Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (82, 83, 84, 85)

John Gormley

Question:

197 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in providing more beds in line with the Government's health strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2025/04]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

771 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which he proposes to provide for patients requiring long stay accommodation with a view to maximising the availability of acute hospital beds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2166/04]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

772 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which he proposes to provide adequate medical and surgical beds to meet requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2167/04]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

782 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the precise requirement as determined by experts in respect of acute hospital beds and long stay beds; if he intends to take initiatives to ensure adequacy in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2224/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197, 771, 772 and 782 together.

On foot of the report, Acute Hospital Bed Capacity — A National Review, the Government decided, in the context of the health strategy, Quality and Fairness: A Health System for You, to provide an additional 3,000 beds in acute hospitals by 2011. Commissioning of the first phase of this development, an additional 709 acute hospital beds for public patients began in 2002. Some 568 of these beds have now been commissioned and funding has been provided to commission the remainder.

The national health strategy asserts the Department of Health and Children's commitment to using public private partnership's as a means of accelerating the provision of health infrastructure in accordance with general Government policy. PPP pilots are currently being piloted in the health sector in the area of community nursing units, CNUs, for older people. It is anticipated that 17 new CNUs will be created when the initial pilot programme is complete, providing up to a maximum of 850 new beds for older people. The services offered in these units will include: assessment/rehabilitation, respite, extended care and convalescence. Furthermore, day centres for the elderly will be combined with the CNUs in each site to help promote the dignity and independence of older people living in the community.

The Department is also involved with the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards in an ongoing process of designing and developing CNUs for older people through the traditional procurement method rather than through the PPP process. A number of such projects are at an advanced stage of planning and consist in the main of 50-bed community nursing units with associated day care facilities. In some instances these new units will replace existing unsuitable accommodation while in other cases these developments will increase the number of public long-stay beds available for older people. These submissions are being considered in consultation with the Department of Finance.