Wednesday, 7 May 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
88. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the Pollock report on Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, which found that infrastructure is inadequate and below international standards and points to other serious deficiencies; the steps he intends to take to address the deficiencies identified in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11994/03]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 138 together. As the Deputy is aware, the Eastern Regional Health Authority is charged with responsibility for commissioning health and personal social services on behalf of the population of the region, and also on behalf of those outside the region who are referred for specialist treatment.
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that, on foot of an acknowledgement by all parties of the need for an overall development of the facilities at Crumlin hospital, I approved the establishment of a project team to plan for the future development of the hospital. The team includes representatives from the hospital, the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the Department of Health and Children.
Many of the buildings comprised within the hospital are approximately 50 years old and have not been upgraded in any significant way over that period. As a result, they do not now generally meet contemporary standards for paediatric hospital facilities.
The first stage of the planning process involves writing a brief for the preparation of a development control plan which will set the context for future capital developments on the site. Work on the preparation of the development brief has commenced, and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2003.
It is intended that a phased approach to new development and the upgrade of facilities will be taken. The plans will allow for the prioritisation of developments according to the service needs of the hospital and the ERHA. A phased approach will ensure that services continue to be provided at the hospital during the redevelopment.
A number of additional major developments, funded by the Exchequer, are currently being put in place at the hospital. These include a €30 million investment in the new operating department which will provide two additional theatres, increasing the capacity of the hospital to five major theatres and two minor theatres. Included in this development are new recovery beds, a day surgery unit and a modern central sterile supplies department. This development is expected to increase the capacity of the hospital to meet the additional surgery demands at both in-patient and out-patient level.
In addition, on the basis of the volume and complexity of cases being dealt with at the hospital, I approved the provision of an MRI facility at Crumlin which will significantly enhance the level of diagnostic services provided for children. The project team is currently engaged in the process of identifying the most appropriate location for this service in the context of the overall development plan for the hospital.
The ERHA has allocated substantial additional revenue funding to the hospital in recent years to develop its cardiology services. Funding has been provided for the appointment of two additional consultant cardiologists and support staff which will allow the hospital to develop cardiology services. Funding has also been provided for the development of paediatric oncology and haematology services.
I recently met representatives of the New Crumlin Hospital Group, which is composed of parents of children who regularly attend Crumlin hospital for treatment. It was this group that commissioned the Pollock report into facilities at Crumlin. As I said already, the deficiencies highlighted in the Pollock report are known and accepted. I am committed to the redevelopment programme at Crumlin, and I have given the New Crumlin Hospital Group my assurance that the redevelopment of the hospital is being carefully planned on a phased basis.
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