Tuesday, 15 February 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
207. Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the protracted discussions which took place between her Department and the Northern Area Health Board regarding the provision of a new health centre in Ballymun, Dublin 9; the reason it has taken two years for these discussions to be completed while the new facility has lain idle for this two year period; if it was her Department or the NAHB which was responsible for this inordinate delay; the funding commitments she has entered into now for the rental purchase and fit-out of the facility; the proposed phasing of same; when she will reimburse Dublin City Council for the two years’ rent which it paid on behalf of the NAHB; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4700/05]
Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for the funding of the Ballymun health centre, including the fit-out and equipping of the facility.
The former Eastern Health Board and its successors the former Eastern Regional Health Authority and the Northern Area Health Board, in conjunction with Ballymun Regeneration Limited — a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dublin City Council — proceeded with the development of Ballymun primary care centre in the absence of my Department’s involvement or approval. Consequently, my Department was obliged to conduct a review of this project, which primarily centred on issues relating to procurement and funding. The responses received over a period of time from the ERHA were examined in detail by my Department. Account had also to be taken of legal opinion received in relation to procurement issues. It is only recently that, bearing in mind all the circumstances of the case, my Department was in a position to recommend sanction for the HSE to proceed with the fit-out of the centre.
I am satisfied that my Department was not responsible for any unnecessary delay in progressing this project, given the various concerns involved. I am advised that the fit-out will not be phased but will be carried out under a single construction contract. In fact I have indicated that I wish the project to be opened as quickly as it logistically can.
As I have indicated, the HSE is responsible for the funding and delivery of this project. Accordingly, I have asked the chief officer of the Executive’s eastern regional area to examine the funding and other issues raised and reply directly to the Deputy.
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