Written Answers. - Hospital Wards Closure.

Ivor Callely

Ceist:

63 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health his views on the closure of hospital wards in view of insufficient funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8818/96]

,Limerick East): All health boards and voluntary hospitals were notified in their letter of determination of their 1996 approved allocation. A requirement of the letter of determination is the preparation, by the agency concerned, of a service plan which ensures that activity levels are maintained at approved 1995 levels and within allocation. I am satisfied that the level of funding available to health agencies in the current year will ensure that these requirements can be met.

The Deputy will be aware that temporary bed closures are a routine feature of the provision and organisation of hospital services throughout the country. They arise for a variety of reasons, including the need to carry out essential maintenance and repair works. Such closures are usually planned to coincide with a period when staff are on annual leave, and when the level of activity has traditionally declined. All emergency and urgent services, of course, continue to be provided during such periods.