Tuesday, 12 April 2005
Hospitals Building Programme.
Brian Lenihan Jnr (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
The current bed complement in St. Brendan's Hospital is 174 beds and 25 day care places. The health and safety co-ordinator undertook a fire risk assessment late last year which raised concerns regarding the upstairs accommodation at St. Brendan's. Several possible solutions are being explored by the Health Service Executive, western area, which is responsible in the first instance for the provision of health services in the Loughrea area including, in light of the report, the relocation of those patients most at risk to ground-floor accommodation while retaining the overall bed complement.
The Government has made services for older people a priority and is fully committed to the development of a comprehensive health service capable of responding quickly, fully and effectively to the health service needs of older people. In recent years, health and social services for older people have improved, both in hospitals and in the community. Since coming into office, the Government has substantially increased the level of funding, both capital and revenue, in respect of services for older people. Between 1997 and 2004, total additional funding allocated was approximately €287 million, and additional funding of €15.228 million was announced for this year. That serves to demonstrate the Government's commitment to improving services for our older population. Significant capital funding for the health sector has been provided since the commencement of the NDP in 2000. Total expenditure for the years 2000 to 2003 was approximately €1.7 billion.
Considerable progress has been made in addressing the historical deficits in health infrastructure and improving the standards and facilities required for quality, modern patient care. The NDP provides considerable capital funding to services for older people. Nationally, that will enable a comprehensive infrastructure of community nursing units and day care facilities to be put in place, as well as the refurbishment of existing extended-care facilities and the replacement of old, workhouse-type accommodation. Older people deserve first-class facilities, and we intend to provide such facilities in appropriate locations.
The implications of the Health Act 2004 providing for the Health Service Executive have been pointed out in many Adjournment replies. Under the Act, the executive has the specified statutory responsibilities, including for the proposed development at St. Brendan's, Loughrea.
The HSE, western area, has prepared a project planning brief for the development of a 40-bed community nursing unit in Loughrea, with expansion to 80 beds. That brief was prepared by a multidisciplinary team, and the group proposed several units based on the major population centres of Tuam, Loughrea and Ballinasloe as the east Galway centres set out in the Western Health Board strategy entitled "Health and Wellbeing for Older People". That proposal was one of several for capital funding submitted by the HSE, western area, to my Department for consideration. As responsibility for development of services now rests with the HSE, any decisions relating to that project will be a matter for the HSE, having regard to the western area's overall capital funding priorities in the context of its service plan for 2005.