Limerick East): I am aware of the problems experienced in the accident and emergency department at Cork University Hospital. For this reason I welcomed the Southern Health Board's decision in May 1995 to establish a working group to review the organisation and delivery of accident and emergency services in Cork. The group met on a number of occasions under the chairmanship of Mr. Stephen Cusack, accident and emergency consultant at Cork University Hospital. The group completed its report in March 1996 and I understand that its recommendations have been endorsed by the Southern Health Board, subject to a small number of modifications. A copy of the report was forwarded for consideration within my Department at the end of last year.
Preliminary discussions have already taken place between officials of my Department and the Southern Health Board, to clarify the resource implications, priorities and time scales involved. These issues will be discussed further with the board in the context of its 1997 budget and service plan. These meetings will be taking place over the coming weeks. I understand that the board intends to make provision for an initial investment in the accident and emergency department, to meet priority equipping needs.