St. Vincent's District Hospital, Dungarvan, has long been one of the worst hospital buildings in the country. Its replacement, the 32-bed community hospital in Dungarvan, is almost complete, and as part of the project the existing St. Vincent's hospital is to be demolished. Although belated, this is to be welcomed. Unfortunately, a new obstacle has arisen. The building is about to be taken in charge by the HSE and, in line with revised procedures introduced by the Department of Finance this year, the HSE has made a formal submission to the Department of Finance seeking release of the funding to proceed with equipping the hospital. However, no decision is forthcoming.
Last Thursday I tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister for Finance which was accompanied by a letter I received from the HSE outlining the position regarding the submission made to the Department of Finance. I was seeking to find out when a decision would be reached on the release of the funding to proceed with the equipping of the hospital. The question was transferred to the Department of Health and Children, and the answer I received from the Minister of State, Deputy Áine Brady, was one line as follows: "As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply."
As a long-standing Deputy I am appalled and outraged at how my question was dealt with by both the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Health and Children. The question originated from a reply I had received from the HSE. The letter was then transferred from the Department of Finance, where the answer I was seeking should have been given, to the Department of Health and Children, which in turn sent it back to the HSE. This is bureaucratic evasion at its most contemptible and I am registering the strongest possible protest in this regard. The people of Dungarvan have waited long enough for their hospital and I am demanding that a positive decision in regard to the equipping of the new hospital and the demolition of St. Vincent's District Hospital is made without delay.
The HSE has completed the equipping source list as part of the process for its submission, and it anticipates that the process from order to delivery will take six to eight weeks. I once again demand that this appalling mess be rectified as a matter of the greatest urgency and that the people of Dungarvan and west Waterford be provided without further delay with the 32-bed facility that has long been awaited and is much needed.