PLANNING permission was yesterday granted to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for a €15 million 50-bed extension to Ennis General Hospital.
Last night, the HSE confirmed that work would start on the project “before the end of the year with approximately a six-month time frame for completion”.
However, the plan represents a net increase of only two beds at the 77-year-old hospital as the development replaces old structures.
It also follows the hospital losing 25 acute beds in September of last year as a result of the closure of the hospital’s 24-hour A&E status and losing its acute surgery function.
As a result, the hospital – when the new beds are in place – will have been reduced to a 70-bed hospital with 50 in-patient beds and 20 day beds.
Prior to the 2007 general election, plans were lodged for a €40m redevelopment of the hospital that would have increased the bed number to 129.
However, no advance has been made on that application since securing planning permission.
Fine Gael TD Joe Carey yesterday welcomed the decision, but stated that “Ennis has experienced too many false dawns with developments before granted planning permission that have not been built”.
&According to planning documentation lodged with the application, it states that the HSE as part of the reconfiguration of services in the mid-west “is developing Ennis Hospital to provide timely and local access to non-acute patient care including diagnostics, day surgery, outpatients and rehabilitation as part of an integrated regional hospital network.”
The documentation states: “The current project will provide modern wards and isolation rooms to match this strategy and the vacated space in the existing building will be gradually refurbished to provide the parallel medical services.
It adds: “Ennis Hospital will offer general medicine including cardiovascular support, day surgery, plastic surgery, geriatric medicine, acute adult emergency and minor injuries care.”