News that a proposed 50-bed unit due to replace Saint Brigid’s Ward at Saint Patrick’s Hospital remains without funding approval has heightened local frustration with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

However, in a statement to The Munster Express, the HSE said that the development of the new Community Nursing Unit remained a “top priority”, with admissions for Saint Brigid’s no longer being accepted.

Responding to a Dáil question by Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghin O’Caoláin, Health Minister Mary Harney said the HSE is still approving its capital plan for the current year, therefore preventing her from commenting on individual projects.

Despite this, Local Health Manager for Waterford Dermot Halpin said the new standards now required for residential care “must move to address current shortcomings in our existing facilities”.

Stated Mr Halpin: “We have a responsibility to our elderly parents to ensure that the new and emerging standards for quality and safety are applied to their care; that we meet standards for infection prevention and control, environmental standards and fire and health and safety standards.