Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly with Deputy Brendan Smith and Senator Diarmuid Wilson speaking with Dr Siobhan McEntee at the official opening of the Killeshandra Primary Care Centre last week.

Three primary care centres to be expanded in county

Three primary care centres across County Cavan are set to be expanded in 2024, the HSE has revealed.

They are among five PCCs in design and construction across counties Cavan and Monaghan, a HSE spokesperson confirmed to the Celt.

Ballyconnell Primary Care Centre, Virginia Primary Care Centre and a primary care children’s service in Cavan Town are all set for major extensions in the coming year.

“Detailed construction timelines will be forthcoming” for Ballyconnell PCC “once the design team and brief are finalised in Q1 2024”, confirmed the spokesperson.

The projects are being advanced under the HSE’s own capital development programme.

It’s intended to lodge planning permission for the expansion of Virginia Primary Care Centre in 2024.

No further information on the services to be expanded or included in either centre, following expansion, has been confirmed.

On Main Street, Cavan, additional space for a Primary Care Children’s Service is currently being constructed.

“This fit-out and refurbishment project is estimated to be complete in early Q2, 2024,” confirmed the spokesperson.

The plans were revealed by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly at the opening of Killeshandra Primary Care Centre.

Speaking to the Celt, Minister Donnelly said: “There’s three more primary care centres in design and development and they should happen a lot quicker than the ones that happened up to this point.”

The Minister referenced the long delivery times for previous primary care centres, conceding “I don’t think there’s any defence [for such delays]”.

He continued: “There has been a lack of pace within the public sector broadly, certainly within the health service, in terms of capital projects for too long. It was something I encountered when I was appointed three years ago, something I wasn’t satisfied with.

“I don’t think there’s any defence of the previous system, it didn’t work.”

Minister Donnelly says this has changed since he came into office.

“I worked with Minister Michael McGrath and Minister Paschal Donohoe to say ‘look, this process is not working, there are too many steps, there are too many stages, there are too many business plans and preliminary business plans and strategic assessment reviews. There’s too many committees, we’ve got to shorten all of this!’ and so we have.

“Projects like this are now happening quicker, they’re now beginning to happen in sometimes several years quicker than they previously had. This government has changed it,” said the Minister.

He’s hopeful that enhanced primary care services in the community will take pressure off Cavan General Hospital.

“The trolley numbers are simply too high in Cavan. The inpatient waiting list is falling, which is great to see but we need to take the pressure off the hospital,” said Minister Donnelly.

“That’s what they’re doing, making sure people can be treated in their community and don’t have to go to the hospital in the first place and, if they are ready for discharge from a hospital bed, that there are facilities like this in their community to get them out of the hospital earlier, taking the pressure off the hospital and freeing up beds for the patients that are on the trolleys,” added Minister Donnelly.

Two further primary care centres are set to open in Monaghan.

The landlord/developer of Ballybay PCC has notified HSE Capital & Estates that they hope to be in a position to appoint a contractor before year’s end and are estimating a 15-month construction programme from the date of appointment.

Similarly, the landlord/developer of Castleblayney PCC has indicated that they hope to commence construction in Q2, 2024, for an extension there with an 18-month construction programme estimated.