Harney has reversed her decision on the CF unit.
Full credit goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland (CFAI) for launching a major campaign to get the Minister for Health to honour her commitment to provide isolation rooms for CF patients. However, it is still too early to celebrate this victory as the building of the unit is dependent on a ‘build now, pay later‘ funding scheme which may yet prevent it from going ahead. It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings!
The Minister for Health and the HSE promised to build by 2010, a new 120-bed facility with 30 en suite rooms for CF patients, at St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin. This €40 million unit will also have isolation facilities for patients with other conditions. Last month, following a reduction of 26 per cent in its capital budget, the HSE announced it didn’t have the funds to go ahead and that construction would be delayed until 2011 at the earliest. The uproar that ensued following this announcement has embarrassed Harney into making a u-turn on this decision and yesterday, she announced an alternative plan to fund this vital facility. She has proposed a scheme whereby payment will be made at the end of the construction phase. Builders will be asked to tender for the project on the basis that they would not be paid until the facility is completed, in about two years’ time. This is a different way of funding this project as it involves the construction company financing the development up to the final phase of construction.
The Government, the Minister for Health and the HSE have all failed in their duty of care to Irish people with CF. How a nation treats it’s most vulnerable citizens, is what determines it’s right to call itself civilised. Ireland has been found seriously wanting in this regard. I refuse to applaud Mary Harney for her ‘innovative’ plan to solve the CF accommodation crisis. She could have proposed this unusual funding plan years ago and saved a great deal of heartache in the process. But then it’s not about saving lives, is it? It’s all about saving face.
Source: Irish Times