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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 16 Dec 1970

Vol. 250 No. 8

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dialysis Machines.


asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied that there is a sufficient number of kidney dialysis machines available in Ireland; and, if not, if he has any remedial action in mind.

The facilities available are as follows:—Jervis St. Hospital: 13 machines and two machines being used by patients getting dialysis at home. St. Finbarr's Hospital (Cork): three machines. Galway Regional Hospital: two machines in use and a third recently approved.

This service is a developing one. We have approved arrangements for substantial expansion in the last few years, and I am considering sympathetically further proposals for development, related particularly to dialysis at home instead of in hospital.

Is the Minister aware that there is, in fact, a serious shortage of these machines? While nobody wants to be unduly alarmist about it, this shortage has had very grave implications for individual patients. Would he consider, in view of the humanitarian aspect involved, setting aside further money urgently to provide a sufficiency of these machines?

There are a number of difficulties in connection with developing these machines. We are doing the best we can. One of the difficulties is the very grave danger of infective hepatitis arising from the use of the machines. This is a problem to be found elsewhere. We are doing our best to improve the position.

Has the Minister any details of the cost of a machine?

I am afraid I have not got the cost. The cost of providing a dialysis service for a patient in hospital is estimated at £3,000 and the home cost, which is the question asked by the Deputy the other day, is recognised as being one-third.

The Minister will agree that it would be worthwhile investing in machines and thereby saving hospitalisation costs?

It looks as if that would be the case.