Resident hits out at delay in funding commitment on Sacred Heart Hospital

A long-term resident of the Sacred Heart Hospital, Roscommon town, has strongly criticised the Government’s delay in allocating funding that would secure the future of the State nursing home.

  It is now over three and a half months since the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) made a number of negative findings about the facility, which shrouded its future in doubt.

  They said the old-style building fell short of health regulations, due to its toilet and showering facilities and some multi-occupancy rooms.

  The health watchdog said at the time that, if the HSE-run home was to remain open to full capacity, the Government would need to commit to completely rebuild it.

  However, no such firm promise has been made, even though Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch said in September that she had secured €450 million for refurbishing or replacing State-run nursing homes.

  The delay has angered residents, including John McWatt, who is 74.

  “I am really quite dismayed and not particularly hopeful that anything will come out of the current situation vis-à-vis the Sacred Heart,” said Mr McWatt, who moved there from his home in Castlecoote two and a half years ago.

  “There is a considerable number of State nursing homes that I don’t know where each individual one stands. There may well be nursing homes more desirous, more needy than the Sacred Heart.”

  In September, the future of the Sacred Heart Hospital was a big issue in the county, with public meetings and campaigns ongoing to safeguard its future.

  The expected announcement of funding never came, though, which Mr McWatt described as a “terrible shame”.

   He said: “I am annoyed the way the thing is being orchestrated, not just by the State but by local and national politicians. It doesn’t seem to have materialised in the way that everybody’s expectations were building up to.

  “It has fallen rather flat. I think the residents and staff and the families of residents need to know how their loved ones are going to be accommodated.

  “They need reassuring.”

  Mr McWatt has called for an urgent action from the Government.

  “I would like a commitment, in particular from (Health Minister) Leo Varadkar and (Junior Minister) Lynch, that the amount of money required to build a 50-bedded establishment here, is provided,” he said.

  “I would like an announcement for this particular establishment.”

  It is estimated that up to €13 million would be required to completely rebuild the facility to new health regulations.

  Mr McWatt said that, while some wards were modern, two of them were inadequate, and that a rebuild was required.

  “I think Our Lady’s and St Joseph’s need to seriously be brought into the 21st century and, in doing so, a rebuild would be totally necessary,” he said.

  “Our Lady’s and St Joseph’s are part of the original establishment, and in all of the wards there, there are no doors, just curtains. It is a bit of a relic.”