HSE bosses have delivered a blow to hopes surrounding St Joseph’s Care Centre becoming a leading step down facility for the midlands.
The decision was revealed by Area Manager Joseph Ruane in a reply to a parliamentary question by Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy in recent days.
In a two page letter sent to the Longford/Westmeath TD and which has been obtained by the Leader, Mr Ruane said despite the HSE’s continued commitment to “explore options” for a step down facility in Longford, St Joseph’s was not being examined at this stage.
Mr Ruane said a development control plan was in the process of being developed with an initial draft expected to be ready by the end of September.
Any proposals that involved relocating mental health services out of the Dublin Road campus with a step down facility being added in its place, were similarly discounted.
“At this early stage, the suggestion as regards relocating mental health services out of St Joseph’s Campus and using the vacated property as a step down facility has been discounted based on clinical infrastructure needs for a step down proposal,” said Mr Ruane.
In the meantime, the HSE chief said officials would continue to examine the need for a step down facility at St Joseph’s based on need, current services, demand and whether any prospective facility would address current and future challenges.
Reacting to what he termed as a “very comprehensive answer”, Mr Troy said the letter appeared to pour “cold water” on any lingering hopes of a step down facility being added to St Joseph’s current compliment of services.
News of the apparent rejection comes just a month after a Fine Gael led delegation met Health Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin over the idea.
During those talks, the Dublin West TD reportedly vowed to look “very positively” at the idea.
The response from HSE management this week, however, would appear to have put an end to those aims.