Clarity needed on proposed East Meath Primary Care Centre – Imelda Munster

The need for clarity on the proposed East Meath Primary Care Centre in Bettystown has been raised by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster.

Deputy Munster received information this week from the HSE in response to parliamentary questions she put on the matter seeking information on the timeline of the project, and whether the new centre will increase the number of GPs in East Meath which is currently experiencing a severe shortage of GP places.

The responses outlined that works on the Primary Care Centre will begin in Q1 of 2022 and the centre is expected to be open in Q4 of 2022. In their responses the HSE did not clarify whether the Primary Care Centre would offer services in addition to those already in East Meath, or whether existing services will merely be moved there. It merely stipulated that two GP practices would be accommodated in the new unit.

Deputy Munster said:

“We have a serious shortage of GPs in East Meath. Tens of thousands of people have moved to the area in the past decade, yet the infrastructure hasn’t been improved to accommodate them.

“Every week in my constituency clinic I hear from constituents who are in the farcical and unacceptable situation of having to travel to Dublin or further afield to receive GP care as there are no places available in local practices.

“I am going to chase this matter up with the HSE as it’s a vital point – if the Primary Care Centre doesn’t increase the number of GPs working in the area, what purpose does it really serve?

“The other issue here is the length of time it will take to become operational. The unit is already there, but it has to be kitted out as a doctor’s surgery. I don’t quite understand how that will take the best part of a year to achieve, especially given the lengthy delays to date with the project.

“I’m going to put these questions to the HSE again, and I expect that this time around I get full answers to the questions put.

“Having to travel outside of your town, and outside of your county or province even for basic medical care is a scandal. We need the Primary Care Centre as soon as possible, and we need it be sure that it will provide additional GP capacity in the East Meath area.”

ESRI report backs need for North Louth Primary Care Centre- Adams

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has welcomed the publication of the ESRI’s Geographic Profile of Healthcare Needs. The report, which is very detailed, reveals a clear need for targeted investment in Primary Care Services, as well as in long term residential care beds.

Commenting on the findings of the ESRI study Teachta Adams said;

“This important study – GEOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF HEALTHCARE NEEDS AND NON-ACUTE HEALTHCARE SUPPLY IN IRELAND – examined the geographic spread of health services across  the state. The report’s findings support what we already know to be the case in Louth   –  that this government must urgently invest in Primary Care and social care services.

The ESRI reveals that County Louth has less Speech and Language services and Long term residential care beds than the state average. It also notes a historical failure to invest in health information and data systems.

A new Primary Care Centre for Dundalk was first announced in 2008 when the HSE advertised for expressions of interest to develop a centre. Fast forward a decade and not one brick has been laid, in fact planning permission hasn’t even been submitted.

A Primary Care Centre which accommodates GP, nursing, physio, OT, disability, respite and other services is essential for the long term care of citizens in this county.

This is essential in light of the report’s conclusion that over the next two decades much of the expected population growth will occur in cities and surrounding areas like Louth and Meath. The report states: This means that medium- and long-term resource allocation and capacity planning policies such as the National Planning Framework – ‘Project Ireland 2040’ (Government of Ireland, 2018) – should take account of the implications of projected demographic change for service demand in the regions currently with lower relative supply and where population increases are projected to be greatest”.

Thus far the failure by the government to provide the long awaited Primary Care Centre for Dundalk and North Louth is evidence that it is not planning properly for the future. This inability to plan for the future is storing up significant difficulties in the time ahead”.

Adams accuses government of incompetence over Dundalk Primary Care Centre

Louth TD Gerry Adams has strongly criticised the Minister for Health, the HSE and the Department of Health providing “contradictory, confused, and conflicting” information about the Dundalk Primary Care Centre. He said: “Incompetence has been a mark of this government. Such incompetence leaves the most vulnerable in our society behind. The lack of Child and Adolescent Mental Health services CAMHS for the young people of north Louth is totally unacceptable”.

In correspondence last week the HSE told Mr. Adams that the provision of Dundalk Primary Care Centre is under review and has consequently been delayed.

Teachta Adams said:

“There are no Child and Adolescent Mental Health services CAMHS in north Louth. Children who need CAMHS have to travel to Drogheda for services. I have visited the Day Care Centre at Ladywell in Dundalk and despite the best efforts of the staff the facilities are not fit for purpose. It is impossible to deliver proper, effective community mental health services from a facility which is old and decrepit and not fit for purpose.

A new Primary Care Centre for Dundalk was first announced in 2008 when the HSE advertised for expressions of interest to develop a centre. Ten years later not a brick has been laid.

In November 2016 I was told that the operational lease process for the primary care centre would be completed in the first quarter of 2017.

In August 2018, the HSE stated that the planning application would be submitted by the end of 2018; that work would commence in 2019; and the centre would be open early in 2020.

Last week I was told by David Walsh, the National Director of Community Operations, that Disability Services are now “seeking space in the Primary Care Centre”.

While I welcome this why on earth was it not part of the original plan?

Mr. Walsh added: “This has resulted in a requirement to review the project … this has resulted in a delay … the new updated proposal will require additional approval from the HSE Property Resource Group”.

Last Friday, two days later, I received a letter from Minister Harris which makes no mention of disability services. Nor does he mention the need to review the project. Nor does he state that the project will be delayed.

It would appear that Minister Harris does not know what is happening with Dundalk Primary Care Centre. Incompetence has been a mark of this government. Such incompetence leaves the most vulnerable in our society behind. The lack of lack of Child and Adolescent Mental Health services CAMHS for the young people of north Louth is totally unacceptable”.

Teachta Adams asked Minister Byrne what is the current timeline for the design stage of Dundalk Primary Care Centre; how long will the review take; what are the cost implications; will a new letter of intent be required and does this mean that a new process of identifying a preferred applicant must be undertaken; when will construction commence and what is the expected opening date now for Dundalk Primary Care Centre?

Minister Byrne accepted that she should have simply said that she doesn’t know. She said she would raise the matter with Minister Harris.

Gerry Adams TD has now written to the Minister.

Dundalk Primary Care Centre Needed Now – Ó Murchú

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has described information regarding the delivery of a Primary Care Centre (PCC) in Dundalk as ‘slow progress.’

Cllr Ó Murchú said;

“The issue of a PCC, with adequate floor space to accommodate community mental health services, has long been requested both by practitioners and by my colleagues Gerry Adams TD and Cllr Anne Campbell.

“Deputy Adams visited the local mental health service at Ladywell and he has written many times to the Health Minister on this issue. Responses indicate that the service will be delivered but there is no timeframe on its delivery. This is unacceptable.

“At The latest meeting of the Regional Health Forum my colleague Cllr Anne Campbell again requested an update.

“The HSE stated that it has received and reviewed Expressions of Interest for the provision of the Primary Care Centre accommodation.

“ It has further been confirmed that a preferred provider and site has been selected and the HSE’s Property Review Group and has approved both.

“The project will then need to go through the planning process so delivery is still many months away at best.

“Citizens in Dundalk deserve to have a Primary Care Centre with a full range of healthcare services on their doorstep and I am going to continue campaigning on this issue until it becomes a reality.


Tomás Sharkey: No Urgency to Provide Services

Councillor Tomás Sharkey is exacerbated at the lack of progress in providing a second Primary Care Centre in Dundalk.

Cllr Sharkey said “Primary Care Centres are locations where many health professionals are available in the one location. In Dundalk we have one on the Alphonsus Road but we were promised one by former TD and Minister Dermot Ahern and also by Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick.

“I raised the issue once again with the HSE and the response indicates that we are in the same position as we were under the last Fianna Fáil government years ago.

“The response I received from the HSE indicates that there is no political commitment to the health of Dundalk people and certainly no urgency to provide important services.

“It is time for accountability on this matter. It is time for Deputy Fitzpatrick to deliver or get off the can.