Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Ceisteanna (262)

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

338 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if, due to the lengthy delay in the publication of two reports dealing with Galway Hospice, one by the hospice itself, and the other by the Western Health Board, he will facilitate the intervention of an independent professional authority to make the residential beds in the hospice available to the public. [3668/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

As the Deputy will be aware, the provision of health services, including hospices services, in the Galway area is a matter for the Western Health Board in the first instance. The Galway Hospice Foundation, has for the past number of years, provided a valuable service to cancer patients and their families in the west. I am aware that there are difficulties surrounding the operation of the in-patient unit at the Galway Hospice and that no new patients are being admitted at present. However, home care and day care services are continuing to be provided to approximately 100 patients by the foundation with those patients who require consultant-led specialist in-patient care being admitted to University College Hospital, Galway. The Western Health Board has informed my Department that an independent expert group was established by the Galway Hospice Foundation to review procedures at the hospice and that it is expected that the report of the expert group will be available in the near future. In tandem with this review, the board is also conducting an internal review in relation to allegations made against one of its consultants and this review is ongoing.

The board has assured my Department that it is anxious that both reviews be completed as quickly as possible and that it will continue to work in partnership with the board of the Galway Hospice Foundation to deliver quality palliative care services to the people of the west. In the circumstances, I do not consider that it would be appropriate to intervene at this stage, but I can assure the Deputy that my Department will continue to monitor the situation actively.