Call to keep Limerick maternity hospital building in public ownership

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LIMERICK Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea has called on Health Minister Simon Harris to make a statement on the future of the regional maternity hospital building after services are moved from the Ennis Road to the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) campus in Dooradoyle.

He believes the building should be kept in public ownership and says that a number of local people are concerned about its future use when services are moved to Dooradoyle in the coming years.

“While I accept that the move is a number of years away, we have to plan for the future and I believe Minister Harris should make it clear that the building will remain in state ownership.”

Deputy O’Dea takes the view that the building could be used as a new regional Garda headquarters.

“It would obviously need to be modernised and adapted, but Henry Street Garda station is too small for the current Garda force and they have been forced to rent extra space in an adjoining building. If used as a Garda station, the Maternity Hospital building would also benefit from having good road access and close proximity to the city centre.”

Willie O’Dea TD pictured at the Limerick Post offices.

“The proposal to move the hospital is the right thing for patient care as stand-alone maternity units lack some of the important facilities for complicated obstetric care. The current hospital was designed to cater for about 3,000 annual births yet in recent years, it has dealt between 4,600 and 5,500 annual births and is the fifth largest maternity unit in the country.

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“I am also seeking an update from Minister Harris on the proposed timeline for the transfer to Dooradoyle as this project needs to be given more urgency,” Deputy O’Dea added.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health explained that future use of the Ennis Road site cannot be considered until such time as the hospital is vacated.

“Vacant properties are reviewed for future use and suitability as healthcare premises. They may be refurbished immediately, retained for future use or deemed surplus to HSE requirements.

“The HSE operates a protocol for the disposal of surplus property which sets out three options: Firstly, the property is offered to other Government Departments/State Agencies. It is then offered for sale on the open market, subject to favourable market conditions. Finally, community or voluntary use will be considered only if the other options do not materialise, as the HSE is required to obtain value for money when disposing of assets.”

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