Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Primary Care Centres
This matter relates to the primary care centre in Knocknaheeny. My understanding is that the centre has been completed for more than four years but is not occupied. According to the agenda of Cork City Council, it agreed to transfer the land with the primary care centre on it. I am not sure why it has taken four years for that transfer to take place. A primary care centre is needed in the area. There are more than 1,150 local authority houses in the immediate area, along with a significant catchment of private housing. It is an important area in which to locate a primary care centre. I seek an update on why it has not opened and when it is likely to open.
I thank the Senator for raising this important issue. The key objective of the primary care strategy is to develop services in the community that will give people direct access to integrated multidisciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and members of other health care disciplines. This is central to this Government's objective to deliver a high-quality, integrated and cost-effective health system. The Southern Health Board, SHB, entered into an arrangement with Cork City Council in late 2004 to provide accommodation for primary care services at a new community development the council was planning to build at Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny. The intention at the time was to locate a number of key core primary care services in the new facility. The SHB entered into this arrangement prior to the development of the current strategy for the delivery of primary care infrastructure. The building is deemed by the HSE to be considerably smaller than what is required in the context of the current strategy.
The facility at Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, is one of four blocks on a community service campus, which was constructed by the city council on its property. The council, at its November 2012 meeting, approved a proposal to lease the property to the HSE. The council will provide the HSE with the appropriate support documentation, including title, statutory permissions relating to planning and fire regulations and completion certificates, which will allow the proposed lease to be considered by the HSE property committee within the next four weeks in line with HSE property approval protocols. Until this process is completed, the HSE will not be in a position to begin to deliver services from the leased building.
The HSE's capital plan 2012-2016 contains provision for the delivery of a primary care centre at St. Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital campus. The leased facility will be used to accommodate primary care staff prior to the permanent move to the new primary care centre to be constructed at the St. Mary's campus. It is envisaged that following the completion of the new HSE primary care centre at St. Mary's, the leased building could be used to accommodate services that complement health care services to be delivered from the campus.
I am surprised by this response. I have no information about when it is proposed to build the primary care unit on the St. Mary's campus and I am not aware of the submission of plans. I will table another Adjournment matter to deal with that issue because the centre to which I refer was completed more than four years ago. The Minister of State said the matter goes back to 2004. It is now eight years later and the primary care centre has been there for more than four years. It is only in the past two weeks that the legal transaction and approval by the city council to transfer the building to the HSE occurred.
Why has it taken four years for one statutory agency to transfer this property to another? It does not make sense and a significant amount of time has been lost. I also need clarification as to when it is proposed to deal with St. Mary?s Orthopaedic Hospital. Will this take another eight years while in the meantime services will not be provided?
Several consultants from Cork University Hospital, CUH, are providing paediatric services in Knocknaheeny almost on a voluntary basis every week. It is proving to be successful in the area and assists parents in not having to travel to CUH or other hospitals for treatments.
I thank Senator Burke for raising this issue. I would be more than happy to give him more information on the proposals for the St. Mary's campus. I can only share his frustration over the delay that has occurred. I have no information as to the reason for this delay. It is the Government's intention that these projects, however they are delivered, should be expedited. It is a crucial element of the Government's health strategy. Delays can arise whether for legal or title reasons but the length of time in this case is considerable. I take note of the work being done by the consultants at the community facility in Knocknaheeny, a welcome development. If I can be of any further assistance with the St. Mary's project or other aspects of this development, I would be more than happy to assist the Senator.