Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Hospitals Building Programme.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to raise this important matter, namely, the delay in the provision of the long-awaited 14-bed extension to Kenmare community hospital. I have raised the issue on a regular basis in the past ten years but nobody seems to listen to me or the exasperated people of Kenmare. However, I will continue to raise it until somebody listens and the funding is provided, and the people of Kenmare get the decent hospital they deserve.
The delay is unbelievable. A press release from the former Southern Health Board, dated 3 June 2000, states that at a meeting of the board members on Tuesday, 2 May 2000 the members adopted the national development plan for the Southern Health Board area for the next six years and that the plan covered capital investment for the board. The press release stated that the funding allocated was on a priority basis whereby the urgent needs of each board area was taken into account. Among the developments was the extension to Kenmare community hospital. The Southern Health Board stated the project was urgent in 2000 so what is its status now?
A group from Kenmare met the Minister, Deputy Harney, on 20 June this year. At that meeting she stated she was hopeful that Kenmare community hospital would be included in the Estimates in the autumn. It is autumn and the Minister is preparing the health Estimate. Will a commitment be made that the extension to Kenmare community hospital is included in that Estimate? The Minister also stated at the meeting that she would keep in contact with the Health Service Executive on the matter. What communication has taken place between the Minister and the HSE since 20 June in this regard? The representative group from Kenmare which met the Minister has heard nothing.
The provision of the 14-bed extension to Kenmare hospital is urgently required and was deemed urgent by the Southern Health Board in 2000. The population of Kenmare has risen by 30% since 1996 and is still increasing. Many retired and elderly people have settled in Kenmare and the surrounding areas and there is huge demand for additional beds in thehospital. The hospital services cover a very widearea, including Sneem, Castlecove, Lauragh,Tuosist, Kilgarvan, Blackwater and the BlackValley.
The Minister of State, Deputy Tim O'Malley, replied to me during an Adjournment debate on 21 February last, stating that the project would not commence in 2006 because of competing demands for capital funding but that the project would be reviewed. I understand the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, will read a prepared script in reply in this debate — there is little he can do about it. However, while he may not be able to answer my questions tonight, he could have the decency to come back to me in the coming days or weeks to tell me whether the project is included in the health Estimate for 2006 and to explain what communication has taken place with the HSE since the meeting with the Minister on 20 June. I look forward to a positive report from the Minister that the project will be included in the Estimate for this year.
Brian 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; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Deputy for raising the matter. I deliver this reply on behalf of the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney. It is the policy of the Minister and the Department to maintain older people in dignity and independence at home in accordance with their wishes, and at the same time to provide high quality residential care for older people when living at home is no longer possible.
The Government's commitment to the development of a comprehensive range of services for older people has been clearly demonstrated by the significantly increased resources made available in recent years. From 1997 to 2005, additional spending on health care services was in excess of €302 million. In the budget package announced for 2006, additional revenue funding of €150 million in full-year costs was allocated, that is, €110 million in 2006 and a further €40 million on an annual basis for services for older people.
The prioritisation of all health capital developments is now a matter for the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. The HSE has advised that the provision of a 14-bed extension to Kenmare community hospital has been considered for inclusion in its multi-annual capital programme for the period 2006 to 2010. The Kenmare project involves the replanning of the existing accommodation and the addition of new accommodation to provide an integrated 40-bed hospital to meet present day standards of care. The HSE has completed a draft accommodation brief for the enlargement of the hospital.
The HSE has confirmed that this project was not included in its 2006 capital programme. This was due to competing demands for capital funding, including other significant capital projects in the Kerry area, of which I am sure the Deputy is aware, which require investment in 2006. However, the HSE has advised that the capital programme will be reviewed and reprioritised on a rolling annual basis. Depending on available resources and the progress of other projects, proposed developments such as the extension to Kenmare community hospital will be reconsidered by the HSE for inclusion in its revised future capital programme.