I thank the Minister of State. The issues I wish to raise are intertwined. I have raised previously the need for a proper ambulance in Carlow with the Minister. While I appreciate having the opportunity to speak to the Minister of State again, the last time I was here I was told Carlow was second on a priority list for a new ambulance base. My understanding is that is true, but that refers to the south east. I have since found out that there is a national list and I am finding it very difficult to find out where Carlow is on that. The HSE estates unit is committed to land at Kelvin Grove for a new build, which is important. I want to find out about the capital plan and funding for drawings or design. Is there an update on that?.
As the Minister of State is aware, a few months ago I was fortunate to bring the Minister of State, Deputy Jack Chambers, who was visiting Carlow, to the ambulance base to see the need for a new building. I have also had a virtual meeting with the Taoiseach and meetings with national ambulance management with responsibility for the area. Nobody is in any doubt that we need a new ambulance base. However, in the meantime we need a major refurbishment of what is there. I have also extended my support to HSE to find a place to rent. Do we need to consider finding a place to rent at the moment? The premises the ambulance paramedics are currently in are not suitable. I am totally committed to resolving this problem because it is a very serious issue for Carlow.
I will provide a small explanation of why this is so important to me. The ambulance base is in a prefab which is part of a delivery unit that used to belong to St. Dympna's Hospital. There are no training facilities or canopy over the vehicles. The store is beside an adjacent methadone clinic which has created an additional risk for the staff. The staff are professionals and deserve to be treated as such. Would a service in the private sector be kept open under such circumstances? I do not know. There is an extra €10 million in the budget this year. What is the situation regarding capital projects? Kelvin Grove is a HSE site and, therefore, I believe the project should move forward more quickly. I ask for an update on that.
I also want to ask the Minister of State about discussions regarding understaffing in the south and the current recruitment process. What is the update on that? The Minister of State is aware, given her remit regarding the elderly, that recruitment seems to be an issue. Covid showed up the great work our health care staff and ambulance paramedics do in calling to people's houses. They work 24-7. It is important that enough staff members are in place. I want to know the updated position on that because it is important that every area is staffed.