Wednesday, 5 July 2006
Seán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
I thank the Senator for raising this matter, as it provides me with an opportunity to outline to the Seanad the need for an Alzheimer's unit at St. Ita's Hospital, Newcastle West.
The provision of health services in County Limerick is a matter for the Health Service Executive mid-western area in the first instance. In 2000, as part of the national development plan, it was agreed that a project team would be established for the development of a ten-bed elderly mentally infirm unit at the hospital in question. The team subsequently decided that the development should be increased to a 12-bed unit. The scope of this development is in keeping with the objectives laid down in the report entitled The Years Ahead — A Policy for the Elderly and will comprise bed accommodation and ancillary facilities initially for 12 inpatients, including a maximum of four dedicated respite beds.
Provision had been made for this development within the HSE's 2006-10 capital plan. Planning permission for the proposed development has been obtained from the local planning authority and the design work has been completed. I realise that the project has not progressed as quickly as the Senator or anyone would have wished, but it will proceed. It is anticipated that construction will commence before the end of 2006. I hope the Senator will welcome this news.