Hospital co-location plan ‘deluded’

PLANS to locate a private hospital on the grounds of Cork University Hospital (CUH) have been described as dangerous and deluded by the former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Christine O’Malley.

Dr O’Malley, a member of the Campaign for a Real Public service, will insist at this week’s planning inquiry in Cork that having “side by side” private and public hospitals is not in the interests of ordinary people.

“It is potentially dangerous because patient safety cannot be guaranteed and probably deluded because in a looming recession, the viability of private-for-profit healthcare operations must be open to question,” she said.

An Bord Pleanála’s four- day oral hearing to determine whether to grant planning permission to Beacon Medical Group (BMG) for a co-located private hospital on the CUH site opens tomorrow at the Cork International Airport Hotel.

The decision to hold the hearing could delay the project by up to a year.

Cork City Council granted planning permission for the project in March and BMG had hoped that work on the project would be well under way by now.

A spokesperson for BMG said it was happy to follow “due process” and ensure everyone’s concerns were aired.

The group was awarded the tender to build three of the state’s six planned co-location hospitals — on the grounds of Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, CUH and the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Co Limerick.

The 170-bed Beaumont project is still with An Bord Pleanála after an appeal was lodged by former Socialist TD Joe Higgins.

Work on the 183-bed Mid Western Regional Hospital project got the green light from Limerick County Council and one appeal was deemed invalid.

Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry, who is also opposed to the plan, said co-locating on the CUH site would massively strengthen social apartheid in the health service.

“Those who cannot afford to pay for private healthcare will wait even longer to see a specialist,” he warned.

The campaign group is to hold a public meeting next Wednesday night at the Imperial Hotel and among the speakers will be Dr O’Malley and Cllr Barry.

Appeals have also be lodged with the planning authority. by Green party Senator Dan Boyle and party colleague, Cllr Chris O’Leary. Petitions have also been submitted by two local residents associations and a couple of private citizens.

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