Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (659, 660)

Emmet Stagg


777 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children when the new community care unit at Maynooth, County Kildare, will operate at its full complement of 45 beds; the reason for the reduction in the original full complement of 50 beds to 45 beds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2219/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for the provision of health services in County Kildare rests with the South Western Area Health Board acting under the aegis of the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has been informed by the authority that the Maynooth community unit has a bed complement of 44 beds, of which 35 are occupied at present. The board has indicated that the remaining beds will be occupied in April 2004. The reduction in bed complement from 50 beds to 44 beds was due to lack of space, with some bedrooms being converted for use as a living room and storage space.

Bernard J. Durkan


778 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which he expects the hospital services to be able to meet demands in respect of heart operations and hip replacements in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2220/04]

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There has been a significant increase in the consultant manpower needed to deliver cardiac surgery and orthopaedic services in the past ten years. Based on figures provided by Comhairle na nOspideal the number of cardiothoracic surgeons increased from six to 11 between 1993 and 2003 and the number of orthopaedic surgeons increased from 52 to 76 in the same period.

Plans and developments are in place which will increase the capacity for cardiac surgery. For example, the theatre and critical care complex, completed as part of the phase two development at University College Hospital, Galway, includes provision for cardiac surgery facilities. Approval has also been given to the Southern Health Board to proceed with the planning and construction of a new €82 million cardiac and renal dialysis building at Cork University Hospital.

With regard to orthopaedic services, the North Eastern Health Board has re-organised its orthopaedic services in moving trauma services to Drogheda and creating additional capacity for elective services in Navan. A new orthopaedic service will be provided at Mayo General Hospital. This new service will serve the people of the western region and increase orthopaedic capacity for the region. Building and equipping the new facility has been completed.

As the single most limiting factor for admission to hospital is bed availability, increasing the bed capacity of the acute hospital system is of particular priority for my Department. The extent of the shortfall in acute capacity has been identified by the report, Acute Hospital Bed Capacity — A National Review, as a requirement of an additional 3,000 acute beds in acute hospital by 2001. The first phase of this process commenced in January 2002 when capital and revenue funding was provided for an additional 709 beds. This represents an increase of 6% on existing capacity. Some 568 of these beds have been commissioned to date.