Written Answers. - St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane.

63.

asked the Minister for Health whether his Department have prepared plans for the development of services, including a therapy section, for the psychiatric and serverely mentally handicapped patients at St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane; whether it is intended to appoint a resident medical superintendent to this hospital in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The development of services for patients at St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane, is a matter in the first instance for the Eastern Health Board which has statutory responsibility for the provision of psychiatric and mental handicap services in its functional area. As part of its psychiatric and mental handicap service, the Eastern Health Board currently provides therapy facilities both within St. Ita's Hospital and in the community setting.

A workshop with provision for 150 places has been provided by the health board at Maryfield in Swords and a number of persons with mental handicap from St. Ita's attend there daily. It is the board's intention to reduce the number of patients at St. Ita's Hospital by the provision of a comprehensive range of facilities in the community. The health board have recently completed a review of mental handicap services in its area and has drawn up a report outlining its plans for the future organisation of these services. This report is at present being considered in my Department.

The board is currently preparing its plans for the development of psychiatric services in the area served by St. Ita's Hospital. The need for the appointment of a resident medical superindentent to the hospital will be considered by the health board in the context of these plans.