Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (571, 572, 573)

Phil Hogan

Question:

683 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will appoint a consultant neurologist to Waterford Regional Hospital in view of a recommendation in the recent Comhairle na nOspidéal report on neurology services here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1438/04]

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Brian O'Shea

Question:

685 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children his proposals in regard to the provision of neurological services for Waterford Regional Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1441/04]

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Brendan Howlin

Question:

695 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the current ratio is one consultant neurologist per 280,000 of population in the health service; that the recommendation of the Irish Consultant Neurologists Association is one consultant neurologist per 100,000 of population; that catering for a population of 450,000 people in the South Eastern Health Board area, Waterford Regional Hospital would require the services of 4.5 consultant neurologists according to the ICNA recommendation; that Waterford Regional Hospital has no consultant neurologist on staff even though it has had a state of the art MRI scanner for the past two years; his plans to address the serious deficit in services for people residing in the SEHB area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1470/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 683, 685 and 695 together.

Recently Comhairle na nOspidéal published its report of the committee to review neurology and neurophysiology services. I am happy to endorse its recommendations for a significant enhancement of services, including increases in consultant manpower. The report also recognises that there are aspects of a number of other specialties and services such as rehabilitation medicine, geriatric medicine and old age psychiatry that are related to an overlap with neurology services. Comhairle has recommended that a national multidisciplinary review of rehabilitation services be undertaken to further inform the policy framework on the development of neurology services.

Consistent with this recommendation, and in line with commitments in the national health strategy, a national action plan for rehabilitation services is currently being prepared by my Department. It will set out a programme to meet existing shortfalls in services and to integrate specialised facilities with locally based follow-up services. The rehabilitation action plan, together with the Comhairle report and the work undertaken by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland through its own publications, will offer a comprehensive policy framework for the future development of neurology and neurophysiology services here.

My Department will continue to work closely with the alliance and with the Irish Consultant Neurologists Association on the future development of services. The implementation of the Comhairle recommendations will be progressed having regard to the evolving policy framework in the area, competing funding priorities and the report of the national task force on medical staffing.