Monday 29 September 2008

Oral hearing against Beacon hospital plan

THE ORAL hearing into a proposed €242 million co-located private hospital in Cork begins today. Beacon Medical Group (BMG) intends to build a 185-bed private hospital on the Cork University Hospital (CUH)campus.

The hospital would create 511 full-time jobs, it is claimed.

The plan was given the go ahead by Cork City Council in March despite 140 objections from a number of local residents and area politicians including Green Party Senator Dan Boyle, Cllr Chris O’Leary and Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry.

Senator Boyle said the location of the hospital was ill advised because of the “considerable existing difficulties in terms of parking and traffic in the Wilton area”. The list of objectors to the project also included two Fianna Fáil TDs, Minister for Enterprise Micheál Martin and Michael McGrath, who said they were objecting because local infrastructure would not be able to cope. Mr Martin said the project wasn’t sustainable on the Wilton campus.

Opponents to the project have also expressed concern about the scale and density of the five-storey building on the medical campus as well as anxiety about possible increases in traffic levels.

However, BMG has repeatedly stated its commitment to working with local politicians and residents in Wilton/Bishop- stown to implement measures to alleviate traffic concerns at the CUH campus.

An Bord Pleanála has scheduled a four-day oral hearing at the Cork International Airport Hotel for the appeal against the granting of planning permission for the hospital.

Parties expected to give evidence at the hearing include the Laburnum/Wilton Residents Association, former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Christine O’Malley, Beacon Medical Group and local politicians.

The Beacon Medical Group was founded by cardio-thoracic surgeon Prof J Mark Redmond and businessmen Michael Cullen and Paddy Shovlin in 2002.

A decision on the project is not expected until November. Co-location is a Government policy of developing private hospitals on the grounds of public hospitals.

The aim is to enable private patients to ‘migrate’ from public hospitals on the same site, freeing up capacity for public patients.

The Irish Times

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