Dáil Éireann - Volume 463 - 14 March, 1996
Adjournment Debate. - Public Nursing Services.
Mr. N. Treacy Mr. N. Treacy
Mr. N. Treacy: I wish to inform the  Minister for Health of the serious position in the Galway East constituency and County Galway in general because of a lack of medical requisites for geriatric and other public health service patients cared for in the community. As and from next week they will be in short supply.
On examining the Book of Estimates I note the Government proposes to spend £2,148,770,000 on health care this year and that £1,164,354,000 has been allocated for the discharge of services in the eight regional health board areas.
Last October, November and December there was a similar shortage of dressings, bandages, tapes and other medical necessities for people cared for in the community. A number of carers telephoned my home and constituency office this week about the matter. By caring for the elderly in their homes those people save the State a vast amoung of money. If those elderly people were cared for in State geriatric homes run by health boards or private nursing homes subvented by health boards — both of which are ultimately paid for out of Exchequer funds — it would cost the State at great deal more money.
These people urgently require the assistance provided by carers and home helps and the professional medical back-up support provided by the excellent cadre of public health nurses who operate in the community. The carers who contacted me said they had been informed that the normal supply of dressings, bandages and other medical requirements would not be provided this week and that there may be a shortage of them in the months ahead. I ask the Minister of State to give me a commitment that there will be no diminution in the funding for community care nursing services, which save the Exchequer much money and do tremendous work, and no shortage in the provision of medical requisites for geriatric and other patients. I hope he can give this assurance so that this matter will not have to be raised again.
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Currie) Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Currie)
 Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Currie): I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. On the question of the Estimates, the 1996 letter of determination of health expenditure issued to the Western Health Board represented a real increase of 3 per cent over the figure for 1995. This has to be regarded as a reasonable allocation given the Government's policy is to maintain overall public expenditure increases in 1996 to within 2 per cent of the approved level for 1995.
It is a matter for the Western Health Board to determine budgets for individual services within its overall allocation and the responsibility for the provision of services such as the public health nursing service rests with the board. Accordingly, this matter was raised with the Western Health Board which stated that certain difficulties in regard to the placing of orders for the supply of medical requisites had been brought to its attention by the public health nursing service in the Galway area. The board is examining this issue and I have been assured that it will continue to make arrangements to ensure that medical requisites are provided to patients in need.
Mr. N. Treacy Mr. N. Treacy
Mr. N. Treacy: I thank the Minister for that assurance.
Dáil Éireann 463 Adjournment Debate. Public Nursing Services.