Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has said the Taoiseach isn’t in a position to promise that all health projects will still go ahead, despite the massive overspend on the planned National Children’s Hospital.
Speaking in the Dáil today Leo Varadkar claimed that no health projects will have to be cancelled to meet the €1.73 billion construction cost. However he did admit that some projects will have to be delayed while the Department of Health raises additional funds. A further 100 million Euro will be needed this year alone.
Deputy Donnelly explained, “It’s completely unrealistic to imply that these huge cost over-runs won’t have a massive and permanent effect on our heath service. Just yesterday I got a response to a Parliamentary Question from the Department of Health which clearly stated that the HSE is still developing its Capital Plan for 2019. In other words, it’s unknown how much money will be spent and where. Therefore it’s impossible to say which areas will be deprived of funds.
“We also have no guarantee that the almost two billion Euro price won’t rise further. The Government appears to think the sky’s the limit when it’s spending taxpayer money. This was made perfectly clear when the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee today. Colm Desmond admitted that there had been a ‘disturbing escalation in cost’ but said the Cabinet still gave the spending the go ahead as recently as last month.
“It’s important to remember just how much money is being spent here. Back in April 2016 we were told that the new National Children’s Hospital would cost €650 million. Just over two years later that price had spiralled to 1.73 billion and an independent review into that spike has only commenced this week. For the extra money we’re not getting a single extra bed. In fact, by the time it’s built the new National Children’s Hospital is course to cost more than twice as much per bed as the most expensive hospitals on earth. The exact cost will be €3.7 million per bed. While the Government is spending money like that, there is absolutely no guarantee that other health projects won’t be cancelled”, concluded Donnelly.