Friday, 7 May 2004
Seanad Eireann Debate
Ms Terry: I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Gallagher, for remaining in the House to consider this Adjournment matter on the need for a primary health care centre in Mulhuddart. I raised this issue some 12 months ago and I am concerned that no progress has been made towards a decision to provide the care centre. Mulhuddart has been growing for a long time. Initially it had principally local authority housing, but it is now seeing a great deal of development in private and shared ownership housing. Its former high unemployment rates are showing improvement too, thankfully.
Mulhuddart is covered under the RAPID programme area and I understood that RAPID was a vehicle through which facilities such as the primary health care centre would be delivered. We have not seen the progress promised under the RAPID programme. I ask the Minister of State to announce a date on which funding will be provided for the care centre and the date on when construction will begin. I hope the Minister of State will have good news because the care centre is badly needed in the area. Many people with young families depend on public transport in this growing area and it needs its own primary health care centre. I hope the Minister of State can tell me when the project will get under way.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Gallagher): I thank Senator Terry for the opportunity to speak on this important matter. With regard to the provision of new health centres generally, the identification, prioritisation and provision of such facilities to meet the needs of local communities within its functional area is a matter for the relevant health board or the ERHA, the Eastern Regional Health Authority. In the case of Mulhuddart, this responsibility rests with the ERHA.
The Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, is acutely aware of the key role that health centres play at community level in the delivery of a wide range of services to local populations. For many, the local health centre is the first point of contact with the health services. It is important, therefore, that the facilities are customer-friendly in terms of being modern, well-equipped and accessible. Senator Terry will appreciate that her colleague in the constituency, the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, is also anxious that the matter proceeds.
The ERHA acknowledges the need for a major primary health care centre to serve the growing population of Ladyswell, Mulhuddart and Corduff. It is important that the ERHA makes that acknowledgement. It has advised me that Fingal County Council has provided a two-bedroomed house that will be used as a GP’s surgery. In addition, there is also a small health centre in Corduff.
Within the Mulhuddart area, the Northern Area Health Board currently has three houses rented from Fingal County Council. One is located in Dromheath and is used for child health and drugs counselling services. The other two houses are located in Wellview and are used as a family resource centre. All other primary health and personal social service provision is dealt with through Roselawn health centre, based in Lower Roselawn Road.
Mulhuddart has been highlighted in the national spatial strategy as a key region for development. The area has been included in the RAPID programme for development. The health authority has indicated that the development of a new health centre is a regional priority in the context of the current inadequate local infrastructure and major growth in population in the Mulhuddart area. No one denies that the new health centre is essential in this area of major development and growth.
Senator Terry asked me a direct question about funding and the date of commencement. Unfortunately, I cannot provide that information. The Department of Health and Children is currently finalising the health capital programme for the period 2004-08 and this project will be addressed in the context of the funding resources available. The ERHA has stated that a new health care centre in Mulhuddart is essential, which is the first step. After that is needed approval, funding and a date of commencement. Much as I would like to give Senator Terry those details, they are not currently available. I will speak to the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, at the first opportunity, although Senator Terry may have that opportunity before me. I will also outline to the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, the case made by Senator Terry.
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