Minister promises to deliver beds to ease trolley crisis

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Minister Simon Harris opens new Emergency Department
Minister Harris pictured with UL Masters student in Physiotherapy Meabhdh O Sullivan from KIldare , as he Opened the €24m Emergency Department at UHL. Pic. Brian Arthur

by Bernie English

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HEALTH Minister, Simon Harris promised “good news” for Limerick in the Government’s ten-year plan to be unveiled on Friday but would not be draw on whether that would include ring-fenced funding for the 96 bed unit needed for the hospital.

The Minister was in Limerick this Monday to officially open the new state of the art Barrack View Primary Health Care Centre in the city. 

Speaking to journalists, Minister Harris said that he acknowledges that despite €24 million investment tin the new Emergency Department for the University Hospital Limerick, and the investment in community care aimed at keeping people out of the hospital system, “the missing piece of the jigsaw is beds and I’m determined to deliver them”.

Journalists raised  figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation which put the numbers on trolley in UHL on Monday morning at 60, but the Minister said that the figure he had been given as of 8am on Monday morning was 17.

Replying to the Limerick Post when it was put to him that even if he were to make funds immediately available or the new 96 bed unit, it would still take three years to clear all the hurdles, Minister Harris said that he is “open to looking at interim solutions”.

He said his department is working with the HSE to deliver those solutions. 

Minister Harris said it is “absolutely vital,” that the government “show good faith and deliver on beds”.

The new Primary Care health centre will serve a population of more than 10,000.

The Barrack View Primary Care Centre in Lord Edward Street will provide space for up to 40 health and care professionals to work and provide services to the community from a one-stop-shop.

It is one of 14 health centres being delivered through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) mechanism and is the first to be developed in this manner in Ireland.

The new centre will allow health care professionals to book rooms, making the most of the new high-spec space for services including public health nursing,speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology and dietetics services as well as GP services. 

“We will be engaging with the public and asking what we can do to meet the needs of the community,” Carmel McLaughlin, Manager in Primary Care told the Limerick Post on a preview of the facility on Tuesday.

The new centre is built with a “better patient experience and patient dignity in mind,” said Kate Duggan Head of Services in Primary Care, where, she added, heath and safety, infection control measures are all part of the high standard of design in the airy, two storey building.

The PPP company, Healthcare Centres PPP Ltd, comprises of Prime, Balfour Beatty and InfraRed Capital Partners Limited who are responsible for the design and build of the 14 Primary Care Centres. 

Thereafter the PPP Company, will be responsible for providing services, which include facilities management services for the 25 year contract period.

The centre will be open to the public from next week and Health Minister Simon Harris will perform the official opening this coming Monday.

The Ballinacurra Primary Care Team, serving a population of 10,422 people will be based in the centre having previously been based in Galvone and Southill. 

The team provides services to clients in Ballinacurra, South Circular Road, O’Connell Avenue, Rosbrien, Ballinacurra Weston, Hyde Road, Prospect, Carey’s Road, Lord Edward Street, St Joseph’s Street, Wolfe Tone Street, Henry Street, Mount Kennett and Dock Road.

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