Senator Paudie Coffey has slammed Health Minister Mary Harney after she admitted that she didn’t know when funding would be made available to build a 50-bed geriatric unit at Saint Patrick’s Hospital.
Fine Gael’s Waterford by-election candidate said the Minister’s comments compounded the HSE’s intention to close Saint Brigid’s Ward at the hospital, a decision which angered relatives of the ward’s 19 elderly patients.
“I met with an official of HSE South early in 2009,” the Senator recalled.
“He promised that a 50-bed geriatric unit to replace Saint Brigid’s would be ready within 18 months, i.e. by this summer – I doubted that.”
Senator Coffey continued: “If Fianna Fáil governments had not got around to replacing Saint Brigid’s in the boom years, what chance was there of getting this much-needed replacement facility once the economy had collapsed?
“At the start of 2009, the HSE did not even have a site, let alone plans or planning permission.”
Senator Coffey said he’d challenged the HSE to call in health watchdog HIQA to re-affirm its stated assertion that St Brigid’s failed to meet modern standards.
“Surely it would be better to improve St Brigid’s than to close it,” he questioned.
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