Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (563, 564)

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

675 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the filling of the post of consultant physician with a special interest in rheumatology in the Western Health Board area; the number of posts that will be filled; when the physicians will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1389/04]

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Denis Naughten

Question:

678 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will approve the appointment of three rheumatologists to cater for patient needs in the WHB region and a paediatric rheumatologist; the additional rheumatology services that will be provided in 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1394/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 675 and 678 together.

The expansion of existing rheumatology services is initially a matter for the health boards or the Eastern Regional Health Authority. It is based on the relative priority accorded to the service by the agencies and in light of available funding.

Comhairle na nOspidéal is the statutory body responsible for regulating the number and type of appointments of consultant medical staff in hospitals and services are provided under the Health Acts. In 1995 it carried out a review of rheumatology and rehabilitation services. At present it is examining the Irish Society of Rheumatology's report Rheumatology Manpower Report 2002. It examines the current state of rheumatology services and identifies the resources needed to develop the service.

My Department and I shall consider future planning requirements in the context of the Comhairle examination.