Fears that the Sheil Hospital development in Ballyshannoin would be sidelined due to the massive over-run in the National Children’s Hospital budget have been allayed.
The project was among 12 major healthcare projects in Donegal to be included in the 2019 HSE Capital Plan.
Cllr Barry Sweeny (FG) from Ballyshannon said: “We have always been reassured that the money was there and was committed to this project. But obviously I am delighted that it has been confirmed.
“This will allay fears, particularly for patients and their families.”
The project will see the amalgamation of the existing 33-bed unit at the Sheil with the 22-bed Rock Hospital. At present, the Sheil also incorporates a day hospital and out-patient services including physiotherapy, x-ray and dentistry.
Plans include refurbishment of the existing building which dates back to 1894, as well as the addition of a new section. When complete, the project will be a modern care facility for its users.
Previous announcements by the HSE suggested that work would get underway in early 2019 and be completed by late 2020. But with the project still to go to tender, it is clearly well behind schedule.
“I would really like to see the sod being turned soon,” said Cllr Sweeny.
“At the moment I can’t give a timeline but the money is there and it is going to happen.”
The councillor said the project would be a great boost for the wider Ballyshannon area in terms of employment and activity. The plans are for an 80-bed unit, with 66 single rooms and seven twin rooms.
“The application is being finalised at the minute and it’s a lengthy process with various bodies involved. The first move we will see is the provision of temporary accommodation at the Rock Hospital.”
The Ballyshannon councillor also welcomed news of the other developments in the county, particularly St Joseph's Hospital in Stranorlar.
And while this was broadly echoed across Donegal, campaigners who for years have been trying to save St Joseph's expressed anger and disappointment that their hospital was not included.
Sinn Féin TD for Sligo, Leitrim, North Roscommon and South Donegal, Martin Kenny was also critical of the HSE Capital Plan for 2019, saying it was very short on details. He added that many of the projects were already underway and it did little to address hospital overcrowding.
The 12 Donegal projects included in the HSE Capital Plan are: Letterkenny Radiology project; Stranorlar/Ballybofey ambulance base upgrade; Restoration and upgrade of mortuary unit at Letterkenny University Hospital; Newtowncunningham Primary Care Centre; Ballyshannon 100 bed Community Nursing Unit; Dungloe Community Hospital Refurbishment – Tender and Contract; Carndonagh Community Hospital Refurbishment - Tender and Contract; Falcarragh Community Hospital Refurbishment - Design; Buncrana Community Hospital Refurbishment; Ramelton Community Hospital Refurbishment - Planning; Stranorlar Community Hospital Refurbishment - Planning; Letterkenny Community Nursing Unit.
Also included in the plan are works in Letterkenny University Hospital for electrical distribution project upgrade and medical ward block fire safety works.
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