Written Answers. - Epidural Services.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

128 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the totally inadequate epidural service being provided in Tralee General Hospital; the proposals, if any, there are to improve this service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1946/99]

The provision of epidural services at Tralee General Hospital is the statutory responsibility of the Southern Health Board. The development of this service and obstetric services generally has been identified as a priority by the management of the hospital. In this regard, I have provided an additional £1.487 million in 1999 to meet the cost of service developments, including improved midwifery staffing levels at Tralee General Hospital.

I understand from the Southern Health Board that in order to improve the availability of epidural services in Tralee General Hospital there are a number of issues surrounding the arrangements for the enhancement of the service which need to be clarified with the relevant clinical staff in the first instance. I have been advised by the Southern Health Board there are ongoing discussions between hospital management, the consultant anaesthetists and the consultant obstetrician/ gynaecologists, regarding the further development of this service. I look forward to the conclusion of these discussions and will consider any proposal that the Southern Health Board may make following the conclusion of local discussions.