The contract has been awarded for the construction of the new 40-bed unit at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel
Significant progress has been made on the provision of an extension to South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel, with the announcement that the contract for the construction of the new 40-bed unit has been awarded.
Healthcare Accommodation and Staffing Solutions (HASS), a company based in Hertfordshire in England, and which has an office in Dublin, has been awarded the contract to build the extension, which was sanctioned by Health Minister Simon Harris last September to deal with chronic overcrowding at the Clonmel hospital.
The news has been welcomed by Tipperary Deputies Michael Lowry and Seamus Healy.
Approximately 80 jobs will be created when the new unit opens towards the end of this year or early next year.
It's expected that the extension will improve conditions at the hospital, which has experienced one of the highest rates of overcrowding in the country for the last few years.
"The project is well underway", says Deputy Lowry.
"It's happening, it's a reality and I'm delighted that it has been delivered and that the work is ongoing".
He said that the layout and design drawn up by HASS for the new building was now ready to be signed off by the HSE and hospital management.
"The enabling works are already underway and already there's a lot of activity on the site".
Deputy Lowry said that Nevin Construction had levelled the site and were providing the water, sewage and drainage works to service the new building.
It's anticipated that an application for planning permission will be lodged in the middle of June.
He said the procurement of the equipment was also underway and he expected the unit to be commissioned by the end of November or early December.
Deputy Lowry said tremendous progress had been made and he paid tribute to the "huge level of inter-action and spirit of co-operation" between the HSE, hospital management and the hospital consultants, which had advanced the project to this stage.
Deputy Seamus Healy, meanwhile, said that the extension was something that the Save Our Acute Hospital Services had requested for a long time.
The committee had met several Health ministers, including James Reilly, Leo Varadkar and current Minister Simon Harris, in their campaign to have the new unit approved.
They had also asked the Minister to facilitate meetings with hospital management and management of the HSE's south west hospital group to keep the pressure on.
Deputy Healy said that a lease contract had been agreed, which meant that HASS would build the unit and maintain it for up to five years before it was transferred into the ownership of the HSE.
He said the 80 jobs that would be created in the operation of the unit would include nurses, healthcare assistants, cardio technicians, radiography and support staff.
Deputy Healy said it was hoped to have the extension up and running by next January. Staff would be recruited and the equipment procured so that the new building would "hit the ground running" once it was built.
He said there would be a separate contract to build a bridge connecting the unit with the existing hospital.