Dáil debates

Tuesday, 30 March 2004

Adjournment Debate.

Hospitals Building Programme.

8:00 pm

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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I hope the Minister of State has more information for me than was offered to Deputy Stanton on the previous matter raised.

A building at South Tipperary General Hospital at St. Joseph's, Clonmel, has been vacant for more than 12 months. It should house a 40 bed surgical unit, a 15 bed day unit and an accident and emergency unit. It has been idle and had been a white elephant for the past 12 months. The local health board has repeatedly contacted the Department of Health and Children requesting funding to equip and staff the units. They have been promised on a number of occasions since last March that the moneys would be made available and that it would be possible to open the units in a reasonably short period of time.

I hope the Minister of State will be able to answer the questions I have raised. When will the moneys and funding be made available to equip the units that are lying idle in St. Joseph's Hospital? When will the moneys be made available to employ the staff to run the units? Despite the best efforts of well-qualified and committed staff, health services in south Tipperary have been inadequate for a number of years. Staff have not been given the necessary resources to provide a quality health service for the citizens of south Tipperary.

After waiting 12 months, I demand that the Minister finally announce the funding for equipping and staffing the unit and give a date for opening it. Even if it is just before the local elections, I want to see the unit opened and not left lying there for another 12 months having already lain idle for the past 12 months denying a quality service to the people of south Tipperary. I do not want to hear a load of balderdash from the Minister tonight — I want answers to the questions raised. I ask the Minister to inform the House when funding will be made available to equip and staff the unit and when it will be opened.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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I take this opportunity to outline the position regarding the development of hospital services at South Tipperary General Hospital.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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I did not ask about that.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The south Tipperary hospital agreement, which was signed in January 1996, paved the way for development——

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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On a point of order, I did not ask the Minister anything about the development or any agreement signed. I asked the Minister to tell the House when he will make funding available to equip and staff the unit and I would appreciate if he would outline that.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The south Tipperary hospital agreement, which was signed in January 1996, paved the way for development of hospital services in the region and the bringing together of surgery and medicine on a single site. The major capital development programme, to which the Deputy referred, to provide the infrastructure to facilitate the transfer of surgical services from Our Lady's Hospital, Cashel, to St. Joseph's Hospital, Clonmel, is now complete. In October of last year, St. Joseph's Hospital celebrated the 150th anniversary of its foundation and these celebrations coincided with the official opening of a number of new facilities at the hospital, including a coronary care step down unit, medical assessment unit, cardiac rehabilitation unit, a new 35-bed medical ward, a CT department and a library and education centre.

The next phase of the development involves the provision of a new accident and emergency department, ward accommodation, operating theatres, intensive care unit, day care unit, central sterile supplies department, physical medicine department and education and consulting rooms.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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There are no answers to the questions I raised.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The integration of acute services on one site will greatly enhance the services available to patients in the region.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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We get pure evasion and no replies to matters on the Adjournment and parliamentary questions.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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This is not a parliamentary question but a——

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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No, it is a matter on the Adjournment and I have got no replies to the matters I raised.

Séamus Pattison (Carlow-Kilkenny, Labour)
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The Deputy should allow the Minister of State to speak.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, has already stated that he is fully committed to achieving this objective in as timely a manner as possible——

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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Some 12 months after it was completed hardly represents a timely manner

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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——and subject to available resources.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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That was what he said 12 months ago when he visited the hospital for its 150th anniversary.

Séamus Pattison (Carlow-Kilkenny, Labour)
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The Minister should be allowed to reply. It is not in order to interrupt.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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After the transfer of the surgical services, Our Lady's Hospital will be used to provide services for the elderly and for those with mental and physical disabilities. The estimated capital investment for the first phase of the development of Our Lady's Hospital, Cashel, will be approximately €12 million.

As the Deputy will be aware the provision of hospital services for south Tipperary is a matter for the South Eastern Health Board.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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It is funded by the Department.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The board has sought additional resources to complete the transfer of surgical and emergency services to South Tipperary General Hospital.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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When will it get them?

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy made his name by not giving his local town council resources so I will not be treated in this way in the House on the Adjournment.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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The people in south Tipperary do not want to be treated in this way either.

Séamus Pattison (Carlow-Kilkenny, Labour)
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The Minister should reply without interruption.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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For 12 months we have been asking for money to be made available. It is about time we got an answer.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The Department of Health and Children and senior management of the health board are working closely together with a view to equipping and opening the new facilities as soon as possible. The Minister and his officials will continue to work with the South Eastern Health Board to resolve the outstanding issues so that the people of south Tipperary can see the benefits of the significant investment in health services in the area.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
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There were no replies to any of my questions.