Shamrock Plaza – the new primary care centre for Carlow.

2nd July, 2011


There has been widespread confusion and anger in the County
regarding the HSE’s use of facilities in Shamrock Plaza, Shamrock Square,
Carlow. Last Thursday in the Dail Carlow Fine Gael TD Pat Deering asked the Minister for Health  “his views regarding the Health Service
Executive paying a substantial amount of rent for a premises in Carlow,
intended to provide facilities that are already available in the nearby Sacred
Heart, District, and St Dymphna’s Hospital, in view of the fact that the rented
premises are not currently in use”

The Minister agrees that there appears to be considerable
confusion in relation to the use of the premises and the services to be
provided.   The facilities at the nearby
existing hospitals are not suitable for the provision of primary care

The new Primary Care Centre for Carlow town is to be
accommodated at Shamrock Plaza.  The
development of Primary Care Teams and Primary Care Centres is a priority under
the Programme for Government. The first floor is already occupied by three GP
practices.  HSE staff will occupy the
second floor.  Both floors have lift
access.  Together these floors will
accommodate the Carlow town Primary Care Centre and when the HSE staff move in
the Primary Care Team will be located here.
There is underground car parking beneath the building and an estimated
1,000 car parking spaces in the vicinity including a multi-storey car-park.

Up to 43 HSE staff will provide a range of health services
including public health nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy services,
speech & language therapy, psychology services, dietary / nutrition advice,
home help services and general support staff facilities.   There are additional rooms to accommodate
outreach hospital consultant clinics and other visiting specialists.  At maximum capacity, up to 40 clients can
receive services at a single point in time. The fit-out has been completed and
equipping is virtually completed. The accommodation will be ready for
occupation by HSE staff shortly.

The Minister said the rent paid for any HSE occupied primary
care centre accommodation cannot exceed that approved by the HSE Board for that
specific location.  The annual rent for
this centre is €320,000 a year for an area of just less than 20,000 square
feet.  This rent is less than the rent
approved by the HSE Board for a premises of this size.

Deputy Deering was very critical of this arrangement, and
said it is seen as a “pay-off for developers who built it in the so called
celtic tiger years”.  The Minister
replied “it is not the intention of this Government to preside over waste or
excessive costs for accommodation, when there is already many rented sites
which are now surplus to requirements”

The Minister promised Mr. Deering that he will ask his
officials for a full report on “ accessibility, appropriateness, alternative
sites, and duration of contract”.