Written Answers. - Nursing Home Sector.

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

120 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nursing homes that have been opened under the Government's proposals for public partnerships in this area; the number of such homes that are planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17326/03]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the supply of additional public beds in community nursing units (CNUs) for older people to be provided under public private partnership (PPP).

The 850 additional CNU beds under the pilot PPP programme, which I announced last July, will be provided in 17 new sites in the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) and Southern Health Board (SHB) areas. Nine of these sites are in the ERHA, with three in each health board area, and the remaining eight sites are in the SHB area. The services provided by these units will include respite, convalesence, long-stay and rehabilitation.

There are a number of stages in the PPP process which must be completed before these facilities will be provided. Public sector benchmarks (PSBs) are currently being prepared by the ERHA and the SHB, with the assistance of business advisers and the National Development Finance Agency, which will be submitted for approval to the Department of Finance this summer. They will test whether the PPP proposal offers value for money in comparison with the most efficient form of public procurement. If approved by the Department of Finance, the next stage for the ERHA and the SHB will be to advertise in the Official Journal of the European Community for consortia to design, build, finance and partially operate the facilities.