Limerick East): I propose to take Questions Nos. 214 and 234 together.
Since taking office as Minister for Health, I have stated publicly on a number of occasions that I have no proposals to downgrade or close any hospitals during my term of office. My policy remains unchanged on this issue.
With regard to seasonal bed closures, the suspension from use of some hospital beds over the summer months has been characteristic of the provision and organisation of hospital services throughout the country for many years. 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. In addition, this period is often used as an opportunity to refurbish wards or carry out minor capital works. All emergency and urgent services, of course, continue to be provided during this period.