The GSD has slammed the delayed opening of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Residential Facility as “a planning fiasco”.
The criticism follows exchanges in Parliament during which the Gibraltar Government, in response to Opposition questions, revealed that the building for the residential facility had not yet been handed over by the contractor.
Health Minister Neil Costa said he anticipated the building would be ready by April next year.
He also confirmed that a preferred bidder had been identified for the running of the Dementia Day Care Centre and would be announced in January.
The GSD said this had created an unusual situation in which a company – Grand Home Care – had already been retained to run the residential facility, even though the building was not ready. Conversely, a company had yet to be announced for the day care centre, even though the building was already in the government’s possession.
Last night Opposition MP Roy Clinton said he was “frankly shocked” with the minister’s response in Parliament, adding that he had been led to believe by earlier government statements through 2016 that the opening of the residential unit was imminent.
“We now have a situation where the service provider has been chosen and yet the physical building is apparently not even ready for occupation,” he said.
“Ironically the reverse is true for the Day Care Centre where the building is ready and yet the service provider will not be announced until 2017.”
“Despite having over £2.4 million earmarked for service provision for this financial year 2016/17 it is evident that the Government will not be able to provide the various services until well into 2017 and thus the next financial year.”
“I can only describe this as a planning fiasco and trust the Government will apologise to those service users and families who have been waiting for so long for the various facilities to open.”
During the exchange in Parliament, Opposition leader Daniel Feetham noted that the handover date for the residential building was after the end of the current financial year.
He asked whether this had anything to do “with the fact that the government has spent so much money over the last five years, £750m in capital projects alone, that unfortunately there isn’t enough in the kitty for this to be opened earlier?”
Mr Costa replied that the reason “has nothing to do with finances”.
“As he can imagine, I am being intensely pressed to open as soon as is humanly possible, and as he can also imagine that’s also the desire on this side of the House,” the minister said.