Thursday, 8 February 1996
Dáil Éireann Debate
21. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health the number of people with special needs under the special hospital programme that are waiting appropriate placement in service but due to lack of necessary funding will be denied such service; if he will give a breakdown of the figures for each health board area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2613/96]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to persons with a mental handicap in psychiatric hospitals when he refers to people with special needs under the special hospital programme.
The latest statistics available indicate that there were 935 persons with a mental handicap accommodated in public psychiatric hospitals on 31 December, 1994. This compares with 2,170 persons in 1981. This 1994 figure shows an increase of 20 on the figure given by me in recent replies to parliamentary questions due to an error in respect of figures submitted by one of the health boards.
Information regarding the number of persons with a mental handicap in psychiatric hospitals on 31 December, 1995 is currently being collected by my Department as part of the annual statistical returns submitted by the mental health services.
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The figure of 935 would include a number of persons who are not inappropriately placed because of the nature of their ongoing mental health needs. However, a large proportion of those currently accommodated in psychiatric hospitals would, however, be considered for transfer to more appropriate care settings as resources come on stream.
Where persons with a mental handicap continue to be cared for in psychiatric hospitals, health boards are encouraged to care for them in separate accommodation and to develop programmes of activity suited to their needs. The reduction in the numbers of persons with a mental handicap in psychiatric hospitals has enabled hospital management to increase the staff/client ratio and to reduce the numbers accommodated in the various units to the benefit of the remaining clients.
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