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.