THERE are concerns about whether funding is available for a new paediatric unit at Cork University Hospital.
CUH management had hoped that the children’s unit, which will incorporate four theatres and cost €40m, would progress substantially in 2019.
However, Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, said he is worried about a “lack of honesty” from Fine Gael and from the Health Minister, Simon Harris, regarding funding for the unit. Deputy Martin raised the issue in the Dáil.
“The development of regional paediatric units is essential if the National Model of Care for Paediatrics is to be implemented fully,” said Deputy Martin.
“Under this plan, which is a roadmap for children’s care in this country, a new unit was promised for CUH.
“However, there are serious questions over whether the funding for this facility is available, and despite asking for a straight answer to this question on numerous occasions, the minister has failed to reply with any degree of clarity,” he added.
Deputy Martin said that Cork is being neglected.
“We have a situation whereby there will be three paediatric facilities in Dublin — the National Paediatric Hospital at St James’, Blanchardstown, and Tallaght — and none anywhere else,” he said.
“I don’t for a second think that these units are not needed, but the fact that there are no units outside of Dublin is completely unacceptable.”
Deputy Martin also hit out at the delays in the HSE Capital Plan which, six months into 2019, is yet to be finalised and published.
“To be honest, it’s ludicrous,” said the Cork TD.
“It’s time for Fine Gael to be honest with people on the ground who are providing these services.
“It’s time for them to be honest with the children and parents who are waiting on these specialist services to be delivered,” he added. “It’s time for Fine Gael to come clean and outline if the money is there or not.”
Deputy Martin described Project Ireland 2040 as “a piece of fiction” and called for clarity on the funding available for this essential project in the coming months and years.
“Now is the time for answers,” he said.