Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (692, 694, 737)

Seán Kenny

Question:

692. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Health the position regarding staffing levels in the epilepsy unit at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; when the unit will open; the way the unit will operate; the level of staffing in the unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10025/13]

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Terence Flanagan

Question:

694. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the reason the epilepsy unit in Beaumont Hospital will only open soon on a phased basis; the reason it is not fully staffed; the steps he will take to ensure that the unit opens as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10040/13]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

737. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health when he expects the new epilepsy monitoring unit at Cork University Hospital to be opened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10289/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 692, 694 and 737 together.

Cork and Beaumont are two of six regional centres which have been identified by the HSE's Clinical Care Programme for Epilepsy for the provision of specialist epilepsy services. Developments so far under the Programme include the opening of Rapid Access Clinics at four of these centres, including Beaumont, St James’s, Galway and Limerick. The Rapid Access clinics are led by Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs). Under the Programme, 10.5 (WTE) Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) have been recruited to lead these clinics so that a total of 12 ANPs are now in place across the four centres, delivering services on site and on an outreach basis.

The two Epilepsy Monitoring Units (EMUs) planned for Cork and Beaumont under the Programme will increase pre-surgical evaluation capacity. Monitoring is required for those patients with the worst effects of epilepsy, and patients at these units will require 24/7 care.

The staffing requirements to enable the units to be safely opened have been identified. I am advised that the staffing required for the unit at Beaumont includes five staff nurses, one consultant neurophysiologist and three technicians. I am advised by the HSE that, having secured recruitment approval from the National Control Group, Beaumont is progressing the recruitment of the posts necessary to support the service development.

With regard to Cork, the HSE has advised that it is the intention of the Cork University Hospital management to open the EMU in Quarter 3 of this year and this will be included in the HSE South’s 2013 Regional Service Plan.