Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Primary Care Centres Provision
I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, for coming to the House this morning to address this matter. I seek an update on the development of a primary care centre in Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon. As a person from Ballaghaderreen and as a healthcare professional, I cannot emphasise enough the need to develop this primary care centre in our town to deliver enhanced health services locally. We all know this is important from the development of primary care centres across the country where people have, rightly, been able to access quality healthcare close to where they live. The current health centre in Ballaghaderreen is not fit for purpose and the development of a modern, professional space is required to deliver services in our area. Local people should be able to access a wide range of services, including GP services, public health nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, counselling, clinical nutrition advice and mental health services under one roof in a modern, purpose-built setting.
I have been working on this issue for some time and believe strongly in the need for the development. Last October, the HSE was in the final stages of agreeing a schedule of accommodation and a floor plan for the centre. I hope the Minister of State can provide an update in this regard and that we have progressed further than the position in October. Health services locally are under huge pressure and it is important to deliver the primary care centre. However, a building is just that. We must also see increased capacity to support people who need to access our health services locally.
I thank the Senator for raising this matter of significance and personal importance for her as a person from Ballaghaderreen. The HSE has responsibility for the provision, maintenance and operation of primary care centres and other primary care facilities. I am happy to inform the Senator that I have received a positive update from the HSE on the proposed primary care centre for Ballaghaderreen. The centre will be delivered under the operational lease mechanism whereby the HSE leases the accommodation from the developer selected to build the centre to the HSE's specifications. Preparatory work is progressing to agree the lease to be entered between the HSE and the selected developer. The HSE advises that the schedule of accommodation to which the Senator referred has been agreed for the proposed centre, which will be located on the Roscommon Road at the site of the current doctor's surgery. I understand agreement on a floor plan is at the final stages and that planning permission will be applied for once it is agreed. It is hoped that this will be secured by the end of June this year. As I am sure the Senator will appreciate, it is not possible to provide an estimated operational date until planning permission is secured.
The expansion of community and primary care is at the heart of the Sláintecare vision. As Minister of State with responsibility for mental health and older people, I share the commitment of the Minister for Health to ensuring people get the care they need as close to home as possible and have access to a greater range of health and social care services within their communities. In this respect, Senator Hopkins will welcome the investment in primary care in County Roscommon. When the Ballaghaderreen centre comes on stream, it will be in addition to the five primary care centres already operational in the county at Boyle, Monksland, Castlerea, Roscommon and Strokestown. Our investment in Roscommon reflects the Government's determination to develop the primary care sector. There are now 126 primary care centres in operation across the country, 18 of which became operational in 2018. In addition, there are approximately 80 other locations where primary care infrastructure is either being developed or is at advanced or early planning stages. Of these, 12 centres are expected to become operational in 2019. We must and will continue to invest in the development of primary care centres in both urban and rural areas nationally to enhance and expand the capacity in the sector to deliver high quality, integrated care to people in their own communities.
I thank the Minister of State for the update. While it is positive that work is progressing, I emphasise that every effort must be made to ensure there are no delays in the delivery of the centre. In fact, I cannot overemphasise the importance of the centre to the region nor can I overemphasise the need for capacity provision, which means increased staffing allocations. By way of an update on the location for those who are interested in the development of the primary care centre in Ballaghaderreen, I understand that it will be located on the Convent Road outside the town and not on the Roscommon Road at the current doctor's surgery. That is important. As the Minister of State said, the project needs to go through the planning and other stages. As such, every effort must be made by the HSE and the Department to facilitate its delivery as quickly as possible.