Minister of State Dara Calleary has confirmed that a project brief is to be prepared that will set out the redevelopment of Belmullet District Hospital. Minister Calleary received the news from the Office of the Chief Officer, Community Healthcare West, in response to representation made on the matter recently.
Deputy Calleary said: "I am pleased to confirm that progress has been made in the proposed redevelopment of the Belmullet District Hospital site. It is proposed that a project brief will be prepared that will set out the plan for redevelopment over two discrete phases.
"Phase one will entail the construction of a modular build that will be attached to the existing Aras Dearbhalla CNU. This will include the provision of 8-12 beds (subject to site capacity ) to enable the moving of the current District Hospital short stay beds. There are existing unused beds in Aras Dearbhla that will ensure that there will be no reduction in current provision of short stay facilities.
"Phase 2 will include the demolition of the existing District Hospital building to facilitate the construction of a new 50 bed unit to cater for the provision of the short stay and long stay beds in the one building. I understand that a project proposal will be developed in the coming weeks for consideration by senior management," he said.
Mayo Sinn Féin TD, Rose Conway-Walsh, said she also welcomed reports that the HSE will begin the planning phase for a new hospital in Belmullet as well as deliver on the long-awaited modular unit.
She stated: "Belmullet needs a new hospital. I sincerely welcome the change of approach from the HSE and government on this issue and will work with them to ensure that this project progresses as quickly as possible.
"The people of Erris have seen the removal of beds from Belmullet Community Hospital over the years and the steady removal of healthcare services from the area.
"I have long campaigned for Belmullet Hospital to be adequately supported to deliver the healthcare people desperately need here in their community.
"It seems from today’s reports that the HSE now recognise both the need and the potential in the local area.
"Reports also seem to indicate movement on the issue of allocating capital funding for the long-awaited modular unit and refurbishment. This modular unit will restore the bed capacity to pre-COVID levels.
"I have written to the HSE seeking greater clarity on the timeframe for both the delivery of the long-awaited modular unit and the development of a project brief for a new facility.
"Together with Sinn Féin local election candidate Rosaleen Lally, I will ensure this development progresses as quickly as possible. The beds in Belmullet Hospital should never have been closed."
Erris-based Mayo County Councillor Sean Carey also welcomed the announcement of a project brief to be prepared for the redevelopment of Belmullet Community Hospital which he said will encompass a state of the art facility, stating: "This solidifies the future of the Belmullet Community Hospital after numerous pleas over many years. I look forward to the expansion of services as I believe that we should bring the services to the people rather than people having to travel for the services."
He added: "The project brief is the most detailed part and could take quite a length of time. I have worked closely with Minister Dara Calleary on this project. I wish to thank Minister Calleary, Dr. Keith Swanick, Director of Nursing and Staff of the Hospital for their assistance and I will continue to work with them, the HSE and Department Officials to see this much-needed development through to completion. I hope this will resolve many of the challenges facing Health Care in Erris and the surrounding areas."