Friday 14 August 2009

Employee of Cork hospital opposes private facility nearby

AN OBJECTION has been lodged against the development of a private hospital in Cork by an employee of a neighbouring public facility, the Mercy University Hospital (MUH.)

Graham O’Reilly, employed by the Health Service Executive as shop steward at the MUH, has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the development of the €80 million private hospital by Owen O’Callaghan at Lancaster Quay on the Western Road in Cork city centre.

The 100-bed, 140,000 sq ft hospital, to be built at Mr O’Callaghan’s Lancaster Quay hotel and apartment complex, was given the green light by Cork City Council planners last month despite 10 submissions lodged by objectors during the planning process.

Two appeals have been lodged with An Bord Pleanála against the development, one of which has been submitted by Mr O’Reilly.Some 51 signatures from staff and patients at MUH were collected and submitted to Cork City Council in support of Mr O’Reilly’s objection, which was based on arguments against the suitability of the location and the scale and height of the proposed private facility.

The private hospital, which is to be located within walking distance of the MUH, could contribute to traffic congestion that could potentially delay ambulance access to the MUH and as such represents a risk to public safety, according to Mr O’Reilly.

“Existing traffic congestion and the lack of a car park in the area would only be worsened by another hospital so close to the Mercy and could delay AE access,” Mr O’Reilly states in his objection, which was submitted to Cork City Council on June 30th.

Mr O’Reilly says the hospital, which replaces a block of apartments originally planned for the site, would result in a loss of views of a famous Cork landmark, St Finbarr’s Cathedral.

In June, Sheehan Medical announced plans to open a new €90 million private hospital in Mahon, on the eastern outskirts of the city, due to open next spring.

In his submission, Mr O’Reilly questions the need for Mr O’Callaghan’s private hospital, citing the Sheehan development and the close proximity of a planned co-located hospital at Cork University Hospital (CUH). He also claims that the private facilities could result in a two-tier health system.

The plans for the site were lodged in May, and Cork City Council gave the go-ahead for the project at the end of July.

However, conditions were attached to the plan, including a development contribution of close to €1 million.

A second and separate appeal to An Bord Pleanála has been lodged by appellant Kieran Vincent.

Irish Times

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