Opposition describe it as a 'wish list'
The Minister for Health has announced a €3 billion investment package for the health service as part of the Government's Capital Plan for the next six years.
According to Minister Leo Varadkar, this investment will ‘support the transformation of healthcare facilities'.
A total of €3.061 billion will be spent between 2016 and 2021. Four national hospital projects are included in the plan:
-The new National Children's Hospital at St James's Hospital, along with two satellite centres in Tallaght and Blanchardstown
-The redevelopment of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire
-The relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent's
-The construction of the new National Forensic Mental health Services campus in Portrane. This will replace the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum.
Work is expected to start on these projects next year.
A number of nationwide projects have also been announced, however it is unclear when these will begin due to planning and funding issues. These include the development of community nursing units for older people and the relocation of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital to Blanchardstown, the Coombe to St James's and Limerick Maternity Hospital to University Hospital Limerick in Dooradoyle.
The overall Capital Plan will spend €27 billion over the next six years. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, insists that this is ‘affordable and achievable'.
However, responding to the plan, Fianna Fail described it as ‘nothing more than a wish list'. According to the party's spokesperson on public expenditure and reform, Sean Fleming, people will judge the Government on its inability to deliver capital projects to date rather than on this ‘aspirational' Capital Plan.
"People will judge Fine Gael and Labour on their abysmal track record in this area to date. They have failed to invest in housing and we are now seeing the effects of this with the growing homelessness crisis and soaring rents. The Government has also missed its own targets with the provision of broadband and has failed to deliver the National Children's Hospital as promised," he commented.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin described the health announcement as ‘little more than a pre-election headline grabbing stunt'.