Seanad debates

Thursday, 13 October 2011

2:00 pm

Photo of Kathleen LynchKathleen Lynch (Cork North Central, Labour)

I am taking this Adjournment matter on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly, and I thank the Senator for raising it. I am glad to have an opportunity to outline the current position and speak about the scandalous neglect in this area in the past ten years, particularly at a time when we had more money than we knew what to do with it. The then Government could have resolved this issue, but it chose not to do so, which is a scandal we also need to address. The neglect of persons with cystic fibrosis is scandalous.

The Government firmly believes the needs of cystic fibrosis patients must be recognised and respected. The Minister for Health has stated his Department's policy that there must be sufficient in-patient beds to treat all people with cystic fibrosis who require hospitalisation. I am happy to say construction of the new 100 bed unit at St. Vincent's Hospital is well under way and due to be completed next year. The new building which will have single en suite rooms and isolation rooms will play a vital role in the treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis and a range of other conditions. Cork University Hospital has the second largest adult cystic fibrosis centre in Ireland. That centre caters for the needs of 145 attending adult patients from the Munster region.

In September 2007 Dr. Barry Plant was appointed as director of the adult cystic fibrosis programme at Cork University Hospital. Since his appointment, he has worked closely with various HSE services, philanthropic organisations such as Build4Life and the CFAI and scientific research agencies in advancing the needs of these patients. In June 2008, in consultation with the cystic fibrosis multidisciplinary team and the cystic fibrosis community locally, he submitted a statement of need for cystic fibrosis services to the executive management board of Cork University Hospital. This document which was approved by the board outlined a strategic plan to develop cystic fibrosis services in the hospital, including the provision of day and in-patient facilities.

The cystic fibrosis day centre caters for most clinical needs of cystic fibrosis patients. It includes five isolation rooms, a dedicated cystic fibrosis gym, a multidisciplinary team room and consultant rooms. The day centre was opened in May this year. The capital costs for this development were provided for through a partnership approach between HSE South and the Build4Life organisation.

Dr. Plant is working with the executive management board of Cork University Hospital to develop a designated in-patient unit, with en suite rooms for cystic fibrosis patients. A location has been identified for a combined designated adult in-patient facility and respiratory unit in a vacated ward on the Cork University Hospital campus. Provisional plans and costings have been made, with an estimated build cost of approximately €3 million. The hospital is working in partnership with Build4Life to co-fund this development.

To date, Build4Life has raised more than €2 million to support cystic fibrosis capital developments at Cork University Hospital. HSE South is examining ways to secure additional capital funding to complete the unit in the context of decreasing capital budget allocations in the current stringent climate. The need to develop the adult in-patient facility remains a board and HSE South priority and the HSE will continue to work with Build4Life to complete the project.

The Minister recently met the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland and is keenly aware of the needs of people living with cystic fibrosis. The Minister is available to meet the Senator.


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