A new eleven bay unit at South Tipperary General Hospital which has helped alleviate overcrowding
Two Tipperary Dail deputies have become embroiled in a war of words regarding the long awaited opening of a 40 bed modular unit at an overcrowded South Tipperary General Hospital.
Heated exchanges between Deputy Mattie McGrath and Deputy Michael Lowry took place this week after Deputy McGrath expressed concerns that the unit was significantly behind target.
In a statement, Deputy McGrath said Minister Harris, when he last questioned him on the matter, said the unit would be open in the first quarter of 2019 which, said Deputy McGrath, was “entirely delusional”.
Deputy McGrath also expressed concern over funding for equipment and staffing for the unit and suggested that the unit may not be ready at all this year because of the massive overspend on the national children's hospital.
That statement prompted Deputy Lowry to respond with a personalised attack on his Oireachtas colleague on Monday and on Tuesday Deputy McGrath responded.
Deputy Lowry said “Mattie is a great man at finding fault, he specialises in criticism but is very short on solutions. He has a poor record on delivering results for the hospital”
Deputy Lowry reminded his critics that the hospital was listed for downgrading in 2007 and for years the hospital was in limbo, completely ignored, sidelined with no investment.
Deputy Lowry said he would not apologise for the fact that his political intervention had heralded a solid stable future for the hospital.
“Unlike others I prefer to be positive, to be constructive, to get things done, to find solutions and achieve results” insisted Deputy Lowry. He said the cloud of doubt over the hospital had now been lifted.
Addressing the delays in the delivery of the 40 bed modular unit, Deputy Lowry said it was a major project , it took time and the benefits of the additional bed complement would be enormous.
“While the new 40 bed modular unit did incur delays outside of my control, significant progress has been made. The site has been cleared. Services such as water, sanitation and drains have been put in place. Foundations and plinth base for the modular units is almost complete. The modular frames which are in safe and secure storage in Cahir will be delivered to the site in the next three weeks. The link bridge between the hospital and the new unit is completed.
Deputy Lowry said the capital cost of the project, €12million had been provided for and additional funds will be required for equipment and the day to day costs to staff and run the unit. A business case prepared by management is being dealt with by the HSE nationally.
He said 2019 would see further development of facilities and services at the hospital including upgrading of the laboratory ,refurbishment of coronary care unit and acute medical assessment unit, upgrade of kitchenettes and a new internal pagins system and improvements to the front entrance.
Deputy Mattie McGrath, in response, said patients and staff were still waiting for a project that Deputy Lowry said would be delivered in 2016.
Deputy McGrath said Deputy Lowry had claimed that he had sought to find fault with the project at every turn.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. What I have sought is political accountability and delivery. This unit was first announced in the summer of 2016 by Deputy Lowry. According to statements he made at the time, it would be an ideal vehicle to address capacity issues because of the speed that such projects would be delivered. Yet every sorry twist and turn of this saga has shown that statement to be demonstrably false” he said.
Deputy McGrath said all staff at the hospital were trying their best to deliver clinical excellence in one of the most “dysfunctional and inadequate periods of health care provision in the history of the state and under the alleged political leadership of a Minister that is being kept in office only through the support of members like Deputy Lowry” he said.
Deputy McGrath said over that time he had relentlessly challenged Minister Harris regarding the opening date of the unit
He was told in January of last year in a Parliamentary Reply that the unit was “targeted for completion in the latter quarter of 2018”
“After I again raised the matter with both the Minister and the HSE I was told that the unit was now scheduled to be operational in quarter 1 of 2019.
“Now we have confirmation from the HSE that it will actually be quarter 3 of this year and only then after a review of what equipment is needed and subject to recruitment of sufficient st aff”, he said.
“Deputy Lowry is certainly proving himself very useful as a person who will promote the government's appalling spin on the delivery and improvement of the health service.
“My political focus is on getting the job done. In this context that means demanding political accountability and delivery of this project. That is something I will continue to do while Deputy Lowry tries his level best to distract people with baseless and self-interested political criticisms,” concluded Deputy McGrath.