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Minister: completion of Tallinn Hospital by 2026 is realistic

BC, Tallinn, 05.10.2020.Print version
Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik has noted that the schedule targeting the completion of the planned Tallinn Hospital by 2026 is a tight one, but he considers making the complex a reality with the help of European Union funding by then to be realistic, public broadcaster ERR reported, cites LETA/BNS.

The government has decided that Tallinn Hospital must be constructed using funds allocated from the EU's economic recovery fund, set in place to alleviate damages to the economy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The regulations for the fund, however, state that construction must begin by 2023 at the latest, but the hospital complex is still not designed and a detailed plan has not been adopted yet either, which has led to critics calling the idea an unrealistic one, the English-language news portal of ERR reported.

Kiik admitted to ERR that the idea and schedule is indeed ambitious, but he nonetheless considers it a realistic plan. "There is no point in deceiving the public and ourselves. Our desire is to complete the hospital. We understand the schedule is ambitious and faster-paced than normal, but we are in an abnormal situation," the minister noted.

"It is unthinkable that the already depreciated and aged buildings at both the East Tallinn Central Hospital and West Tallinn Central Hospital, some 50, 60, 70 years old and even older, could be sustainable enough to offer high-level medicine. The much-discussed West Tallinn Central Hospital infection clinic was never built to be an infection clinic as such, but it is the best we currently have in Tallinn," the Center Party minister said.

He confirmed the plan is to begin construction on the Tallinn Hospital in 2023, as the EU regulations see it.

According to the minister, 2021 and 2022 will go to design stage, and he believes it is realistic to begin construction on the hospital, considering that the EU economic recovery fund is a unique process, the like of which might not come again in the near future. "We have to use the moment as best we can and this large project is a necessity for Estonian healthcare," Kiik said. 

Firstly, European Commission approval for the project must be acquired and the design process must be initiated the year after.

The plan is to apply for 380 million euros from the EU, supplemented by Tallinn's 100 million, allocated over many years in the budget. The construction is planned to be finished by 2026.

A total of 30 million euros is set for the design process for next year. The Ministry of Social Affairs specified that this funding is also planned to be taken out of the EU's recovery fund, but the European Commission must first approve the project. There is no allocation for Tallinn Hospital in next year's state budget however.

A part of the necessary funding, according to the minister, could be secured by canceling planned investments by the two existing hospitals of the capital city. "The current stance in government discussions was that if we were to construct Tallinn Hospital, which we have decided to do, it is no longer reasonable to make investments into those hospital buildings that are actually planned to be realized, meaning sold, or not to be used as healthcare establishments in the future," Kiik said.

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