Dáil Éireann - Volume 571 - 30 September, 2003
Written Answers. - Health Service Staff.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
987. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the total number of extra personnel employed in the health services in the past five years; the degree to which services to the public have improved in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20953/03]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): There were 95,679 personnel, excluding home helps, employed in the health service in wholetime equivalent terms at end-2002. This represents an increase of 27,838, 41%, over end-1997.
There have been significant improvements in the health service in recent years. Funding has increased by 162% since 1997. This has contributed to the following advances: waiting lists are  down by 35% in the number of adults waiting more than 12 months for in-patient treatment between June 2002 and March 2003; a 56% reduction in the number of children waiting more than six months in the same period; the biggest ever increase in bed capacity – 709 beds for public use only expected in 2003; in primary care, we have seen ten pilot projects, one stop shops, commenced all over the country – GP co-ops will be extended further in 2003; €31 million has been allocated to target people waiting more than one year for treatment under the national treatment purchase fund – to end August 6,500 patients have received treatment; there has been a 73% increase in the number of occupational therapists, and a 33% increase in speech and language therapists and a 40% increase in the number of psychologists working in the health service between 1999 and 2002.
With regard to disabilities services – intellectual, 2,950 new day care places were provided between 1997 and 2002. In the region of 600 additional places will be provided in 2003. Around 1,700 residential places were provided between 1997 and 2002. Around 175 extra will be provided for emergency placements in 2003.
From 1997 to 2003 funding of €370 million – revenue and capital – has been provided to enhance services for persons with intellectual disability and autism. Transfers from psychiatric hospitals for these clients are continuing, while for physical and sensory disability almost €220 million – capital and non-capital – was allocated from 1997 to 2003. That money has given us 400 new day care places, 51 long-term residential places and 95 residential respite places. Approximately €1.79 million has been spent annually for people with disabilities, including mental illness.
In mental health services, we have seen the Mental Health Commission appointed and, in addition, four new acute psychiatric units have opened since 1997 with four new units pending. Other units are at various stages of planning. An additional €7.6 million is being spent this year. An expert group on mental health policy has been established. For services for older people, there have been public private partnerships pilots involving 17 new community nursing units, 850 beds, and in the ERHA and SHB, nine and eight respectively, have been announced. Since 1998, 550 additional beds have been added and 1,250 day places are being provided.
The improvements in services listed are illustrative of the extent to which particular health and personal social services have been strengthened; this listing is by no means exhaustive.
Dáil Éireann 571 Written Answers. Health Service Staff.