Health committee chief to back no-confidence vote in Harris

Dr Michael Harty: Delay in providing 60-bed unit at Limerick hospital triggered decision

Dr Michael Harty:  ‘Our dysfunctional health system is spiralling out of control.’ File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dr Michael Harty: ‘Our dysfunctional health system is spiralling out of control.’ File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health has said he will support a vote of no confidence in Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Dr Michael Harty, an Independent TD for Clare, said on Monday that a delay in providing a 60-bed unit at University Hospital Limerick sparked his decision.

“This morning’s shocking news that the urgently needed 60-bed modular unit at University Hospital Limerick has been delayed until at least mid 2020 is a betrayal of trust and of the people of the midwest by Government,” said Dr Harty.

“It is an indictment of both the Government, the Minister for Health and in particular Fine Gael TDs in Clare and Limerick who have failed abysmally to ensure that University Hospital Limerick is a properly functioning 21st century healthcare facility.

“In view of the failure to deliver this badly needed interim emergency unit for next winter, I will support the vote of no confidence in Simon Harris.”

Sinn Féin proposed the no-confidence motion in Mr Harris after several issues in his department came to a head in recent weeks, most notably the cost overruns for the National Children’s Hospital.

Dr Harty had previously indicated that he would abstain on the vote of no confidence in Mr Harris, as proposed by Sinn Féin, to ensure the Government did not fall in the run up to Brexit.

However, the TD now says he has “lost trust in this Minister and this Government”.

Mr Harris had previously indicated that funding would be provided to allow the unit to be completed by autumn 2019.

The Government came under fire last week when it was revealed that funding for the new ward has not yet been approved. The 60-bed unit was hoped to alleviate the issue of overcrowding at the hospital.

“I have said before that our dysfunctional health system is spiralling out of control and we are now just seeing the beginning of the knock on effects of health projects around the country following the scandalous overruns at the National Children’s Hospital,” added Dr Harty.

The UL Hospitals Group said that the objective has been to have the new beds available at the earliest opportunity subject to allocation of funding to deliver the project.

“UL Hospitals Group understands that the draft HSE Capital Plan 2019 is due to be submitted to the Department of Health shortly,” a statement noted. “It will then be subject to the approval of the Minister for Health and the sanction of the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure.” – PA