‘No funding until after 2020’
No funding will be available to build the new Rehabilitation Unit at Roscommon University Hospital until after 2020, the Secretary-General of the Department of Health has said.
Documentation released by the Department under the Freedom of Information Act confirms that construction work on the €7.85 million facility has been very significantly delayed.
In May of last year, the Health Service Executive approved funding for the ten-bed unit, which would operate as a satellite centre for the National Rehabilitation Unit in Dun Laoghaire.
However, last month, Dr. Gerry O’Mara, a Consultant at Roscommon University Hospital, raised fears that funding for the unit had been pulled.
At the time, the Health Service Executive said that although no funding could be allocated towards the project this year as part of the 2016-21 Capital Plan, it was intended to commence the project “later in the programme”.
Yet it now appears that the project has been held up by at least several years.
On April 21st, Jim Breslin, the Secretary-General, wrote to Denis Naughten, now the Minister for Communications, Climate Acton and the Environment, to reveal that no funding would be available for the rehab unit for at least five years.
“The Saolta Group has advised that the spatial plan for Roscommon Hospital developed by HSE West estates department was discussed and approved at the Saolta estates committee in the first quarter of the year,” he said.
“The next step will be to establish a project team with involvement of hospital and estates personnel and this is currently underway.
“I am advised that funding provision has not been made in the HSE Capital Plan for this project up to 2020.”
At the time, Mr. Naughten, an Independent TD, had not been appointed as a Minister because the new Government had not been formed.
When Dr. O’Mara’s comments about the pulling of funding were published, it prompted local politicians to contact the Department to express their concerns.
An email from one department official, named Christina MacCarthy, notes: “Senator Frank Feighan rang HSE estates west about the proposed new rehab unit at Roscommon CH (County Hospital).
“He was told funding would not be available before 2020.”
Representations were also made on behalf of Michael Fitzmaurice, an Independent TD, and Senator Maura Hopkins, of Fine Gael.