Written Answers. - Special Needs Placement.

Thursday, 8 February 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 461 No. 3

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  21.  Mr. Callely  Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely   asked the Minister for Health  Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan   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,: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael 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.

The breakdown by health board area is as follows:

Board No. of Persons
Eastern 363
Midland 36
Mid-Western 137
North-Eastern 55
[786]North-Western 18
South Eastern 161
Southern 92
Western 73
Total 935

Included in the 1994 figure are a number of persons due to be transferred in 1995 to more appropriate care settings.

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.

My Department is at present actively considering a number of proposals for the transfer of clients with a mental handicap to more appropriate accommodation.


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