Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Ceisteanna (291)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

366 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has carried out any recent assessment of the adequacy of neurology services in Ireland; if he will indicate whether these studies have identified deficiencies which need to be filled; and if he will indicate what plans he is putting in place to fill the gaps. [3914/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

At my request, Comhairle na nOspidéal established a committee to examine existing arrangements for the provision of consultant level neurology and neurophysiology services nationally and to make recommendations on the future organisation and development of those services. Comhairle na nOspidéal has now published its report and, having considered it, I am happy to endorse its recommendations for a significant enhancement of neurology and neurophysiology services, including increases in consultant manpower.

The report also recognises that there are aspects of a number of other specialties and services, such as rehabilitation medicine, geriatric medicine and old age psychiatry, which are related to and overlap with neurology services. Comhairle na nOspidéal has recommended that a national multidisciplinary review of rehabilitation services be undertaken to further inform the policy framework on the development of neurology services. Consistent with this recommendation and in line with commitments in the national health strategy, a national action plan for rehabilitation services is being prepared by my Department. The action plan will set out a programme to meet existing shortfalls in services and to integrate specialised facilities with locally based follow-up services. The rehabilitation action plan, together with the Comhairle na nOspidéal report and the work undertaken by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland through its own publications, will offer a comprehensive policy framework for the future development of neurology and neurophysiology services in this country.

My Department will continue to work closely with the alliance and with the Irish Consultant Neurologists' Association on the future development of services. The implementation of the Comhairle na nOspidéal recommendations will be progressed having regard to the evolving policy framework in this area, competing funding priorities and the report of the national task force on medical staffing.