05 Oct 2022

Harris 'expects funding' for Kilkenny MRI will be in HSE capital plan

Spokesperson says minister 'knows it is a vital project for the people of Kilkenny'


Main: Simon Harris visits St Luke's Hospital in July 2018. Inset: Two years ago, the Friends of St Luke's announce they have reached their fundraising target for an MRI

The Minister for Health Simon Harris expects funding for Kilkenny’s long-awaited MRI scanner to be included in the HSE’s capital plan, which is due to be finalised shortly, a spokeswoman has said.

Responding to enquiries from the Kilkenny People on Monday, the spokeswoman for the Department of Health confirmed the Department is continuing to work with the HSE to finalise a capital plan for 2019, but did not confirm a date at which this would be completed, nor whether Minister Harris intended to visit Kilkenny.

On the issue of the MRI, the Department said that the HSE has recently advised that the project has been designed, planning permission has been granted and tender documents are being prepared. It has again said that further progress is dependent on the allocation of funding in the capital plan.

“The Minister has made his position on the MRI scanner for Kilkenny very clear. He expects funding to be included in the HSE capital plan,” said the spokeswoman.

“He wants to once again thank the people of Kilkenny for their ongoing efforts to fundraise for this scanner. He knows it is a vital project for the people of Kilkenny. He looks forward to the publication of the capital plan over the coming weeks.”

However, last week, local TD Bobby Aylward again expressed his deep frustration at the ongoing delays to the project, having submitted a Parliamentary Question to the Minister seeking a statement on the matter.
The Fianna Fáil TD said it was disappointing that even though the Minster gave assurances, the funding had still not been confirmed.

“The Friends of St Luke’s Hospital group have raised €250,000 locally in an effort to assist in the provision of this crucial piece of equipment — it’s high time we saw the Government put in even a fraction of the same effort,” he said.

“The Minister has visited Kilkenny, he knows the need that exists, he assured the people of Kilkenny it would happen, and yet he can’t give any indication of when it might happen. In fact, based on the most recent PQ response I got, there appears to be no guarantees from the HSE that it will even go to tender until funds are allocated in the capital plan.

“Despite us coming towards the end of July, the HSE capital plan, which determines the projects that can progress in 2019, still has not been finalised — it’s absolutely outrageous.

“We know from officials that the HSE was forced to change the capital plan substantially because of the massive overspend on the National Children’s Hospital, but we know little else as it hasn’t been published.

“It is quite hard not to be cynical in relation to the delay and to question why the Government have not yet published it. Is it because they know that there will be capital projects such as the MRI will be postponed? It’s time for some cast iron guarantees.”

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