Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.

Enda Kenny

Question:

322 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are approximately 14,500 people with arthritis in County Mayo who have to travel to Merlin Park Hospital, Galway, for treatment; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 75 patients call to Galway on a weekly basis and have to wait several hours to be seen, as there is only one rheumatologist to attend them; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that there are currently 700 patients on the waiting list to be seen by the rheumatologist in Merlin Park; if it is intended to appoint further rheumatologists to the Western Health Bord; if an appointment will be made for Mayo General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7514/01]

The provision of rheumatology services in County Mayo is the statutory responsibility of the Western Health Board.

I understand from the board that it is currently in the process of drawing up a strategic plan for the development of rheumatology services in their region over the next five-year period.

The board sought the views of Comhairle na nOspidéal on the organisation and development of rheumatology services in the region in the context of their policy document on rheumatology services. The board has received comments from Comhairle na nOspidéal and the board's draft strategy is now being amended to take account of them.

When the draft strategy is finalised, it will be considered by the board's acute services standing committee, following which it will be presented to the board for formal adoption.