Seanad debates

Thursday, 5 May 2005

1:00 pm

Tom Morrissey (Progressive Democrats)
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The community mothers' programme has run successfully in Finglas, Ballymun and Coolock for the past seven years. It is worthwhile because it enables young mothers to deal with their young children often in difficult situations. Many of these mothers are vulnerable and I ask that consideration be given to extending the programme to the greater Blanchardstown area where a similar scheme is needed.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Senator for raising this matter and am happy to have the opportunity to respond. The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on I January 2005. Under the Act, the executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services.

The HSE has advised me that the community mothers' programme was established by the former Eastern Health Board and operated as a standalone centralised service. Following the establishment of the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the three area health boards, the community mothers' programme continued to be managed by the Northern Area Health Board on behalf of the three area boards.

The HSE has further informed me that in 2003 the Northern Area Health Board had the programme independently evaluated. The main recommendations were that the service should be mainstreamed and that it required further development. The service is not uniformly accessible throughout the former Eastern Health Board area, namely, Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow, mainly owing to the major increase in population in recent years. To meet the immediate service needs, including the extension of the service to the greater Blanchardstown area, further investment may be required and the HSE is considering this issue.