Written Answers. - Availability of Neurosurgery Equipment.

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

51 Mr. P.J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Health the degree to which the necessary sophisticated equipment for carrying out neuro-surgery is available at Beaumont Hospital; whether patients have been sent overseas for treatment not available due to lack of equipment; if there are other such hospitals which have had to refer patients overseas due to lack of equipment necessary for specific operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [982/94]

I have been advised by Beaumont Hospital that, in general, the hospital has the equipment required to carry out all neurosurgical procedures. However some neurosurgery patients have been referred to England for focused beam radiotherapy treatment, which is not currently available in this country. Six patients were referred in 1993 and four patients have been referred for this treatment in the year to date.

The equipment necessary to provide a service of this type will be provided in St. Luke's and St. Anne's Hospital as part of the redevelopment programme there and once this has been provided it will no longer be necessary to refer patients abroad for this treatment.

The decision to refer a patient abroad for specialised treatment is usually influenced by a number of factors and it would not be feasible to identify cases where the non-availability of particular equipment led to such a decision. I am satisfied, however, that the Irish health service is equipped to provide virtually all types of treatment required by patients and this is evidenced by the small number referred abroad for treatment in any one year.