The Sacred Heart Hospital in Castlebar will be brought up to HIQA standards in time for the 2015 deadline, following the announcement on Wednesday that €11 million was being sanctioned for the necessary refurbishment works by the HSE. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has welcomed the announcement that the hospital has now been included in the HSE's Capital Programme.
Approval has been granted for the progression of planning and design for the refurbishment and extension of three long-stay wards and one rehabilitation ward based on the hospital's inclusion in the HSE West 10-year action plan Public Residential Service 2013 - 2023. The Stage Two Cost Plan must then be approved to progress the project further.
The €11 million will fund all costs including construction, design, and equipment. The budget will then be reviewed on receipt of the Stage 2 Cost Report with the capital allocation for 2013 totalling €200,000.
The Taoiseach said: “I warmly welcome the news that €11 million has been allocated by the HSE to secure the future of the Sacred Heart Hospital. Late last year, Minister for Health James Reilly and I visited the hospital where we met with officials and heard their views as to the future direction the hospital should take and I welcome the fact that the HSE's decision is reflective of those views. I also commend the Fine Gael town and county councillors on their efforts in this regard.
“The Sacred Heart Hospital has long been at the very core of community life in Castlebar, providing an exceptional standard of care. This can now continue to be the case for many years to come which is good news indeed for the people of Castlebar and its surrounds.”
Mayor of Castlebar, Cllr Brendan Henaghan has welcomed this “good news story” for Castlebar after “all the scaremongering and concern about its future”.
“Great credit is due to the local HSE team for putting the application in and getting it through successfully. Also great credit is due to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, our local TD, and the local Fine Gael councillors who have been working closely with the HSE executive since Enda Kenny became Taoiseach to make sure the best possible deal is got for the Sacred Heart. We hope to continue this work to secure the future of all health services in Castlebar.
“The nature of the provision of services at the Sacred Heart Hospital may change over the years but at least we will have a state of the art building and the future is safe for a Castlebar institution,” he told the Mayo Advertiser.
Castlebar town councillor Ger Deere was also quick to welcome the announcement. He reiterated that for nearly three years the four Fine Gael town councillors have been meeting with HSE management to discuss how to progress the health services in the town.
Cllr Deere and Cllr Noreen Heston met with Minster for Health Dr James Reilly last year in Dublin about the Sacred Heart Hospital, when he outlined that an application would be necessary to secure capital funding. “We spoke to HSE management and advised them of the situation and they submitted an application,” Cllr Deere explained.
“Always in our negotiations patients, staff, and families were foremost in our considerations,” he added.
He alluded to the “undue stress and anxiety caused to patients and staff due to the scaremongering that is going on” and pointed out that Fianna Fáil councillors Al McDonnell and Blackie Gavin had only one meeting with the HSE before the decision was due on the application for funding in comparison to Fine Gael’s monthly meetings since the last elections.“No one can doubt our commitment to it. The campaign launched by Fianna Fáil was just jumping on the bandwagon and the Facebook page proves it,” he added referring to a comment on the Save the Sacred Heart Facebook page in which the contributor threatens: “If they close this hospital il [sic] shoot Enda Kenny JFK assassination style”.
Cllr Deere has since reported the comment to An Garda Siochana.
Conor Smyth, member of Fianna Fáil and organiser of the community protests at the Sacred Heart Hospital last month expressed genuine delight at this week’s announcement. “It’s brilliant news. I’m delighted to see this investment coming to Castlebar. Let the work commence,” an overjoyed Mr Smyth told the Mayo Advertiser.
In relation to last month’s protest he said the community voiced their opinions. “I believe the protest assisted in the project being brought forward,” he said but added that he wasn’t interested in making it a political issue. “Because I’m a member of Fianna Fáil doesn’t mean I’m not part of the Castlebar and Mayo community. It’s a great result for the people of Mayo. It’s very important some of these services are kept in the public service,” he added.
In relation to the offending Facebook comment, Mr Smyth said he chose not to delete it as he didn’t believe it was meant seriously. He said if any offence was taken to comments he would remove them, but he had not received any request to that effect.