HSE ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ with plans to repurpose new Community Nursing Unit

Deputy Michael McNamara has accused the HSE and Department of Health of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” over plans to outsource the newly built St. Conlon’s Community Nursing Unit in Nenagh as a step-down facility for patients from University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Speaking following the weekend protest against the proposal, the Independent Clare TD and candidate for Ireland South in the European Elections questioned how the original St. Conlon’s facility which HIQA deemed to be in need of replacement with a modern, expanded facility “is now suddenly deemed fit for purpose”.

McNamara said, “The new Nenagh community nursing unit was built in response to a HIQA report in 2022 suggesting that a replacement facility was required. The 25 residents of St. Conlon’s and their families are now effectively being told that their needs are secondary, while an additional 25 other residents scheduled to move into the new 50-bed unit must now source an alternative care location if this plan proceeds. This is wholly unacceptable, and I fully support the community in objecting to the plan.”

“We cannot to continue to rob Peter to pay Paul with our health service,” added Deputy McNamara. “This new unit provides badly needed beds that have been campaigned for over a long number of years. The considerable anger of the people of North Tipperary is justified. Residents and their families, staff and the wider community are rightly concerned that the outsourcing of the facility to a private provider could become a longer-term arrangement as the new unit gets changed from the purpose for which it was initially planned.”

Deputy McNamara said the repurposing of St. Conlon’s is “another example of the HSE and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly governing by press release and lurching from crisis to crisis due to a lack of forward planning and their failure to adequately tackle overcrowding at UHL.”

“While I welcome the Minister’s recently announced HIQA-led review of the case for a second Emergency Department for the Mid-West Region, it is very clear that the Government is under pressure. If you want to quell disquiet, announcing a review partly sees to that. This review must proceed without delay and its conclusions followed up speedily,” concluded Deputy Michael McNamara.