Thursday, 21 November 2019

Questions (139)

Joan Burton

Question:

139. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health if he has examined a report by a person (detail supplied) that warned that if overcrowding continues it is only a matter of time before more infectious outbreaks occur; his plans to address the issues raised in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48358/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Minister and his Department are aware of the concerns that have been raised by Prof Malone, Master of the Rotunda Hospital. The Minister met with Prof Malone and other representatives from the Rotunda Hospital, the RCSI Hospital Group, as well as the HSE in July 2019 to discuss potential interim works at the hospital.

The Minister asked that further consideration be given to the scope of the works necessary to address the infrastructural challenges, having regard to the plan to relocate the Rotunda to the Connolly Hospital campus. It was agreed that further engagement on a proposal was required across the HSE, and with the Rotunda. A revised and evaluated proposal is awaited from the HSE.

While the Minister recognises that some infrastructural development will be necessary at the Rotunda Hospital in the interim period, as Deputies will be aware, in line with Government policy to co-locate maternity services with acute adult services, the Rotunda Hospital will be relocated to Connolly Hospital. Co-location is considered international best practice and will best facilitate the provision of an appropriate environment within all our maternity hospitals and units.

Project Ireland 2040 provides €10.9 billion for health capital developments across the country. The relocation of the Rotunda Hospital to the Connolly campus is one of the key infrastructure projects which will be funded under Project Ireland 2040. In addition, the recently published HSE Capital Plan 2019 provides that the project brief for the redevelopment of the Rotunda will be progressed.

In a letter from mid-May 2019 relating to the infrastructural challenges at the Rotunda Hospital, Prof. Malone notified the Minister of an infectious outbreak involving ESBL-producing Klebsiella (a type of bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics) and the risk to infants at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Upon being notified of this outbreak, the Department of Health’s immediate priority was for the welfare of the infants affected by the outbreak and the safe care of all infants at the Rotunda NICU. Consequently, the Department immediately sought assurances from the Hospital that safe and appropriate care was being provided to infants cared for at the NICU. In addition, the Department sought information regarding the immediate and medium-term actions being taken by the Hospital and Hospital Group to address the outbreak.

The hospital assured the Department that international best practice for managing infectious outbreaks has been followed by the hospital. The hospital also stated that an extensive action plan including both clinical and operational measures has been implemented to address the outbreak situation.

Antimicrobial resistance and the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections continue to be a significant priority for the Government of Ireland. Indeed, significant progress has already been made in implementing Ireland's National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2017-2020 (known as iNAP) and this work continues.