The new elective hospital proposed for Galway may not be located at Merlin Park as expected, and may not even begin construction within the next three years, according to a long serving city councillor.
Independent Galway City East councillor Declan McDonnell has questioned assertions by Fine Gael Galway West TD, Hildegarde Naughton, that Merlin Park will be the site of the new hospital. He also said any new hospital for Galway could be up to a decade away.
In September, Dep Naughton welcomed the Government's €2 billion HSE capital spending plan for 2019 to 2021, saying a new elective hospital at Merlin Park, along with an ambulance base in the city, a blood science laboratory, and a new emergency department at UHG, were to be developed under the three-year strategy.
Dep Naughton, who has been at the forefront of the campaign for a new hospital, said after the plan was announced that Merlin Park had been earmarked as a location, and that a new modular theatre at the site would also be prioritised under the new plan.
'There’s no guarantee the hospital will be built even within the next 10 years if, for instance, Brexit brings a major squeeze on the country’s finances' - Cllr Declan McDonnell
However, Cllr McDonnell has alleged that the proposed elective hospital for Merlin Park was not included in the Capital Plan. Instead, he said, it was included in the HSE’s 10-year capital plan, but that plan itself makes no mention of Merlin Park." As a result, he said, an elective hospital for Galway is more likely to be part of a longer 10-year plan.
Cllr McDonnell raised the issue at last week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum, and asked if there had been any discussion with the HSE West executive on the costs or a timescale for the proposed development.
He was told that the three-year Capital Plan stated that the design briefs, site appraisals, and business case for the provision of three elective hospitals in Galway, Dublin, and Cork, would be progressed in 2019. "That is a long way from saying a new hospital is included in the plan," he said. "It also shows that a site has not even been selected yet."
Cllr McDonnell said no new hospital will be built in Galway next year. "It’s going to take a lot longer than that," he said. "There’s no guarantee it will be built even within the next 10 years if, for instance, Brexit brings a major squeeze on the country’s finances."