Fine Gael TD and Chairman of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, Martin Heydon, has confirmed that the announcement of a new acute mental health unit at Naas Hospital is a significant new decision by Government as part of Project Ireland 2040.

“In December 2016, then Minister for Mental Health Helen McEntee allocated €5.5m funding to Lakeview Acute Mental Health Unit in Naas to address some physical infrastructural deficits at the Lakeview unit. This was to deliver just an additional eight beds and a high observation unit to alleviate service pressures at the facility. This allocation enabled a design team to conduct scoping and design work initially.

“Since then I have brought Minister McEntee and her successor Minister Jim Daly on two separate visits to Lakeview unit in Naas to show them at first hand that a new stand alone unit was needed instead of just addressing existing infrastructural deficits.

“When Lakeview was constructed in the late 80’s it was to cater for a population of 138,000 in Kildare West Wicklow, now 30 years on the catchment population has grown by 100,000 to 240,000. At present there are only 29 beds in Lakeview and many Kildare people in need of acute care have to be placed in Portlaoise or Dublin.

“I am delighted that as part of Project Ireland 2040 a brand new state of the art unit has been confirmed that will cater for the future demands in Kildare. A meeting of HSE estates will take place in March that will consider the present detailed design for the new build on the site of Naas General Hospital.

“The added benefit for Kildare is that a new build will free up the space in the present Lakeview unit that adjoins Naas General Hospital for potentially increased hospital space. While Project Ireland 2040 has confirmed a badly needed new endoscopy unit for Naas Hospital to include a 25 bed day ward, oncology and physical health services, a development which will strengthen the role of Naas within its hospital grouping, it is also recognised that overall bed capacity in Kildare’s hospital must be increased.

“Project Ireland 2040 aims to provide an additional 2,600 hospital beds by 2040, it is imperative that some of that is in Naas General due to the exponential growth in our population in recent years. The additional space in the present Lakeview unit could facilitate the speedy delivery of that increased capacity.

It is disappointing that Kildare South Fianna Fáil TD Fiona O Loughlin tried to state that this new acute mental health unit for Kildare was somehow announced previously. I am delighted that having lobbied successive Ministers for Mental Health for a new unit that will cater for all Kildare people who need this service that such a development is now confirmed along with a state of the art endoscopy unit for all Kildare residents.