Next Monday the future shape and direction of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Castlebar will be mapped out when Taoiseach Enda Kenny visits the hospital. The future of the facility had been a hot topic of debate over recent years, with calls for the Taoiseach to make sure the facility was saved and improved. An Taoiseach’s visit follows the inclusion of the hospital in the HSE capital plan for this year, with an allocation of €11 million in funding for the facility to ensure its future and bring it up to required HIQA standards. It’s expected the plans for the project will be completed by the end of the month and it will then go out to tender for design. The project will see the refurbishment and extensions to three long stay wards and an rehabilitation ward.
The Taoiseach said: “The Sacred Heart Hospital is hugely important to the people of Castlebar and beyond, and I was delighted to announce the provision of €11 million in funding last summer. This will both ensure the exceptional level of care for patients will continue and secure the future of the 150 jobs based there. A further benefit will be the employment created by the refurbishment and extension works. It is expected that following the assessment of the tender submissions received, a design team for the project will be appointed by the end of March 2014, with a completion date of the work of March 2015.
Castlebar Fine Gael town councillor Ger Deere said: “It has been something that we have been working on every month for the past five years since we were elected to the town council. There was a lot of scaremongering going on for the staff and the patients about it closing and this will finally put it to bed. There was a lot of criticism for the Taoiseach over the Sacred Heart over the past while, but this is an example of something that would have closed if we didn’t have the Taoiseach here. You have to ask why Fianna Fáil didn’t put the money into the hospital when they were in power and times were good and why they suddenly found an interest in it.”