THE process of selecting a location for a new general hospital in Cork is underway, according to Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who revealed a team has been selected to assess possible locations.
The new hospital, part of the Ireland 2040 plan, has been allocated €250 million.
Speaking to the Evening Echo, the Tánaiste said: “We have a group of people that have been put together by the HSE and the Department of Health to recommend a preferred site for the new hospital in Cork.
“Whether that’s in the Docklands in the city centre or on the outskirts of the city, there are arguments for both in terms of access, in terms of public transport.”
While the Tánaiste said he did not want to give an exact timeline on the location of a site, he said that he hopes the plans progress sooner rather than later.
“I suspect that there’s still probably a couple of months in it,” he said. “But certainly by the middle of summer, I’d be hopeful that we would have a preferred site selected.”
Mr Coveney confirmed that €250 million has been allocated for the new hospital and that the HSE and Department of Health, along with input from the boards of the Mercy and South Infirmary hospitals, will decide on a timeline.
“I suspect it will cost more than that, and that it will be built out over time, but having a quarter of a million euro to get this project started in a very serious way is very welcome.”
A second new hospital, set to focus on elective procedures, has been earmarked for Cork, but the Tánaiste confirmed it is not at as advanced a stage as the general hospital project.
“This hospital is the most exciting healthcare investment, but there is a second hospital we’re planning which will be an elective-only hospital which is relay about impacting waiting lists in CUH and other hospitals in Cork,” he said. “I think the site selection for the second hospital will focus on the proximity to other hospitals so that people can move back and forth between hospitals if they need to.
“The decision has been made in principle to locate that elective-only hospital in Cork, but we’re not as advanced in the site selection on that as we are for the other one,” he added.
Mr Coveney added that the feasibility study into a light rail transport system for Cork could have an impact on possible hospital locations but that investment, for now, needs to focus on bus links in the city.