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Written Answers - Hospital Closures

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 19.  Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if any small hospitals will be closed either as part of reconfiguration or due to budgetary measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16478/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly As Minister for Health my primary concern is the safety of patients. Much of the recent debate about the future role of smaller hospitals has been prompted by the need to deliver safe services and to address potentially unsafe situations wherever they arise.

The Government intends to publish a framework for the development of smaller hospitals, which will set out the way these hospitals provide services to patients and how they work within their regional hospital networks. The framework and its implementation is a priority of the Government.

In developing the framework, the Government is clear that:

there is an important future role for smaller hospitals, in which they will provide services for more patients, not fewer

no acute hospital will close, and

safety issues in all acute hospitals, large or small, must be fully addressed, by providing the right type of services in the right settings.

This framework will demonstrate clearly that the future of smaller hospitals is secure. It will set out what services can and should be delivered safely by these hospitals in the interest of better outcomes for patients. I expect to be in a position to publish the framework shortly.

I also believe that we must concentrate on getting the best possible services for patients from the budgets available to us. This means we need to focus on the throughput of patients, on reducing length of stay to international norms and on having as many procedures as possible carried out as day cases rather than inpatient work. Small hospitals have an important role to play in this context.

[701]The organisation of hospital services nationally, regionally and locally will be informed by the work of the inter-related clinical programmes which aim to improve service quality, effectiveness and patient access and to ensure that patient care is provided in the service setting most appropriate to individuals’ needs and by the work on the framework for the development of smaller hospitals. The planned introduction of hospital groups will also provide further opportunities for inter-site co-operation.

 20.  Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if he will require the Health Service Executive to reverse plans to close St. Brigid’s, Crooksling, County Dublin and to fully utilise it, providing the necessary upgrade and retaining it as a home for older persons and a vital link in the regional healthcare infrastructure, including providing step-down beds for Tallaght Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16256/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch During 2011 the Health Service Executive was considering a proposal to close St. Brigid’s Hospital, Crooksling. However, following court proceedings in relation to another proposed closure it became clear that it was not appropriate to make a decision to close a hospital such as St. Brigid’s without a comprehensive consultation process. In this regard the public consultation process in relation to the proposed closure of St. Brigid’s Hospital at Crooksling will commence shortly. This will involve engaging with patients, relatives, staff, public representatives and any other party who wishes to make a submission. The consultation process will be completed within a period of three months from commencement at which point a final decision will be made regarding the future of the hospital. Meanwhile the HSE is undertaking works at St. Brigid’s to ensure compliance with current HIQA standards. These works are due to be completed by 30th June 2012.

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