A row has broken out between two Government departments over Minister for Health Leo Varadkar’s capital building plans.
Earlier this month, Mr Varadkar announced a €68 million a year increase in the capital budget for health from 2016 onwards. He said the extra money would be used to build primary care centres, community nursing units and cancer facilities, as well as for IT investment. This is in addition to existing plans to build a new national children’s hospital, a new maternity hospital in Dublin and a new central mental hospital.
In his budget announcement, the Minister made no reference to the €200 million from the sale of the National Lottery the Government has already committed to building the children's hospital.
Yesterday, Independent TD Billy Timmins accused the Government of misrepresenting the funding allocation and of manipulating figures to create a misleading picture. "The €70 million mentioned by the Minister that will come on stream in 2016 is already included in the HSE five-year capital plan. An effort is being made to create the impression that this is additional funding to health to develop primary care centres and other such facilities, but it is merely the proceeds of the sale of the lottery, which has already been factored in."
Asked about Mr Timmins’s claim, a spokesman for Mr Varadkar said it was not correct to say all the additional capital funding would come from the National Lottery money.
However, the Department of Health and Public Expenditure had "different notions" about where the money would come from, he acknowledged.