Dáil debates

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

10:00 am

Photo of John MoloneyJohn Moloney (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

I am taking this Adjournment debate on behalf of the Minister for Health and Children.

Patient safety is central to the delivery of health services. People must have confidence in the care they receive and have the best possible outcomes. The way in which we deliver acute hospital services to our communities and their wider regions is changing.

The HSE has made significant progress in re-organising acute hospital and related services in the mid-west region since April 2009. While this has involved the relocation of some more complex services to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital at Dooradoyle, in the interests of patient safety and quality, Ennis General Hospital, as part of the regional hospital network, now undertakes an expanded range of day case surgery and diagnostic work. The Minister is anxious that the range of such services provided in Ennis General Hospital should continue to be expanded, so that people can have most of their health care needs met as close as possible to where they live.

All the cardiology services currently available in Ennis General Hospital will continue. The future of these services at Ennis General Hospital is secure and they will continue to be provided by a specialist cardiology team. In fact, these services will be expanded further, with the addition of cardiac failure clinics and cardiac rehabilitation services for patients who have had the acute phase of their illness managed in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick.

In deciding on the best model for the provision of cardiac services in the region, the unanimous medical advice is to centralise acute cardiology to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick. This is in line with the model being developed in the region, whereby services are organised on an integrated regional basis, delivered in a range of locations and settings. To facilitate this, a fourth cardiologist is being appointed. This will facilitate a separate cardiology rota, giving patients access to a cardiologist on a 24-hour basis for emergency cases in the region.

Interventional cardiology will be performed in the designated cardiac catheterisation laboratory in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick, thereby enabling patients to receive the best possible care in the event of an acute cardiac episode. Six additional inpatient cardiology beds will be designated in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital to support this service. These developments will be brought on stream in the course of 2011, after the fourth cardiologist has taken up duty. General medical services will continue to be provided at Ennis, and the majority of medical patients, including respiratory patients, will continue to be treated at the hospital.

Ennis General Hospital has recently been a recipient of significant investment, with the installation of a CT scanner at a cost of €900,000, which became operational in 2009. In addition, an endoscopy suite for day medical procedures, at a total cost of €2.5 million, is under construction and is due to be completed by April 2011. The HSE has received planning permission for a new ward block containing 50 replacement beds. It is estimated that the construction of these facilities, which will cost €8 million, will be completed by the end of 2011.

The Minister and the HSE recognise the importance of Ennis General Hospital and the contribution it has made and will continue to make to the provision of hospital services in the region. Ennis General Hospital is a pivotal component in the provision of acute services in the mid-west. I assure the House on the Minister's behalf that there will be no reduction in the level of cardiology services provided at Ennis General Hospital and that it will continue to play an important role in the provision of health services to the population of the mid-west region.

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