Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has confirmed that the HSE has agreed to purchase a greenfield site for the development of a €25 million community hospital to replace St Joseph’s Geriatric Hospital in Ennis.

It is expected that the site location and development plans will be announced in the coming weeks when the vendor completes regulatory requirements with the charities regulator.

The information was conveyed to Deputy Carey by HSE Mid West Community Healthcare Chief Officer Bernard Gloster who said that he expected the requirements to be sorted in “the next short period of weeks”.

The new hospital will provide 100 beds for the care of the elderly, comprising 75 long-stay and 25 short stay beds and is expected to be completed by 2021.

Welcoming Mr Gloster’s response, Deputy Carey said that although funding for the hospital was ring-fenced, it was important that any delays should be kept to an absolute minimum.

“The need for a new hospital was highlighted when the Health and Information Quality Authority (HIQA) placed a restriction on new admissions to St Joseph’s on the grounds that the HSE failed to address ongoing issues at the hospital.

“An agreement was reached to keep the hospital open after the HSE undertook to improve facilities for residents. However, a decision to construct a 50 bed replacement block on the existing site in Lifford proved to be impractical and the HSE agreed to proceed with the development of a new hospital instead.

“I believe that this is not only in the best interests of the elderly patients but also for the HSE in terms of value for money. Construction on a greenfield site will allow for the provision of state-of-the art facilities and also allow for future development,” Deputy Carey explained.

The progress report on the community hospital was one of a series of updates received by Deputy Carey on public health projects in Clare which include the development of six primary care centres throughout the county.

Both the Ennistymon and Killaloe/Ballina Primary Care Centres were re-advertised in May when an initial advertisement was also published for the Kilrush Centre.

After a planning application was lodged for the Sixmilebridge Centre in mid February, additional information was requested and this response is being prepared.

Planning application for the Station Road Centre in Ennis was lodged in mid March. Further information was requested and this response is being prepared.

The floor plan for the Tulla Road Centre in Ennis has been agreed with the developer who is completing preparatory work on site prior to submitting the final planning application at the end of July.