Minister Varadkar has confirmed to me that the new €17.6 million state-of-the-art 75 bed ward block are additional beds for UHG.
I was dismayed and disappointed to read a statement by Senator Hildegarde Naughton this week which said that the new 75 bed ward block would not result in a single extra bed for UHG.
The statement is disheartening to those of us, with the honour of serving as a TD, who go to Dublin and do our absolute best to secure investment for Galway.
Knowing the statement to be incorrect I immediately contacted Minister Leo Varadkar who has confirmed to me that the 75 beds in the new ward block are indeed additional beds for UHG.
In response to the problem of overcrowding the new ward block is in addition to the existing accommodation. Some of the older wards will be renovated on a phased basis and while this may mean a loss of some beds there will be a significant net gain of beds for UHG.
Furthermore, the new block comprises 75 single en-suite rooms which provides for more comfort for patients and reduces the risk of infection.
Minister Varadkar also informed me that all consents are now in place to allow the new Emergency Department to go to design and has committed to providing funding for this much-needed development.”
Email from Minister Leo Varadkar
Further to our telephone conversation, the position is as follows.
Capital and current funding has been provided to equip and staff 30 additional beds in Galway. 15 of these are open and the remainder will in the next few week once staff are recruited.
Construction is underway on a new state-of-the-art block with 75 single bed rooms. This is important especially for patients who need to be isolated for infection control reasons and for end-of-life patients. The original plan was that these would be replacement beds. However, it is now intended that these will be additional beds. This is reflection of my decision to reverse the policy of reducing hospital bed capacity which is a legacy of governments past. It is also a response to overcrowding in the hospital and a recognition that the workload of the hospital is likely to increase as the specialist centre for Connaught.
Some of the older wards will need to be renovated on a phased basis from 2017 onwards and some beds may be lost as a result but there will still be a significant net gain in bed capacity overall.
In relation to the new Emergency Department, I am informed by the Director General all consents necessary are in place to allow this project to proceed to design and capital appraisal. I anticipate that funding will be provided for construction as part of the 2018 capital review provided the economy continues to grow.
I hope this clarifies matters.