A seven-year campaign by a hospital action group in Waterford, seeking a community nursing unit, appears to have finally bore some fruit.
The Government, it emerged, looks set to deliver a long-awaited 100-bed nursing unit at St Patrick’s Hospital in Waterford City.
According to Labour’s Ciara Conway, a design team has been selected to work on developing a planned community nursing unit on the hospital grounds.
The successful tender companies have been named as Coady Partnership Architects, O’Connor Sutton Cronin and Associates (civil and structural engineers), Varming Consulting Engineers (mechanical and electrical engineers) and O’Reilly Hyland Tierney (quantity surveyors).
The Waterford TD confirmed the project has been provided for in the Government’s Capital Expenditure Plan.
Planning permission has yet to be sought for the long-promised nursing unit.
However, according to Ms Conway, planning was due to be submitted before the year end.
“It’s a major project and involves a number of listed buildings so there has been extensive consultation to get to this point. Everything needs to be perfect to get the planning approval,” she said.
It is expected that work on the site will commence in the autumn of next year.
Ms Conway said the weekly protest over seven years had been a testament to the 28 group members who had proudly maintained their lengthy campaign.
“This has been long-awaited and long-campaigned for by the people of Waterford and I am delighted that finally this Government will deliver it.
“It’s something I’ve been working to progress since I got elected so I’m very happy that we’ve reached this stage,” she stated.
The TD said the facility will continue to provide a vital service to the people of Waterford for years to come.
“When it’s built it will be a huge help to older people and their families in Waterford.”
In 2009, the 19-bed upper floor St Brigid’s Ward in St Patrick’s Hospital Waterford was closed by the HSE following a report from HIQA, citing concerns in relation to health and fire safety.
Arrangements were made for a total of 30 private nursing home beds to be made available and the then government also promised to build a 100-bed community nursing unit on the grounds of St Patrick’s.
The long campaign to have a new unit delivered was maintained by a local action group spearheaded by former councillor Davy Walsh.
He said their campaign had finally paid off. “Some campaigns are worth sticking with and this was certainly one of them,” he said.
In 2007, he noted, funding for the unit was promised in a previous capital investment plan. However, Mr Walsh said Fianna Fáil and the Green Party reneged on the promise. He said the action group’s ability to maintain pressure on Oireachtas members “finally looks set to pay off”.
It is understood the nursing unit at St Patrick’s will be a public amenity dedicated to geriatric care and will offer additional services such as physiotherapy, social work, counselling and occupational therapy.
The action group had picketed the hospital every Tuesday at lunchtime for the past seven years and also travelled to the Dáil on four separate occasions to lobby various ministers for health.
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