LOCAL FG junior minister Jim Daly has hit back at comments made in last week’s Southern Star by his Fianna Fail colleague Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony claiming delays in upgrading works to local hospitals.
Deputy Daly said the ‘ongoing issuing of negative press releases’ by Fianna Fail in relation to West Cork’s community hospitals ‘is disappointing, and I can only assume it’s in desperation to make a headline, in a region that is a hive of activity as a result of government investment in the area.’
The Minister of State at the Department of Health said that when Fianna Fail were in office over the past number of decades they entirely neglected community healthcare facilities in West Cork. ‘They never sanctioned any funding for major extensions or redevelopment of these cherished assets. They also presided over bed reductions and ward closures when they were last in office,’ he said.
In contrast to this, he added, Fine Gael has provided funding to extend, upgrade and modernise all community hospitals in West Cork, and has also recently approved a €10m development of Bantry General Hospital, the only acute hospital in the region. ‘To see Fianna Fail trying to take a swipe at government because these projects that total nearly €35m of investment are running behind schedule by a few months, is regrettable and petty behaviour,’ he added.
‘I want to assure the people of West Cork that proposals for the following Community Hospitals are well advanced, some are completed, and more have started construction. Crucially, the funding is secured for all projects.’
He explained that: a full new build for Bandon Community Hospital providing 25 beds at a cost of €3.5m is how complete; the 40-bed St Anne’s Skibbereen unit is currently under construction and will provide 12 new single ensuite rooms with a full refurbishment of all other wards, is on target to be completed by next September at a cost of €3.7m; the €1.1m works to Dunmanway’s 23-bed St Anthony’s unit are focused on dining, living and recreational areas, and works are due to be completed next February.
He continued that: Kinsale Community Hospital received €1.2m in funding four years ago for lifts, fire escapes and a number of single rooms, and now has received planning permission for full refurbishment of all other rooms at an estimated cost of €5m; a €2.7m extension and full renovation to the 30-bed St Joseph’s unit at Castletownbere will include single rooms, palliative care suites and recreational spaces, is under construction and will be completed next August or September.
‘Finally, we have received planning permission for a €6m redevelopment of Clonakilty hospital. This project will go to tender before the end of the year with diggers on site early in 2020,’ he said.