Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has welcomed confirmation from Health Minister Simon Harris that work is to get under way on a new €14 million block at University Hospital Limerick with a view to having 60 additional beds available for next winter.

“I have raised this issue repeatedly with Minister Harris on the floor of Dáil Éireann and in private meeting with him and his officials. The lack of bed capacity in the Mid West is the fundamental issue which contributes to the large volumes of patients waiting on trolleys at UHL. 

“Today’s announcement makes this critical project for the Mid West a reality. I want to compliment UL Hospitals Group chief executive Professor Collette Cowan and her team who developed this proposal and look forward to construction commencing at the earliest opportunity.

Deputy Carey met with Minister Harris last month following the withdrawal of a planning objection to the construction of the 60 bed unit at the UHL campus in Dooradoyle.

“I was delighted that common sense prevailed and the planning objection was withdrawn. This cleared the way for Minister Harris to give the definitive go-ahead for the project today.

“This project is of critical importance to healthcare provision in the mid-west region, servicing counties Clare, Limerick and north Tipperary, as it will improve patient flow throughout the hospital, patient comfort, patient safety, privacy and patient dignity.”

While progress on the 60-bed block is most welcome, it is just one project to increase capacity, with another 96-bed unit also in the planning phase,” he said.

Minister Harris confirmed his approval for the 60 bed unit earlier today when he officially opened a new in-patient specialist palliative care facility and the re-developed Nursing Home at Milford Care Centre in Limerick. 

The new Hospice, which serves Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary, incorporates 34 single bedrooms and four overnight rooms for families. It involved an investment of more than €12 million, of which the Health Service Executive (HSE) provided €1.5 million. The balance is being made from a variety of sources including voluntary fundraising, philanthropic support, Little Company of Mary, grants, corporate and private donations.

The newly refurbished nursing home, which is part of the Milford Care Centre complex, will, on completion at year end, see an increase in bed capacity in that facility from 47  to 69 bedrooms.