Written Answers. - Palliative Care Services.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

610 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans, if any, he has to provide an adequate number of hospice beds in the Waterford constituency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20201/00]

As the Deputy is aware, the provision of palliative care services in Waterford is a matter for the South Eastern Health Board. I have had inquires made of the board and have been advised that for many years, palliative care services in the region have been provided by four hospice home care teams.

Since 1998, a regional consultant oncologist has been based at Waterford Regional Hospital and a palliative care consultant has recently been appointed to St. Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny. I understand that there are strong links between the four hospice home care teams and the consultant staff. The board intends to develop palliative care beds in acute and district hospitals as well as palliative day care centres. Beds in district hospitals will be available also although not exclusively assigned for palliative care purposes.

There is a commitment in the programme for Government to develop a national hospice plan and my predecessor, Deputy Cowen, established the national advisory committee on palliative care services in September 1999. The committee is currently preparing a comprehensive national policy for the strategic planning and development of palliative care services. I expect to be presented with the report at the end of the year.