Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Hospital Accommodation Provision
Táim an-bhuíoch don Chathaoirleach as an deis luath seo a thabhairt dom an t-ábhar tábhachtach seo a phlé sa Seanad anocht. Táim ag caint anocht maidir le hospidéal réigiúnach d'oirthuaisceart na tíre. I wish to raise the issue of the proposed regional hospital for the north east. This was promised by Fine Gael in the run-up to the last general election and since then I have been trying to hold the Government to its promise in the Seanad. My colleagues at a local level, particularly those in Meath County Council, and my colleagues in the Navan area, Councillor Shane Cassells, Councillor Tommy Reilly, Councillor Padraig Fitzsimons and Councillor Jenny McHugh, have been raising the issue with Government Deputies locally. What we are being told locally, and also by the Government party councillors, particularly Fine Gael councillors, is that private negotiations are taking place in respect of the provision of a new regional hospital for the north east and that the Government has discussed this with investors who are prepared to build the hospital. What I am seeking is clarity on the position of the Department in respect of these alleged negotiations. Is the Department aware of the negotiations and has it met any of the alleged investors? Is anything happening with regard to the provision of a regional hospital for the north east? I sincerely hope something is happening, but at the meeting yesterday in Meath County Council with Government colleagues I expressed deep scepticism. Perhaps the Minister of State would outline the Department's position on the issue.
Following Government approval, on 14 May 2013 the Minister for Health published two key reports: The Establishment of Hospital Groups as a transition to Independent Hospital Trusts, and Securing the Future of Smaller Hospitals: A Framework for Development. The Government's decision to reorganise acute hospitals into new hospital groups was informed by these reports. This establishment of hospital groups - where small and larger hospitals work together as teams - is a key component in the health reform programme. It also lays the key foundation stone for the eventual abolition of the HSE and the introduction of universal health insurance.
Securing the Future of Smaller Hospitals: A Framework for Development defines the role of smaller hospitals. It focuses in particular on the future role of nine smaller hospitals, including Our Lady's Hospital, Navan. It outlines the need for these smaller hospitals and larger hospitals to operate together with appropriate roles within the hospital group. The framework also outlines in detail the wide range of services that can be provided within smaller hospitals such as that in Navan and commits to the expansion of services delivered in these hospitals, especially in areas such as day surgery, ambulatory care, medical services and diagnostics. Smaller hospitals such as Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, will provide more services, not fewer, with more flexibility, so that the patient is the ultimate beneficiary of this reform.
Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, is part of the new Dublin east hospital group. While the hospital is currently managed as part of the Louth-Meath hospital group, which includes Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, and Louth County Hospital, there will be a structured integration of Navan hospital into the Dublin east hospital group. Within one year of the formation of hospital groups, each group will be required to submit a strategic plan to the Department of Health outlining its plans for future services for each hospital within the group. The provision of services at Navan and all other hospitals will be examined in the context of strategic plans to be developed by each hospital group.
A wide range of services is provided at Navan Hospital, including general medicine and surgery, elective orthopaedic surgery, cardiology, rheumatology and elective gynaecology surgery. Navan hospital, like all hospitals, will play a significant role in its group in providing sustainable, safe and effective care at the appropriate level of complexity. In this regard, a phase 2 build at Our Lady's Hospital Navan will provide enhanced capacity, including a clinical decision unit, rapid assessment triage, and a larger minor injuries unit. This phase 2 build will also incorporate three floors of 22 single en-suite rooms and a new theatre suite. It is anticipated that this additional capacity will be available in 2016.
I am confident that the formation of Irish acute hospitals into a small number of groups will provide an optimum configuration for hospital services, including services at Navan, to deliver high-quality, safe patient care in a cost-effective manner. These significant reforms will take time, but the establishment of hospital groups is a key milestone in achieving the vision for our health system as set out in the Future Health document.
I do not expect the Minister of State, Deputy McGinley, to reply to this because he is not the Minister of State at the Department of Health. The Minister of State has been given a response dealing with Our Lady's Hospital, Navan. The question related to the regional hospital that is proposed for Navan, but there was nothing in the reply about that. One can conclude there are no plans at Government level for a new regional hospital. I will seek a debate on the issue on the next available sitting after Easter, because it is a very important issue. The reply was about Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, but I raised a separate issue. It may well be that there was a mistake or it may be that it was deliberate because there are no plans for a regional hospital, as many of us unfortunately suspect. I am not putting any of the blame on the Minister of State, Deputy McGinley, as it has nothing whatever to do with him. I thank him for coming in but I feel the Department of Health has given a completely irrelevant response in respect of the issue I have raised.