Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (142, 143, 144)

Dan Boyle


142 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if he intends to allow for regional offices of the national poisons centre to be established. [4505/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

The National Poisons Information Centre, which is based at Beaumont Hospital, provides a national telephone information service, primarily to health care professionals. It provides information on the toxicity, features and management of poisoning from a wide range of agents including pharmaceuticals, household products, cosmetics, industrial chemicals, pesticides and plants.

The Eastern Regional Health Authority is responsible for the funding of services at Beaumont Hospital. My Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to have the matter raised by the Deputy examined in consultation with Beaumont Hospital and to reply to him directly.

Michael Ring


143 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for a prostate operation in Galway. [4384/04]

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The provision of services to residents of County Mayo is the responsibility of the Western Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the position in relation to this case and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Pat Breen


144 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if the 24 hour accident and emergency services at Ennis General Hospital will be maintained despite the recommendations of the Hanly report; and if funding will be allocated to upgrade and refurnish accident and emergency services at Ennis General Hospital in view of the fact that a design team has now been put in place to prepare the outline development control plan. [4385/04]

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The report of the national task force on medical staffing, the Hanly report, proposes that Ennis General Hospital should form part of an integrated network, alongside Limerick Regional Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Nenagh, and St. John's Hospital, Limerick to meet the acute hospital needs of the mid-west region. The report recommends that Ennis General Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Nenagh, and St. John's Hospital, Limerick should be local hospitals within the network.

The Hanly report recommends that local hospitals should provide a wide range of services as close as possible to the local community, meeting most of the local population's need for acute hospital care. This would include a greatly expanded proportion of elective day surgery and elective medical procedures, appropriate diagnostic and treatment facilities and improved access for general practitioners to services and diagnostic facilities.

I will shortly announce details of a local implementation group, which will develop a detailed action plan for the implementation of the Hanly report's recommendations in the mid-western region. The group will examine how best to provide accident and emergency services in each local hospital in the context of the Hanly proposals. The report envisages that a very high proportion of cases presenting to accident and emergency units would continue to be treated in local hospitals such as Ennis. The exact opening hours of each unit would be influenced by the volume of cases presenting at different times over the 24 hour period.

The next step in the process of developing the physical infrastructure at Ennis General Hospital will be the preparation of an outline development control plan and I have recently approved the appointment of the design team to prepare this. The plan will be prepared having regard to the development brief prepared by the project team which sets out the broad scope of the proposed future development at Ennis General Hospital and identified the priority areas for development.