Deputy Joan Burton, Labour Spokesperson for Finance, has called for immediate clarification from the Minister for Health, Mr. Michael Martin, and local Minister of State, Brian Lenihan of the crisis facing the James Connolly Memorial Hospital, Blanchardstown.
Deputy Burton said that she wants to establish as a matter of urgency when the new building, on which the State has spent over €40 million, would be open to patients. She said that there were huge concerns in the Dublin 15 area that because of the funding crisis at the hospital and the overall funding crisis in the health services that the new building may not be open this year.
She said that the failure to open the new development would represent a betrayal not just of the 75,000 people living in the Dublin 15 area, but also of Fingal County Council which had permitted large new housing developments to proceed in the area on the basis that essential infrastructure, such as additional health service accommodation, would be provided.
Deputy Burton said that she understood that the Hospital shortfall could be already in excess of €6 million, leading to demands from the Minister for Health to close a ward in the James Connolly Memorial Hospital and to let up to 40 nurses go. In addition, she understood that at the moment there was no money for replacing equipment.
Deputy Burton said that she had also received an absolute refusal from the Northern Area Health Board to her request to provide for some accident and emergency facilities for children in the James Connolly Memorial Hospital. The reply from the Northern Area Health Board, which was that there were facilities in Temple St., six miles away and that Temple St. was nearby, was absolutely a joke in the context of the type of public transport infrastructure available in Dublin 15. Deputy Burton said she knew parents who ended up spending the whole day on public transport trying to get in and out of Temple St. and then to get service there. In countries like Canada, areas with such a big population like Blanchardstown would have a local children’s clinic even if the high level special services were provided in a central hospital, such as Temple St.
Deputy Burton said James Connolly Memorial Hospital is now facing an urgent crisis and it’s time for Fianna Fail and the PDs to pay attention to local issues on the ground in Dublin 15 and live up to their election promises to provide residents of Dublin 15 with a decent health service.