Saving Lives makes Good Economic Sense

31 March 2009

The decision by Minister Harney, the Department of Health and the HSE to delay the promised €100m, 120 bed development at St. Vincent's hospital in Dublin is both shocking and upsetting but also makes no economic sense.

The 120 bed unit includes a 34 bed in-patient facility for Cystic Fibrosis patients, which is just one element of the recommended facilities promised around the country as a result of the Pollock report in 2005.

At the Oireachtas Committee Meeting for Health & Children last week Mary Harney stated: "The transformation of the health service must continue with the momentum it has achieved in recent years. Financial constraints will not set aside the health reform programme; they make the transformation of health services more urgent and important."

Professor Brendan Drumm of the HSE explained how Development Programmes should be accelerated:"Despite our current financial challenges, it is essential that we continue to make progress in this area and not only continue with our transformation programme but, where we can, accelerate it."

Sean O'Kennedy , Chairman of the CFAI stated: "The delay with the St. Vincent's unit until 2011 will affect our young patients with Cystic Fibrosis on a daily basis. Last year alone 25 Irish patients were lost to CF. The promised development cannot come soon enough for CF patients but it also makes total economic sense to build immediately while we have construction workers on welfare and there are economies to be had. Surely saving lives and jobs is a win-win for the government."

A Construction Industry Federation spokesperson in relation to investment in infrastructure stated: "Investment in infrastructure is one of the few ways open to the government to stabilise the public finances and generate increased economic activity and safeguard jobs. Maintaining planned capital investment in the Budget will, therefore, safeguard jobs and skills in the construction industry whilst delivering infrastructure for the State at excellent value for money. The pay back is immediate and this is borne out by the fact that every €100m invested in infrastructure creates 1,000 jobs and €50m for the Exchequer in direct taxes and social welfare savings.  It also supports jobs, spending and taxes in other parts of the economy."