Dáil Éireann - Volume 433 - 08 July, 1993

Written Answers. - Portrane (Dublin) Hospital.

[1891] 64. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Health the action, if any, he proposes to take on the report of the Committee established by the Eastern Health Board on St. Ita's, Portrane, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

129. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if he will make extra funding available to the Eastern Health Board for improving facilities at St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane, County Dublin, in the event of such needs being identified by the report currently being prepared by the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 129 together. The Eastern Health Board is responsible for the provision of services at St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane, County Dublin.

Following an allegation that some patients with mental handicap in St. Ita's Hospital were receiving improper care, the Eastern Health Board established an inquiry team to investigate the specific allegations made. The inquiry team concluded that practices in some parts of the hospital were a cause for concern. In response to the findings of the inquiry team, the Eastern Health Board prepared a draft development plan covering the future provision of services to patients with mental handicap at St. Ita's Hospital.

As part of this draft development plan, the board has appointed a director of mental handicap services to St. Ita's Hospital. Other management changes have been made and staff have been reassigned within the hospital. Patients to whom the allegation referred have been moved to new accommodation on site and the parents of the patients have been informed by the board of developments and of the reasons for the service reorganisation within the hospital.

Of the special funding made available [1892] to my Department in the budget to improve services for people with a mental handicap, an allocation of £200,000 has been provided to the Eastern Health Board to improve staffing levels at St. Ita's Hospital. The board will be using this allocation to recruit additional professional staff such as psychologists and nurses to improve services for clients with a mental handicap in St. Ita's Hospital.

I am awaiting the board's proposals in relation to medium-term capital developments to improve the physical accommodation for clients currently in St. Ita's. I can assure the Deputy that when the board's definitive plan for the development of services at St. Ita's Hospital is received in my Department it will be given a high priority in relation to additional funding made available to my Department.