Tuesday, 15th October 2019
Press Statement by Hildegarde Naughton TD
Fine Gael, Galway West and South Mayo
Two senior government ministers have publicly backed plans for the development of a new elective hospital in Galway, calling for the project to be prioritised and completed “as quickly as possible”.
Minister for Education Joe McHugh and Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring both voiced their support for the campaign for the new hospital, which has been led by local Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton.
The intervention is unusual in that it involves major regional investment in a project located outside of both ministers’ constituencies. However, almost 9,500 patients from Mayo and Donegal are on waiting lists for elective procedures.
“The decision by government to approve the construction of an elective hospital in Galway is a positive one for the entire region,” said Minister McHugh.
“It is one I very much support and will be indicating to my cabinet colleague, the minister for health [Simon Harris], the importance of progressing this facility as quickly as possible,” he added.
The decision was also welcomed by Minister Ring, who described the planned hospital as “critical for healthcare in the west of Ireland”.
“The project is vital for the future wellbeing of our population, and I will be discussing the matter with the minister for health to ensure the hospital is delivered as soon as possible,” he stated.
The public support of the cabinet members is a boost to the campaign of Deputy Naughton, who first touted the construction of a new hospital in Merlin Park as a solution to the regional health crisis prior to her election in 2016.
The campaign attracted the support of consultants in Galway, and the project was included in the Government’s capital plan last year. It also featured as a national priority in the recent €2 billion HSE spending plan.
Deputy Naughton welcomed the support of Ministers Ring and McHugh, and said that it would add momentum to the project, which is one of three elective hospitals in line to be built around the country.
“For far too long, money was spent on our regional health service in a way that was strategically irrational,” explained the Galway West TD.
“It was focused solely on the UHG (University Hospital Galway) site, where no additional capacity could be provided due to spatial and planning restrictions. In recent years, we saw a bed block built that provided no extra beds, and a car park built that provided no extra parking spaces.
“I’m pleased that this Government has seen the logic and urgency of developing hospital services in Merlin Park, where the development of an elective hospital will not only create new beds there, but will boost inpatient capacity by up to 30 percent in UHG,” she added.