Written Answers. - Palliative Care Services.

Bernard Allen

Question:

498 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the public hospitals in which palliative medicine is available. [19229/00]

Bernard Allen

Question:

500 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of palliative medicine consultants operating in the public health services; and the location of each consultant. [19231/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 498 and 500 together.

There are currently seven consultants in palliative medicine in the State with three based in the Eastern Regional Health Authority and one each in the Mid Western Health Board, South Eastern Health Board, Southern Health Board and Western Health Board areas. There are four specialist palliative care inpatient units led by consultants in palliative medicine based in Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin, St. Francis Hospice, Raheny, Dublin, Milford Care Centre, Limerick and Marymount Hospice, Cork. Each of these agencies has a specialist palliative day care centre, a specialist palliative care team in the community and provides a hospital palliative care service. In the South Eastern Health Board the consultant in palliative medicine is based in St. Lukes Hospital, Kilkenny. In the Western Health Board the consultant in palliative medicine is based in University Hospital Galway. The above refers to specialist palliative care services. Palliative care is, of course, provided to individual patients with terminal illnesses at hospitals throughout the country.

There are a further six consultant posts in the process of being filled with two in the Eastern Regional Health Authority and one each in the Southern Health Board, North Western Health Board, North Eastern Health Board and Midland Health Board. When this process is complete there will be a specialist led service in each health board area.

Bernard Allen

Question:

499 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has received complaints that patients who need a consultant in palliative medicine are often too ill to travel long distances to see one. [19230/00]

I am not aware of any specific complaints of the kind mentioned by the Deputy. There are seven consultants in palliative medicine providing specialist services and a further six consultant posts are currently being filled. This will result in each health board having a consultant in place and will, thus facilitate more localised access to specialist services. In 2000 extra funding of £3.28 million was provided by my Department for the development of palliative care services.

A national advisory committee on palliative care which was established by my predecessor Minister Cowen is due to report by the end of 2000. The committee has been asked to make recommendations on the best manner in which palliative care services might develop in a structured and co-ordinated fashion. The committee includes members who are experienced and actively involved in the palliative care area, including a number of consultants in palliative medicine. The committee is considering the development of palliative care services at both national and regional levels having regard to the best interests of patients and their families.
It is the Department's intention that further developments in the palliative care service area will follow from the report of the national advisory committee.
Question No. 500 taken with Question No. 498.