I propose to take Questions Nos. 1, 38 and 51 together.
The report of the Review Group on Mental Handicap Services — Needs and Abilities details the number of day and residential places required to meet the needs of the mental handicap population. The Government have accepted the recommendations of that report and are committed to their implementation.
The statistical information provided to my Department for 31 December 1990 indicates that the level of mental handicap services has increased by 17 per cent since the beginning of 1986. There are now over 11,500 people receiving services on a residential or day basis compared to 9,800 people on 31 December 1985.
In 1990 the Government provided a special allocation of £2 million for the development of mental handicap services. This enabled 149 residential places, 21 respite places catering for 200 people, 442 day places and 25 staff for other supports to be provided. Of this 91 residential and 184 day places were provided in the Eastern Health Board area. This year a further £1 million was provided to build on those developments. I have again ensured that the bulk of this money will benefit people in the Eastern Health Board region. The commissioning of places in Aras Attracta in County Mayo will free up 12 places in centres in the Eastern Health Board area. Twenty places will be commissioned in Cheeverstown House. In addition a sum of £230,000 has been provided for extra respite care in the eastern region.
I have already referred to the Government's commitment to the development of the mental handicap services. I have asked each health board to prepare a seven year plan for the development of mental handicap services. These plans will quantify the extent of unmet needs in each health board area. The provision of sufficient day care residential places for people with mental handicap is one of the priorities to be addressed in these plans.