Tuesday, 28 June 2016
Primary Care Centres Provision
I thank the Minister of State for attending. I raised this matter previously in the House. In 2012, the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government made an announcement about the provision of 35 primary care centres. By way of written response received in December 2015 on one primary care centre in the heart of my constituency in Dublin South-Central, the answer received by the Minister was that the planning was not completed in the timeframe for public private partnership. It is a net issue and I seek the Minister's response on the matter.
The rationale for allocating the primary care centre to Crumlin and Drimnagh was that it was needed; it was not for a political reason. There is a massive need in the community for such a centre. I would like to know when the centre will be commenced, if planning permission has been applied for, if there is a plan in place, and the progress that has been made on that particular centre.
I am taking this matter on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, but if there are specific questions, I ask Senator Ardagh to let me know and we will get back to her. I thank the Senator for raising this issue.
The programme for a partnership Government commits to a decisive shift within the health service towards primary care in order to deliver better care close to home in communities across the country. Enhancing and expanding capacity in the primary care sector is crucial to ensuring delivery of a preventive, joined-up approach to the management of the nation's health and the modernisation of primary care delivery. Primary care centres facilitate the delivery of multidisciplinary primary care services and shift the focus of the health service from a hospital-centric model towards a primary care model whereby services can be delivered more effectively and efficiently. I know the Senator is aware of this. In a fully developed primary care system, 90% to 95% of people's day-to-day health and social care needs can be met in the primary care setting. Essentially, the goal is to provide the right care in the right place at the right time. Primary care centres throughout the country significantly enhance the accessibility of health services in local communities. They enable people get the care they need as close to home as possible.
I can advise the Senator that more than 90 primary care centres are already operational. A further 82 centres are at varying stages of development and will, when completed, significantly enhance and expand capacity in the primary care sector to deliver a preventive, joined-up approach to the management of the nation's health and the modernisation of primary care delivery. These additional primary care facilities across the country will be provided through a combination of direct build, public private partnership, and the HSE's primary care operational lease mechanism.
As the Senator has correctly pointed out, the Crumlin-Drimnagh primary care centre was one of 16 locations selected for delivery through a PPP project. I am advised by the HSE that the Dublin City Council decision to grant planning permission for the development was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by third parties. I am further advised that the planning permission grant from An Bord Pleanála for the development was, however, not received in time for the site to be included in the PPP project. An alternative means of funding the development is through the HSE's capital plan. However, the HSE has advised that it is not in a position to allocate funding to this project until 2020, although further consideration could be given in the context of the 2017 capital review.
Notwithstanding this, there are a number of primary care developments in the area which support the delivery of primary care services in the Crumlin-Drimnagh area. These developments include the extensive refurbishment of the Old County Road health centre in Crumlin, which has recently been completed, and a primary care centre to be provided by way of operational leasing at Cashel Road, Walkinstown. This centre is currently in construction and is anticipated that it will be operational by the fourth quarter of 2017. In addition, a primary care centre is also planned for in Rialto, again for delivery by way of operational leasing. Planning approval has been granted and it is anticipated that construction will commence before the end of the fourth quarter of 2016.
I can assure Senator Ardagh that the development of primary care is central to the Government's objective to deliver a high-quality, integrated and cost-effective health care system. I intend to consider future infrastructure in the context of the implementation of the health commitments in the programme for Government and having regard to the funding available to facilitate such measures.