Dáil Éireann - Volume 542 - 24 October, 2001

Written Answers. - Accident and Emergency Services.

207. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures he has taken on a nationwide basis to improve the service provided by Accident and Emergency departments of hospitals since his appointment as Minister for Health and Children. [25528/01]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I have initiated a wide range of measures to improve our Accident and Emergency services. This includes the provision of a £32 million investment package aimed at alleviating service pressures and maintaining services to patients, particularly in the acute hospital sector. The investment package has been targeted at a number of key service areas, including the recruitment of additional Accident and Emergency consultants to ensure that patients have improved access [1688] to a prompt senior clinical decision making service.

Funding has also been provided for the contracting of additional private nursing home places by the Eastern Regional Health Authority, ERHA, and the health boards. These places are for patients whose acute phase of treatment has been completed but who require additional care in an alternative setting. The ERHA and the health boards contracted more than 700 beds under the initiative last winter and this helped to free up acute beds for patients awaiting admission to hospital. Funding has also been allocated to the ERHA and each health board for the contracting of private nursing home places for the final three months of this year.

I have also provided funding to the ERHA and the health boards to support a further range of initiatives in Accident and Emergency departments. These include £5.19 million towards the development of Accident and Emergency facilities at St. James's Hospital, the provision of minor injuries units in Beaumont, Mater, James Connolly Memorial, St. James's and Tallaght hospitals, the development of the Accident and Emergency department at the Mater Hospital, the extension to the Accident and Emergency department at St. Columcille's Hospital, the development of pilot services for deep venous thrombosis in Beaumont Hospital, the provision of a chest pain service at St. James's Hospital, the provision of a pilot discharge lounge in Beaumont Hospital, the recruitment of discharge planners and patient liaison personnel at Accident and Emergency sites in the eastern region, the development of a new Accident and Emergency department at St. Vincent's Hospital, Elm Park, the development of a new Accident and Emergency department at The Children's Hospital, Temple Street, the planning of a new Accident and Emergency department for Cork University Hospital, the development of the Accident and Emergency department at Galway University Hospital, the development of the Accident and Emergency department at Castlebar General Hospital, the development of the Accident and Emergency department at Tullamore General Hospital, the development of a new Accident and Emergency department at Portlaoise General Hospital, the appointment of a design team for the development of a new Accident and Emergency department at Roscommon County Hospital, the upgrading of Accident and Emergency facilities at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Monaghan General Hospital and Our Lady's Hospital, Navan.

I also requested Comhairle na nOspidéal to undertake a review of the structure, operation and staffing of Accident and Emergency services and departments with the aim of improving the provision and quality of patient care. The review, which is at an advanced stage, will inform future policy decisions on the further development of Accident and Emergency services. I am satisfied that the initiatives which I have outlined will help [1689] to relieve pressures on Accident and Emergency services. I accept that there is still a need for additional targeted investment to the service and this will be addressed as a priority in the forthcoming health strategy.