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Written Answers. - Cancer Treatment Services.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 359. Mr. McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  if a consultant oncologist will visit in-patients and out-patients at St. Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny, in view of the fact that, at present, very sick patients must travel to Dublin to visit a specialist; his views on whether this situation is wholly unsatisfactory and requires his immediate intervention and resolution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23639/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Oncology services at St. Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny, were disrupted temporarily, due to the maternity leave of one of the board's two oncologists. The board has advised my Department that the oncologist will resume in December 2002 which will enable a dedicated out-patient oncology service to be provided to patients at St. Luke's. In addition, my Department has recently approved the appointment by the board of a third oncologist to further support and develop oncology services in the region. Significant resources have been invested in cancer services in the south east as set out in the following table:

Year Additional Amount€m Cumulative Total€m
2000 1.4 1.4
2001 2.8 4.2
2002 2.3 6.5
Total   12.1

[276]

 360. Mr. McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  the way in which the 12 oncology beds are serviced in terms of back up at Waterford Regional Hospital; if the demand on these beds indicate that the number should be increased; if there is a dedicated oncology ward; the facilities which exist to treat patients on a day care basis; if there is full nursing support for all of these services; the chemotherapy facilities available at the hospital; the number of palliative care beds; and the proposals before his Department for funding in 2003. [23640/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin There are 12 designated beds in Waterford Regional Hospital for haematology-oncology patients. The South-Eastern Health Board has informed my Department that the oncology beds are fully serviced. The board is satisfied that the current level of nursing cover is adequate to support these beds. However, the board expects that there will be increasing demand for oncology services particularly in the light of the development, of the symptomatic breast cancer services in the region. The board has established a project team to examine how best to address these demands, including the need for additional oncology-haematology beds in Waterford Regional Hospital.

Oncology services at Waterford Regional Hospital were disrupted temporarily due to the maternity leave of one of the board's two oncologists. The board has advised my Department that the oncologist will resume in December 2002. In addition, my Department has recently approved the appointment by the board of a third oncologist to further support and develop oncology services in the region.

The board currently treats eight oncology-haematology patients on a day care basis. The board expects to transfer its day care services to a new facility within the Hospital early in the new year and increase the number of day care patients treated at the hospital to approximately ten to 12 depending on the type of treatment required. With regard to palliative care beds, the board, at present, is carrying out a needs assessment in accordance with the recommendations of the report of the national advisory committee on palliative care. The objective is to prepare a revised plan for palliative care in the light of the conclusions and recommendations of this report.

In recent years, significant resources have been invested in cancer services in the south east as set out in the following table:

Year Additional Amount€m Cumulative Total€m
2000 1.4 1.4
2001 2.8 4.2
2002 2.3 6.5
Total   12.1


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