for four national hospital projects and five major nationwide projects which are to be undertaken over the period 2016-2021. Work on the capital programme is expected to start next year.

The following are the capital projects which are to receive funding.

The new National Children’s Hospital and its two satellite centres at Blanchardstown (Connolly) and Tallaght hospitals.

The National Maternity Hospital which will be relocated to the St. Vincent’s campus. The Department said plans were at an advanced stage and a design scheme had recently been completed.

The new National Forensic Mental Health Services Campus which will replace the current outdated Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum. It will comprise a 120 bed National Forensic Hospital, a ten bed Mental Health Intellectual Disability Forensic Unit, and a ten bed Child and Adolescent Mental Health Forensic Unit. The Department said that following completion of the main facility, three 30 bed Intensive Care Rehabilitation Units to be located in Portrane, Cork and Galway would be delivered.

The National Rehabilitation Hospital will be redeveloped to provide 120 modern replacement beds and associated therapy space.

Work on the capital programme is expected to start next year.

Community Nursing Units for older people and accommodation for those with disabilities with long term care requirements are to be developed.

The Department says that additional funding of €300m over the later years of the 2016-2021 period will, building upon the existing projects, would allow for an enhanced programme to replace, upgrade and refurbish long term care facilities. This would significantly improve the standard of residential facilities and facilitate person centred care.

The Department also said that the increased funding under the Capital Plan would enable a wider maternity capital programme towards the later years of the period, involving in particular the relocation of the Rotunda to Blanchardstown, the Coombe to St. James’s, and Limerick Maternity Hospital to Dooradoyle. There are approximately 9,000 births annually in the Rotunda and the Coombe and over 4,500 in Limerick Maternity Hospital.

Primary Care Programme

The Department said that over the period the PPP primary care centre project would deliver 14 primary care centres. In addition further primary care centres would be delivered using the operational lease and direct build mechanisms.

The number of newly diagnosed cancers is increasing by 3-4% annually and is projected to more than double in the period to 2040. Over the period to 2021, the new departments at Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Galway are to be completed, delivering five linear accelerators at Cork and four at Galway, and there would be further investment in facilities at Beaumont.

The Department plans to start catching up on ICT modernisation, including a new financial management system, facilitating the provision of important and timely information.