HSE owns hundreds of unused buildings, figures show

Call for vacant infrastructure to be put into service or used as accommodation

The Health Service Executive owns hundreds of unused buildings across the State, some of which have been vacant for decades, new figures show.

Its files list 168 buildings that are “vacant under review”, along with 41 “retained assets” that lie unused and 69 properties “for disposal” or “in disposal”. Fourteen of these sites are reported to be sale agreed.

One of the sites, a health centre at Leap, Co Cork, has been vacant for about 65 years, according to records. These indicate the ownership of the property is subject to a query, which must be resolved by HSE lawyers.

A dispensary in Midleton, Co Cork, has lain vacant for 29 years, again due to issues over legal title.

Phoenix Park

Among the vacant buildings are substantial properties such as St Ita's in Portrane and St Mary's in the Phoenix Park.

St Conal's Hospital in Letterkenny has been used for health purposes since 1901 while the former Dingle community hospital, which is listed for disposal, has been used for this purpose for 170 years.

The information was provided by the HSE in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane.

Expressing surprise at the “huge” number of vacant properties owned by the HSE, Mr Cullinane questioned whether there was a plan in place for their management and use.

‘Effective plan’

“With some buildings remaining unused for decades, you’d have to question whether the HSE has an effective plan in place for the use of these sites,” he said.

Any buildings that were suitable should be brought into use to serve the needs of the health service, he suggested. For others, a more effective plan is needed to ensure their timely disposal, “especially given the housing crisis we have at present in the country”.

Mr Cullinane said some of the properties were individual houses and might be suitable for accommodating families, including incoming refugees from Ukraine.

The HSE says that when a property is “vacant under review” it is put on the vacant list until a decision is made whether there is another healthcare use for it.