By Harry Walsh
IT is costing the HSE €81,000 a year to rent the new Out-Patients Department of Letterkenny General Hospital in Scally Place, it has emerged.
The exisiting facility at the hospital suffered significant flood damage at the end of July which affected 40 per cent of hospital services.
The new Outpatients’ Department, adjacent to the Court house in the centre of Letterkenny, opened in early December last.
Details of the cost involved in transferring facilities out of the hospital campus were relayed to Councillor Liam Blaney earlier this week.
The premises has been upgraded and reconfigured to allow the opening of 27 modern dedicated clinic rooms with waiting areas and the necessary support accommodation.
“This was a critical initiative in ensuring that the outpatient service, which cares for more than 80,000 patients per year, could maintain full functionality throughout the rebuild period. The services will reurn to the hospital in due course,” Mr Bill Maher, CEO, West North West Hospital Group said.
“This projected cost will be in the region of €1.25 million. This cost reflects the purchase of equipment and furnishings to replace those lost in the flood of the hospital. This equipment will be transferred to the hospital when services return to the hospital site.
“Other costs associated with the relocation include lease costs; structural work to deliver an outpatient facility of the appropriate standard; costs associated with the transfer of clinical and support servcies and their mantenance off the hospital site; consumable costs stocking,a new outpatient department and communicaiton materials and signage,” Mr Maher added.
Cllr Blaney had also asked how much it was costing to rent the premises per year and how many years the contract was for while he also enquired about the tendering process.
“I’ve been told this week that they identified up to a dozen buildings and narrowed it down for various reasons, including suitability and being able to get the length of contract that suited the HSE. Eventually they went with the McGinley building.
“They also told me that it cost about €650,000 to fit out the premises and, on top of the €1.25m, they’re paying out €81,000 a year – for two years – in rent. That works out to be roughtly €5.50 a square foot.
“While you have to applaud the HSE for managing to get the new faciity in place so quickly I’m still not happy that they didn’t appar to go through the tendering process.
“I’m a public representative and it’s the public who are asking me these questions. They’re asking me did the HSE go through the proper procurement process. I’m now being told that they visited up to 12 sites initially and narrowed it down before taking the decision to go with the McGinley building. In my mind that’s not a proper tendering process.
“That said, I hope that the answers I have received from senior management this week go some way to clarifying the talk out there about how much is being paid for the premises at Justice Walsh Road,” Cllr Blaney said.
The figures, released to Councillor Ciaran Brogan this week, show an increase of 13.3% on the previous year.