12 Aug 2022

Planning for new Primary Care Centre in Offaly town now at Stage 3

Offaly councillor slams delays to new primary care centre in county

Planning for new Primary Care Centre in Offaly town now at Stage 3

Planning for a much needed new Primary Care Centre in an Offaly town is currently at Stage 3.

That's according to Fianna Fáil Deputy for Offaly, Barry Cowen, who has welcomed an update on the progress of the building of Birr Primary Care Centre. 

Deputy Cowen said he received a progress report from the HSE which stated that planning for the new centre is currently at Stage 3, in which public submissions have been received. 

The HSE told Deputy Cowen that the closing date for submissions was January 15.  

Deputy Cowen commented, “The HSE have stated that they will now review the submission and they then intend to further update public representatives and local councillors in the second week of February 2021. I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of local councillor Peter Ormond in pushing this issue and ensuring it has been kept on the agenda.” 

The Health Service Executive (HSE) will meet with councillors next month to discuss the ongoing saga of the provision of a primary care centre in Birr.

It was confirmed at the January meeting of the Birr Municipal District that the HSE will come before the councillors on February 8 next.

The issue was raised at the monthly meeting earlier this week by Banagher based councillor, Clare Claffey, who has campaigned on the issue, over the past number of years.

Cllr Claffey outlined how she felt the issue needed to be continuously brought up at the municipal district meetings until the councillors get “clarity on the matter or better still until we get the primary care centre in Birr”.

She pointed out, how in Banagher they were looking forward to the opening of a “fantastic state of the art centre” later this month.

“It is a disgrace that Birr is no closer to what we have now in Banagher. In fact, healthcare in Birr seems to be going in the opposite direction. We have lost our out of hours doctors. We are losing GPs. We are finding it extremely difficult to get doctors appointments and just when we think that we are that little bit nearer something happens and we are back to square one.”

“Healthcare is so important and the last year has thought us that without our health we have nothing. The only slight positive from Birr not having a primary care centre to date is the fact there's a chance that we might be able to get a diagnostic hub and x-ray services, which is something that I have called for since I began this campaign. This would be hugely important not just for Birr but also the surrounding areas. It would take pressure off the services in Tullamore. That being said, we need a building first.”

Cllr Claffey said the development needed to be started soon. “We need the HSE to start communicating properly with us at every stage. No matter what is happening. At every stage, we need to know.”

Ann Dillon, Director of Services, confirmed the HSE, firstly, wrote to the local authority and that there had been correspondence requesting a meeting with the Birr municipal district councillors at its February meeting, which is due to take place on February 8 last, if that was agreeable with the members.

“We can get back to the HSE and confirm they can present to the members at the meeting,” she remarked before the members decided the meeting would not be held in committee.

Cllr John Leahy, an Cathaoirleach of Birr Municipal District, asked the members to agree the agenda for next's month meeting to ensure this subject was “given the time it needed”. “It's an important meeting and we have to give it the full meeting,” Cllr Peter Ormond added.

Meanwhile, anger and frustration continues to grow amongst the people of Birr town with the HSE because of what is being mooted as the organisation's inability to push ahead with the project.

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