Fianna Fáil seeks information on Wexford hospital upgrade

Monday 04 February 2013 23.13
FOI documents show that the upgrading of the hospital was not a priority in the HSE's capital plan
FOI documents show that the upgrading of the hospital was not a priority in the HSE's capital plan

Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has called on Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin to make a statement to clarify his role in the upgrading of Wexford General Hospital.

Yesterday, RTÉ's This Week reported that documents show that the upgrading of the hospital in the minister's constituency was not a priority in the HSE's capital plan.

The documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Other documents had already showed that Minister for Health James Reilly requested that Wexford hospital and St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny be accelerated in the plan.

This required an increase to the HSE capital budget for Wexford, which was granted by Mr Howlin, who is also TD for the Wexford constituency.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Kelleher also called on Mr Reilly to explain the reasons why upgrading Wexford hospital was prioritised ahead of other hospitals.

He expressed concern about proposed new legislation, the HSE Governance Bill.

Mr Kelleher said he was concerned about the minister awarding himself "sweeping powers" over the running of the HSE.

He said the minister "has form here" and that there is "no point in us beating around the bush".

Mr Kelleher said: "He has interfered previously in Primary Care Centres, we now have gross interference in prioritisation of hospital projects. And this is not something like a community project, this is about delivering health services."

"We now have a situation where the minister is pushing legislation through the Dáil, which will give the minister himself sweeping powers in terms of the control of the HSE."