Hospital co-location plans likely to escape change

CONTROVERSIAL plans to co-locate public and private hospitals at six sites around the country are not likely to be affected by budget changes to capital allowance schemes.

Yesterday Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced the termination of capital allowance schemes for private hospitals and nursing homes.

However, projects at an advanced stage of development are likely to be protected under provisions contained in the upcoming Finance Bill.

In his summary of supplementary budget measures, Minister Lenihan said “transitional arrangements” would be put in place for projects at an advanced stage of development.

The Beacon Medical Group, behind three of the co-location projects, has already been granted planning permission for a private hospital on the grounds of Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. Contracts are expected to be finalised in the coming weeks. A planning application for a private hospital in the grounds of Cork University Hospital is the subject of an An Bord Pleanála appeal and a decision is expected in the next 10 weeks. Beacon is also awaiting a decision on planning permission for a project on the campus of the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick.

Total investment in these three projects will be e784m and Beacon claims the hospitals, once operational, will sustain more than 2,800 direct and indirect jobs.

Synchrony Healthcare, Bon Secours and Mount Carmel group are behind the remaining three co-location projects at St James Hospital in Dublin, Waterford Regional and Sligo General.

A spokesperson for Beacon said last night that the banks “still had an appetite” for investment in co-location, but they were more likely to “spread the risk”. She said they were not worried about raising finances.

However Fine Gael Health spokesperson Dr James Reilly asked if it was tenable, in the current fragile financial climate, for banks to lend money to projects which would not be supported if there was a change in Government.

The abolition of capital allowance schemes in the budget will apply to private hospitals, registered nursing homes, convalescent homes and associated residential units as well as mental health centres. Schemes for palliative care units and childcare facilities will remain in place.


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