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Written Answers. - General Medical Services Scheme.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 351. Mr. F. McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  the measures he will take to improve conditions for patients and staff at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23471/02]

[272]Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the position in relation to Beaumont Hospital and to refute the implication that there has been any neglect of the hospital by this Government in terms of its development or refurbishment.

In February 2000 the Department of Health and Children approved major equipment replacement and refurbishing works at Beaumont Hospital. As the Deputy will appreciate, major works such as these must, of necessity, be introduced on a phased basis to minimise disruption to patient services. The replacement equipment programme, costing approximately €11 million, is almost completed. A new range of windows is currently being tested as part of a €5.3 million replacement programme. Work is also due to begin in the near future on a €365,000 roof waterproofing programme. New air conditioning units have recently been installed in the X-ray department and surgical theatres, at a cost of €355,000. The Department, the hospital and the ERHA are finalising proposals for the refurbishment phase of the project. This work is being progressed as a priority.

In terms of acute hospital bed capacity the Deputy will be aware that the Government decided, in the context of the health strategy, to provide an additional 3,000 beds in acute hospitals over the next ten years. I announced the first phase of these additional beds with the commissioning of an extra 709 beds in acute hospitals at a cost of €65 million. The latest advice to the Department from the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards indicates that in excess of 600 beds will be in place by year end and that the remainder will be commissioned early in the new year. The increase in bed capacity will allow the hospital system to significantly increase activity levels for public patients. An additional 35 beds are being provided at Beaumont Hospital under this initiative. The Department is informed by the ERHA that these beds will be commissioned early in 2003.

The health strategy, Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You, outlines a programme of investment and reform of the health services. The underlying principle is to ensure that care is delivered in the most appropriate setting. Strategies are being developed in the areas of primary and community care, services for older people and physical and sensory disability services to increase the capacity of such services to provide the necessary care in the appropriate setting.

The Deputy will be aware that funding has been provided in recent years for the contracting of additional places in private nursing homes to help reduce the effect of inappropriately placed patients on the acute hospital system. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that an additional €1 million has recently been provided to the ERHA to cover the cost of providing additional contract beds in the current year. This additional funding will further assist in alleviating the pressure of inappropriate bed occupancy in the acute [273] hospitals over the winter months. I understand that Beaumont will have access to an additional ten places under this initiative.

I am confident that the measures taken, including the capital investment, by my Department, the authority and the hospital concerned, will provide a greatly enhanced environment and service at Beaumont Hospital for patients, staff and visitors.

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