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Written Answers - Health Services

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 623.  Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  the details of the funding model for the development of primary care centres around the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16777/12]

 624.  Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  his policy position on the use of private funding for the development of primary care centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16778/12]

 625.  Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if he has any concerns that the pillar banks are frustrating Ireland’s primary care strategy; if he has been made aware of any instances where this is happening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16779/12]

 627.  Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if he has had any discussions with the Department of Finance in relation to the pillar banks refusing funding for the development of primary care centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16781/12]

 628.  Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if he has discussed or has any plans to discuss with the Department of Finance the fact that Bank of Ireland recently removed funding for the development of the Wicklow primary care centre in Greystones only weeks before it was due to go to construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16782/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 623 to 625, inclusive, and 627 and 628 together.

The development of primary care is central to this Government’s objective to deliver a high quality, integrated and cost effective health system. The Programme for Government states that primary care will be an immediate priority area. The development of primary care centres, through a combination of public and private investment, will facilitate the delivery of multi-disciplinary primary care and represents a tangible re-focussing of the health service to deliver care in the most appropriate and lowest cost setting.

There are always more construction projects than can be funded from the Exchequer’s capital health care allocation. This primary care centre model offers a good fit for private sector finance. In line with the Primary Care Strategy the HSE developed a generic model primary care centre design brief for a facility which would accommodate one, two and three Primary Care Teams and associated GPs. The HSE advertised nationally in December 2007 and again in July 2008, seeking expressions of interest from parties who would provide primary care centres.

It was the HSE’s intention that the majority of primary care centres would be provided by the private sector through the leasing mechanism. Primary care centres in deprived urban areas, small rural towns and isolated areas would continue to be funded from the Exchequer. The Health Service Executive’s draft Capital Plan 2012-2016 is currently under consideration by my Department. It includes some provision for Exchequer funded primary care, but further work is required to ensure that the provisions in the plan for a mix of private and Exchequer funded PCCs are in line with the Programme for Government commitments.

[963]I am aware that there are reports of financing difficulties being experienced by developers of primary care centres. Although the Executive enters into agreements for lease with developers, it is not involved in the developers’ finance negotiations.

While there are many reasons why financial institutions decide to refuse finance, neither my Department nor the Executive is party to these private negotiations. Banks operate in an arms’ length capacity in relation to operational issues. It is a matter for the respective individual boards and management to determine and implement operational policy in their organisations. This includes policy on credit applications. If a borrower believes that a bank has unfairly refused a credit application, the borrower has the right to appeal through the bank’s internal loan appeals process.

I have not had discussions with the Department of Finance in relation to these matters.

The primary care centre in question referred to by the Deputy is located in Wicklow town where the Health Service Executive proposes to deliver a primary care centre through a leasing arrangement with the private sector. I acknowledge the work that all parties, including GPs, have contributed to the progress on this centre to date. The Executive has signed an agreement with a developer to lease part of this development once it is completed. It has agreed to allow the developer a three month extension to the agreement to lease, which was due to expire shortly. Extensions of this nature are granted only where progress and commitment have been demonstrated. I would urge the parties to continue with their negotiations.


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