Written Answers. - Appointment of Consultant Rheumatologist.

Jim Higgins

Question:

165 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Health the reason that a consultant rheumatologist has not been appointed at the new General Hospital, Castlebar, County Mayo, to cater for the 14,000 people from the county who suffer from the disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56/94]

Enda Kenny

Question:

236 Mr. E. Kenny asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, he has for the appointment of a consultant rheumatologist at Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1207/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 236 together.

Under my Department's current personnel policy, each agency has responsibility for identifying manpower requirements. Proposals for the filling of new and replacement permanent posts are reviewed on a regular basis by my Department. This review is undertaken having regard to service and personnel criteria in the context of the priority afforded to each post by the agency concerned and with particular regard to the availability of financial resources.

The Western Health Board has not sought approval for the creation of a post of consultant rheumatologist on its most recent manpower submission to my Department.

I understand the Western Health Board has no proposals at this stage to appoint a consultant rheumatologist as a regional rheumatology and rehabilitation service is provided by the consultant rheumatologist based at Merlin Park Regional Hospital. I have, however, recently asked the board to examine the feasibility of establishing rheumatology clinics at Mayo General Hospital. The board has also indicated that it will be making an input to the committee established by Comhairle na nOspidéal to examine the current level of consultant rheumatology and rehabilitation services throughout the country.