Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Bernard Allen

Question:

507 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will have investigations made into a situation, as reported in a paper (details supplied) on 4 August 2000, that a newborn baby had to be rushed to Birmingham, England, for emergency surgery due to the unavailability of a surgeon at a hospital (details supplied); and the plans he has to deal with such a dangerous situation. [19254/00]

As the Deputy may be aware the provision of health and social services in the eastern region is now a matter for the Eastern Regional Health Authority. I have therefore asked the regional chief executive of the authority to examine the case referred to by the Deputy and forward a full report to me.

I want to assure the Deputy that I am committed to ensuring that Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children is a position to respond to the need for their cardiology/cardiac surgery services. In this regard the Deputy may wish to note that my Department has sanctioned a major theatre development at the hospital. This theatre development at the hospital, when completed, will provide five new operating theatres complete with ancillary accommodation, a day surgery area and a central sterile supplies department. The existing theatre facilities will also be upgraded to provide a further two theatre suites. When these theatres are fully commissioned it is expected the hospital will be in a position to perform an additional 100 paediatric cardiac procedures per annum, which is an increase of 40% on its existing capacity. This development is expected to cost in the region of £20 million. In addition my Department has approved the appointment of an additional consultant cardiothoracic surgeon who I understand commenced duty at the hospital in August of this year.

I am confident that the implementation of the above measures will enable Our Lady's Hospital to provide enhanced cardiac surgery services for all children within the country.