Thursday, 25 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
97. Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if funding will be granted to the North Western Health Board for the provision of a health centre in Coolaney County Sligo in view of the fact that the population is growing in this region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30733/04]
Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): The identification, prioritisation and provision of health centres to meet the needs of local communities within its functional area are matters for the relevant health board or the Eastern Regional Health Authority. In the case of Coolaney, County Sligo this responsibility rests with the North Western Health Board. The board has indicated that the development of a new health centre constitutes a regional priority in the context of community health service requirements. However, given its ongoing capital commitments overall, the board was unable to proceed with the development this year. The position will be reviewed again in 2005 under the capital investment framework in the context of new priorities to be progressed in the north western region.
98. Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be assessed by an occupational therapist in relation to their need for an orthopaedic chair. [30735/04]
Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): As the Deputy will be aware, the provision of health services in County Mayo is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the Western Health Board. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the matter raised by the Deputy and reply direct to him as a matter of urgency.
99. Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on the extent of palliative care services available in the Western Health Board area; the position regarding specialist medical cover for the service in Mayo and Roscommon; if she will report on the results of attempts to recruit a qualified local consultant for the service at Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30736/04]
100. Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the efforts made by the Western Health Board and her Department to provide specialist medical care for the palliative care centre at Galway; the details of advertising of positions; the number of interviews held; the position regarding restructuring of second and third posts at consultant level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30737/04]
Palliative care services in the Western Health Board region are provided in a range of settings. Specialist palliative care in-patient services are provided by the Galway Hospice Foundation in Renmore and funded by the Western Health Board. Specialist palliative care is also provided, in the acute hospital setting, by a multidisciplinary consultant-led team and palliative support beds are provided in Ballina and Belmullet. In addition, day care services are available at the specialist palliative care unit in Renmore and home care services are provided in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo. The palliative care service — hospital, hospice and community — emerged in a very positive light in a needs assessment carried out by the board with the service structure and multidisciplinary team providing quality care for patients, families and carers. With the support of Mayo-Roscommon Hospice, additional nursing and allied health professional staff have been recruited since the needs assessment was carried out, further strengthening the service. The board has obtained financial clearance from my Department to proceed with the recruitment of a second palliative care consultant and my Department has also acknowledged the need for a third palliative care consultant post for the Western Health Board.
The health board sought the advice of Comhairle na nOspidéal on how best to structure the consultant-led service in this new and evolving specialty to provide a quality service throughout the region. A subcommittee of Comhairle has met with representatives of the board, the Galway Hospice Foundation and the Mayo-Roscommon Hospice on two occasions and discussions are ongoing.
When posts are approved by Comhairle na
n-Ospidéal, they are filled through the local appointments commission in accordance with the statutory regulations governing such appointments in the public sector. Palliative medicine is a relatively young specialty with few trained specialists in Ireland. It has not been possible to locate a locum consultant either in Ireland, the UK or further afield in South Africa or Australia, despite the use of informal and formal channels including advertisements and recruitment agencies. The board will continue to explore all avenues with a view to securing the services of a locum consultant.
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