Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Ivor Callely


135 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hospital beds available in the Dublin area; the number of hospitals and beds that have ceased to operate over the past ten years; the number of beds in the system in 1999; the population it serves; the comparable figures for each of the years 1979 and 1989; the consideration, if any, given to the development of a new hospital on the northside of Dublin or north County Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1660/99]

The total number of acute beds in public hospitals in the Eastern Health Board area in January 1999 is 4,855. This is comprised of 4,548 in-patient beds and 307 day beds. This figure compares with 4,758 beds in 1989, comprised of 4,593 in-patient beds and 165 day beds. In 1979 there was a total of 6,500 acute beds in the Eastern Health Board area. According to the latest census figures (1996) the total population in the Eastern Health Board region is 1.3 million. This compares with a population total of 1.17 million in 1979 (census figure) and an estimated 1.23 million in 1989.

Four acute general hospitals have closed and relocated since 1989. The services of the Meath, Adelaide and National Children's Hospitals transferred to Tallaght in 1998, while St. Anne's Hospital transferred to St. Luke's Hospital at the end of 1997. Tallaght Hospital is in the process of building 75 private/semi-private beds which is an additional facility to the hospital and is being developed and financed by the hospital itself.
I recently announced that the level of capital investment in the health services for the next three years has been decided. Exchequer capital spending on the health service infrastructure will total £525 million over the next three years and include provision for a number of major hospital developments in the North Dublin region. In this context, it is worth mentioning two major developments which are under way in North Dublin.
First, the Deputy will be aware that in November 1997 I gave the go ahead for a further major capital development at the Mater Hospital. A design team has been appointed and it is currently involved in the preparation of a development control plan for the entire site, including the relocation of The Children's Hospital, Temple St. For planning and construction reasons, it will probably be necessary to undertake this major project in two phases. Every effort will be made to implement the second phase immediately following the completion of the first phase.
In January 1998 I gave the go ahead to the capital development programme for James Connolly Memorial Hospital, which provides for the inclusion of new acute wards and the refurbishment of existing wards, new intensive care and coronary care units, a new accident and emergency department and a new department of physical medicine. Detailed accommodation briefs have been finalised for this development and are currently under consideration by my Department. The development will be on a phased basis with phase I scheduled for completion in 2001.
While there are no plans for the development of a new hospital on the northside of Dublin or in the north County Dublin area in the immediate future, my Department is keeping the situation in relation to acute hospital services under review with regard to changes in demographics within the eastern region.