Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (580, 581)

Michael Ring

Question:

692 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of the hospice unit attached to the Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar, County Mayo; its patient numbers for the past three years; when it will reopen; the progress that has been made to date in the recruitment of suitable medical officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1456/04]

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Michael Ring

Question:

693 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will provide a copy of the advertisement for the recruitment of medical officers for the Mayo and Roscommon hospice unit attached to the Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar, County Mayo; if he will provide details of the full remuneration package on offer for the position; and if he will confirm if the salary is the reason it is proving difficult to recruit suitable personnel. [1457/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 692 and 693 together.

Responsibility for the provision of health services in County Mayo rests with the Western Health Board. It has advised my Department that the hospice unit was officially opened on 23 January 1999. The cost of refurbishing it amounted to €222,204.16 and it consists of two inpatient beds. Its occupancy rates when it was open were in the region of 95%. Unfortunately, the inpatient beds have not been available for some time due to the absence of a medical officer.

The board has had difficulty in filling the post of medical director to service the hospice unit. It was advertised in the national newspapers on three previous occasions. The advertisements contained details of the remuneration package available. It is in line with national pay rates for the grade. The board is in the process of readvertising the post in conjunction with a post of general practitioner for the Foxford-Straide area. It hopes that the new advertisement will generate a positive response and the post will be filled.