Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
249. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the future proposals for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin; if her attention has been drawn to the views regarding the pivotal nature of the hospital in the context of paediatrics in the future; if her further attention has been drawn to the volume of professional opinion regarding same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46037/09]
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): Services at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, National Children’s Hospital Tallaght and the Children’s University Hospital Temple Street will transfer to the new National Paediatric Hospital. Pending completion of the project, the HSE will continue to finance the provision and development of services at each of the transferring hospitals.
The way to provide the best possible paediatric tertiary care most effectively involves the creation of one single national paediatric hospital, alongside a major teaching hospital, bringing together all the medical and nursing expertise for complex conditions. The concept of bringing together all three present services is widely accepted.
The Children’s Health First Report commissioned by the Health Service Executive indicated that the population and projected demands in this country can support only one world class tertiary paediatric hospital. It recommended that the hospital should be in Dublin and should, ideally, be located with a leading adult academic hospital in order to optimize the outcomes for children. Following detailed consideration, it was decided that the most appropriate location for the new National Paediatric Hospital is at the Mater Hospital.
I am aware that concerns have been expressed in the past by some members of staff and families of patients and others who currently access Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght. However, I welcome the recent decision by the Hospital to participate fully in the development of the project and to nominate representatives to the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.
The development of the National Paediatric Hospital is a priority project for the Government. The project is proceeding as planned and is being overseen by the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board which was established in May, 2007. The HSE is working closely with the Board in progressing the project, which is scheduled for completion and commissioning in 2014.
The real challenge in paediatrics is to maximise the efficient use of all our healthcare capacity both in Dublin and across the country. Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght paediatric services need to be increasingly working in a co-ordinated, shared and efficient fashion to prepare for the eventual coming together of the three institutions into one national paediatric hospital. The HSE is actively pursuing ways in which services across the three hospitals can best be co-ordinated, to avoid unnecessary duplication and to achieve savings that can be put back into patient care.
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): Radiotherapy services will transfer from St. Luke’s to St James’s Hospital and Beaumont Hospital as part of the implementation of the National Plan for Radiation Oncology. The decision is based on expert advice and is designed to ensure that radiation oncology is integrated with all other aspects of cancer care, including surgery and medical oncology. This is in line with best international practice. The Board of St. Luke’s Hospital and its Executive Management Team are fully committed to supporting the Government’s decision in relation to the development of radiation oncology and a Transition Team has been established to oversee developments.
No decisions have yet been taken in relation to the future use of the site and facilities at St. Luke’s. However, I am anxious to ensure that these resources are utilised in the best interest of the health services. I understand that the Friends of St. Luke’s are preparing a report on possible future uses of the site and facilities and I hope to receive a copy of this report shortly.
It is important to note that the complete transfer of services from St. Luke’s Hospital to new facilities at St. James’s Hospital and Beaumont Hospital is not due to take place for a number of years. A partial transfer will occur in the last quarter of 2010. In the meantime, additional linear accelerators were commissioned at St. Luke’s last year in order to provide much needed interim capacity pending the roll out of the National Plan for Radiation Oncology.
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