Written Answers. - Clare Mental Health Care.

Tony Killeen

Ceist:

70 Mr. Killeen asked the Minister for Health whether he has satisfied himself that proposals by the Mid-Western Health Board to close Our Lady's Hospital, Ennis, County Clare will not reduce the number of beds available for non-psychiatric geriatric care in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8829/96]

,Limerick East): The plans for the provision of alternative mental health care in the Clare area are in line with the national policy document, Planning for the Future, published in 1984 and the Mid-Western Health Board's response to this document.

The Mid-Western Health Board is continuing to implement the plan for alternative care through the provision of services in the community throughout County Clare. The provision of these services has led to a significant reduction in in-patient numbers at Our Lady's Hospital, Ennis, during the past ten years.

This plan for alternative care in the region will continue with the provision of an acute admission unit at Ennis General Hospital which I was pleased to announce during my visit to Clare in February of this year.

The plan also involves the relocation of those patients deemed to be inappropriately placed in Our Lady's Hospital. It is envisaged that two community residential units will be in operation by the end of 1996 providing accommodation for 20 persons with mental handicap. A number of elderly persons currently placed in Our Lady's Hospital will avail of the future development of day, respite and long-stay care services in the area.

The Mid-Western Health Board is satisfied that accommodation for the non-psychiatric elderly in the Clare area is satisfactory. The four non-acute hospitals at Ennistymon, Raheen, Kilrush and Ennis continue to provide rehabilitation, respite, palliative and long-stay care places for the elderly.

The Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990, which was implemented on 1 September 1993, also allows health boards greater flexibility in managing the long-stay needs of the elderly in their area, through the assistance provided by the subvention scheme which accompanied the Act.