Dáil Éireann - Volume 546 - 12 December, 2001
Adjournment Debate. - Care of the Elderly.
Mr. Finucane Mr. Finucane
Mr. Finucane: St. Ita's Hospital provides services for an elderly population of more than 7,500 persons in the west Limerick area. The main structure of the building was constructed around 1840 and the remainder was constructed in 1975. As it is an old building it would require large scale development to provide high quality services for older people.
St. Ita's Hospital caters for 127 patients in continuing care. It has eight rehabilitation in-patient beds. However, this is inadequate and, based on the population, the recommended norm would be 24 beds. The hospital also has six beds for respite services which is totally inadequate for the level of respite care to be provided. It has out-patient physiotherapy services for those over 65 years of age on a needs basis and occupational therapy services.
I live in Newcastle West and have always been aware of the excellent service provided by the staff of St. Ita's Hospital. Over the past five years it has been agreed that a 16 bed Alzheimer's-dementia unit has to be provided. The present situation is most unsatisfactory and causes much inconvenience to staff and patients. Over the past four years we have had successive visits by the former Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Cowen, the current Minister, Deputy Martin, and the Taoiseach. There is an awareness of the necessity for this building.
There is much disappointment that valuable time has slipped by and not a sod has been turned on the site for this essential building. Recent newspaper articles indicate the building was not included in the national programme for development. It would be a disaster if this essential project was to be deferred. I understand the project is at the design stage, but will the Minister of State indicate when construction will commence and confirm that appropriate finance will be provided?
I call on the Minister of State to confirm to the Mid-Western Health Board that finance will be provided. I will continue to pressurise the Government on this matter. The ongoing delay is unacceptable and unfair to the patients and staff of St. Ita's Hospital. I hope the Minister of State will give me the appropriate assurance that this project will go ahead. I look forward to his reply.
Dr. Moffatt Dr. Moffatt
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt): I thank the Deputy  for raising this matter. The provision of health services in County Limerick is a matter for the Mid-Western Health Board. It is a matter for the board to decide its priorities under the national development plan.
The Mid-Western Health Board has been allocated indicative funding of £16.349 million – 20.76 million – under the national development plan for services for older people. In 2000, the board was allocated £1.082 million – 1.37 million – under the national development plan for services for older people. The allocation for 2001 is £1.279 million – 1.62 million – while for 2002 it is £1.88 million – 2.39 million.
Additional revenue funding for the development of services for older people has increased significantly from £10 million – 12.7 million – in 1997 to an additional £57.427 million – 72.91 million – in 2001, including nursing home subvention funding. Additional funding of £69.154 million – 87.807 million – will be made available in 2002 for services for older people. Of this figure, £5.571 million – 7.073 million – is allocated to the Mid-Western Health Board.
In 2000, as part of the national development plan, it was agreed that a project team be established for the development of a ten bed unit for the elderly or mentally infirm. It has been agreed that the development should be increased to a 12 bed unit.
In January 2000, a capital grant of £400,000 – 507,900 – was provided for the unit. A number of design issues were raised in the course of 2000 which required careful consideration. It was agreed the design brief would require redrafting. At the request of the board, it was agreed the 2000 allocation would be used to undertake refurbishment works at St. Ita's Hospital and St. Camillus's Hospital, Limerick.
The amended draft brief submitted to the Department by the board in early 2001 has been approved and a suitable site has been identified on the grounds of the hospital. The board's proposal in respect of establishing a design team has been agreed and the team is now in place. The design team is now working on the completion of building design proposals. Draft design plans have been drawn up and are being considered by the project team.
Mr. Finucane Mr. Finucane
Mr. Finucane: I hope the first sod will be turned before the general election.
Dr. Moffatt Dr. Moffatt
Dr. Moffatt: Le cúnamh Dé.
Dáil Éireann 546 Adjournment Debate. Care of the Elderly.