Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has pledged that no projects will be scrapped to foot the bill for the controversial children's hospital build as he unveiled a €2.1bn HSE capital spending plan.
Mr Varadkar also hit out at criticism of the new hospital build, declaring that this is “political scaremongering”, “fake” and “made up”.
The €2.1bn spending plan commitments for the next three years includes 250 projects such as new hospitals, ambulance services as well as support for rehabilitation care.
HSE boss, Paul Reid, said the delayed plan includes an extra €240m for 2019's capital spending. This is a significant increase on the previous year, he said.
Other commitments include an increase in capacity in acute facilities and more primary care centres. There will be an extra 825 new emergency beds and an extra 3,200 new beds in community settings, the HSE pledged. An extra 10 new primary centres will also be added every year until 2021, it was added, on top of the existing 128 such facilities.
As part of the spends, funding going towards the controversial €1.7bn children's hospital build will come to €230m this year. There has been damning criticism from Opposition politicians about the overrun costs for the project, which have multiplied.
But Mr Varadkar was extremely critical of those concerns:
This year we have seen the overrun cost of the National Children's Hospital used for political scaremongering and scare tactics with claims that existing projects are being scrapped or delayed.
This included incorrect claims around cuts to staffing, he said: “That of course is totally fake. It is made up.”
Mr Varadkar said the Children Hospital spend will not result in another project being cancelled or delayed. He also said that health spending is not throwing money into a “black hole”.
The spend on the Children's Hospital would amount to 1.3% of all Health spending this year, he added.Separately, Health Minister Simon Harris used the launch to criticise previous governments. He said that many motorways were built during the boom, but not hospitals. Meanwhile, children's health became a “political football” in more recent years, he claimed.
Under Project Ireland 2040, the Government says capital spending for health projects will more than double for the next decade to over €10bn.
Opposition figures yesterday hit back at the plan and criticism of their concerns. Labour's Alan Kelly said: “The HSE Capital Plan for 2019 published today, nine months into the year, is a complete window-dressing exercise.
Many of the projects listed in this plan we already know about or are underway. The delay in this plan being published shows the Children's Hospital overspend is coming home to roost.
“There is little in this plan to tackle important issues such as the National Maternity Strategy and additional bed capacity for hospitals that see huge overcrowding.
Sinn Féin's Louise O'Reilly also questioned the number of beds in the new plan: “The plan also does little to address the huge overcrowding in our hospitals. Project Ireland 2040 gave a commitment to increase bed numbers by 2,600 acute beds over 10 years – a commitment of 260 beds per annum. However, the HSE Capital Plan 2019 outlines a delivery of 480 acute beds over three years – that’s only 160 additional beds per annum.”
- 250 projects funded
- 480 new hospital beds
- 30 new Primary Care Centres
- 2 new Emergency Departments
- Expansion of diagnostic equipment in 20 locations
- Investment in mental health and disability projects in the community
- Opening of Radiation Oncology Facilities at Cork University Hospital, the start of building work at Galway University Hospital & design of Phase II facility at Beaumount Hospital, Dublin
- Beaumont Cystic Fibrosis Unit
- Phase 2 of the Paediatric Department in Cork University Hospital
- Three new hospitals in Dublin, Cork & Galway, which will help reduce tackling waiting lists
- 30 new Primary Care Centres opening across the country by end of 2021
- 100 new beds in mental health units. Acute mental health projects in Sligo and Naas
- New hospices in Waterford, Wicklow and Mayo in 2019 with others planned for Sligo, Galway, Drogheda, the Midlands and Dublin
- 130 new beds in national rehabilitation hospital & 20 new rehabilitation beds in Roscommon University Hospital