Wednesday, 3 November 1971
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan) asked the Minister for Health to make a statement on the present position regarding the provision and staffing of a gynaecological and obstetrical unit at Lisdarn Hospital, Cavan; and if he will expedite the provision and staffing of these units.
As regards the staffing, owing to the regretted death of the obstetrician/gynaecologist, a vacancy exists and I understand that a statutory request has been sent to the Local Appointments Commission for the filling of the vacancy. So far as my Department are concerned every co-operation will be extended to the North-Eastern Health Board in connection with the provision and staffing of this unit which is primarily the responsibility of that board.
I understand that at present the maternity unit at Lisdarn is staffed by a local general practitioner and a house officer. Maternity patients presenting difficult problems and gynaecological patients are referred to Dublin maternity hospitals. Emergency gynaecological operations are carried out by the county surgeon. Efforts are being made to fill the vacancy for a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology on a temporary  basis pending the making of the permanent appointment.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan): Is the Minister aware that, since the appointment of the late Dr. O'Neill as gynaecologist a couple of years ago, no proper accommodation was provided at Lisdarn by way of beds or a theatre? Is the Minister further aware that what the doctors and the staff there want is about six extra beds and a theatre at the end of the corridor outside the building adjacent to the labour ward? Would the Minister take steps to approve the proposals supported by the staff? Finally, would the Minister please ask the Local Appointments Commission to expedite the appointment of a full-time gynaecologist/obstetrician in Cavan?
Mr. Childers: I will make a note of what the Deputy says in regard to the permanent appointment. I will look into any application that I have received from the North-Eastern Health Board with regard to improvements in the maternity accommodation.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan): May I draw the Minister's attention to the fact that an inspection committee visited Lisdarn recently from the North-Eastern Health Board and I understand that they approved fully of the suggestions I made that about six beds and a theatre be provided where indicated by the visiting committee. I would ask the Minister to approve of the alterations in the plans to have these six beds and a theatre provided.
Mr. Childers: I am glad to hear from the Deputy about agreement being reached on this because my information is that a sub-committee of the board was set up to review the plans about which there was disagreement previously.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan) asked the Minister for Health if he is  aware that the ENT clinic at the County Clinic, Cavan, has not been held for some time; when such a clinic was last held there; what facilities are now available to Cavan patients needing this treatment; and when it is proposed to resume the clinic.
Mr. Childers: I understand that the specialist providing the out-patient ENT service at Cavan resigned from the post on the 31st March last. The last clinic held by him was on 30th March. The North-Eastern Health Board have been making every endeavour to fill the vacancy but have not so far been successful. In the meantime they have been arranging for patients requiring this service to be seen at out-patient clinics at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital and other appropriate hospitals.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan): Is the Minister aware that patients requiring this service have to travel to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital at their own expense and as a result they are suffering considerable expense and inconvenience? Again, I would ask the Minister to see to it that a specialist is appointed and that these essential clinics are resumed at the County Clinic, Cavan.
Mr. Childers: The Deputy will be aware that this is a matter for the health board but every effort is being made to fill the post. It was advertised on the 4th May. One application was received and when the arrangements were being finalised the person who apparently had agreed to take the post refused to take it.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan) asked the Minister for Health what plans the North-Eastern Health Board have for the provision of suitable geriatric accommodation in County Cavan; and when and where the necessary buildings will be erected.
In addition to the foregoing scheme, a number of other projects have been submitted for consideration by the North-Eastern Health Board. As the available resources would not be sufficient to meet all the requests which are made for assistance it will be necessary to establish an order of priorities. This matter is at present under consideration and I expect that decisions will be arrived at during the present month as to which schemes it will be possible to allow to proceed in 1972-73.
Mr. Childers: No question of it not proceeding but the selection of geriatric beds in the North-Eastern Health Board area has to be finally arranged in connection with next year. I think I can give some assurance to the Deputy that requests from Cavan will be likely to receive favourable consideration.
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