Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Children's Hospital.

Ivor Callely

Ceist:

5 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health the number of years that have passed since it was recommended that the Children's Hospital should be rebuilt on the Mater Hospital campus; the time schedule for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9471/95]

(Limerick East): It was agreed in principle in 1989 that the Children's Hospital Temple Street be relocated on the campus of the Mater Hospital. It has also been accepted that future developments at the Mater Hospital would take into account the relocation of the children's hospital. Because of the planning and financial implications involved for the two hospitals, it is not possible to say, at this time, when the move will take place.

Pending relocation to the Mater Hospital site, a programme of improvements is ongoing at the Children's Hospital, Temple Street. In the interim, it is intended that the hospital will be provided with adequate facilities to enable it perform its important functions in the delivery of paediatric hospital care.

Does the Minister recognise that because the patients are children one is dealing with more than one person, because when a child goes to hospital it is usually accompanied by at least one parent, if not both, and this has the effect of multiplying the numbers passing through the hospital? In 1994 the hospital had a throughput of 120,000 patients which is probably greater than some of the other high tech hospitals in the Dublin area. The casualty department dealt with 50,000 children and their parents in a totally inadequate accident and emergency department.

I want to help the Deputy to elicit information but it is preferable to proceed by way of question rather than supplying information.

Perhaps the Minister could answer those questions and I might then have an opportunity to ask a further supplementary question.

(Limerick East): Temple Street Hospital has a very good record of health care particularly in respect of children. The Sisters of Charity and all the staff there are to be complimented. It does need investment but plans which were put in place a long time ago to relocate it on the same campus as the Mater have not moved ahead. In one way the grand plan has inhibited smaller plans which might remedy the problems. It is still the intention to put it on the same campus as the Mater. The cost is huge and I cannot indicate when progress will be made. In the meantime investment will have to be made in Temple Street Hospital.

I thank the Minister and would like also to put on record my appreciation of the medical and administrative staff working in the hospital in a very difficult environment. Will the Minister confirm today that he will visit the hospital?

A vacant site is being held for this development on the Mater campus. When Tallaght and other such developments which were mooted after the 1988-89 principle of this hospital are going ahead, one feels there is a certain lack of priority given to this very much needed development. I urge the Minister, therefore, to prioritise this development and communicate with me in due course on the likely timescale for the development.

(Limerick East): There is a huge throughput in the outpatient department of the hospital. The most recent figure I have is 43,160 in 1994. Deputies Callely and Jim Mitchell have brought to my attention what the situation is and the requirements.

There were also 50,000 patients dealt with by the casualty department.

(Limerick East): The Deputy is probably aware that I met the chairman and the board recently and had discussions with them on the matter, but I have no plans at the moment to visit the hospital. I like visiting hospitals but that does not have much practical effect because I am not a medical person or a consultant engineer or an architect. There is no great merit in my visiting places. If I work through the files there is more chance of getting something done.