Care centres part of €2.5bn stimulus package - Kenny


PLANS FOR primary care centres were approved by the Government as part of its stimulus package, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said.

He said leases were involved in some, direct exchequer funding in others and, in some cases, they were to be provided under a public-private partnership (PPP) system.

“This is all part of the stimulus package of more than €2.5 billion brought forward by the Government, which covers the areas of transport, health, justice and education, as well as the major development at Grangegorman,” the Taoiseach said.

“The entire seamless package was announced by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform [Brendan Howlin] and, obviously, was approved by the Government.”

Mr Kenny said more primary centres were needed: “There will be more to follow because more are required.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin pressed Mr Kenny to say whether he approved of the adding of 15 centres.

“This pertains to public-private partnerships, which, as I noted last week, have a strong commercial dimension because they involve the State entering into a contract with individuals, a company or any entity,” Mr Martin added. “Therefore, there must be a transparent and open process.”

Mr Martin said Minister for Health James Reilly should make a Dáil statement on the matter.

Mr Kenny explained the reasoning behind announcing fewer care centres than were required.

“One would not wish to be subservient to vested interests,” he said.One would not wish to be caught in a situation where, for instance, general practitioners would not buy into using the facility.

“Consequently, the proposal is to have 20 primary care centres under the PPP system.

“However, if one states they are the only 20 the Government intends to put in place, anyone could refuse to buy into that and, therefore, one does not get the results one seeks.”

Mr Kenny said Dr Reilly had outlined to the House the reasons for expanding the criteria beyond deprivation only.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said public nursing homes were under threat, as were services for the elderly.

Last week, he added, the HSE had put in place a public consultation process to consider options for the future of the Cottage Hospital, Drogheda, Co Louth, while, at the same time, local Government TDs claimed they had agreed a conclusion to the process with Dr Reilly.

Mr Kenny said the review was now complete and the HSE Dublin northeast region would publish a detailed options appraisal report next week. A fully public consultation process would then commence.

He added that the HSE was also involved in discussions about the future of public nursing homes.