Dáil Éireann - Volume 586 - 26 May, 2004
Written Answers - Health Board Services.
Ms Lynch Ms Lynch
68. Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to claims made at the recent EU cardiac health conference in Cork that children with heart conditions are now facing increased delays of up to a year and a half to see a specialist; the steps he intends to take to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15586/04]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin:The Eastern Regional Health Authority, ERHA, is charged with responsibility for commissioning health and personal social services on behalf of the population of the region and also on behalf of those outside the region who are referred for specialist treatment. My Department has been advised by the ERHA that the two main constraints on out-patient cardiology services at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, have been consultant manpower and physical space.
The hospital and the ERHA have recognised that urgent priority needs to be given to the upgrade and development of the cardiac services department, which includes the departments of paediatric cardiology and paediatric cardiac surgery. A draft design brief has been prepared by a sub-group of the project team that is currently planning the overall redevelopment of the hospital in order to address the most urgent needs of the cardiac services department. The draft brief describes an interim solution, which could be put in place in a relatively short time  frame pending the overall hospital development. It is proposed to commission a site study to identify, consider and assess the available options for the creation of an efficient workable cardiology unit. In the meantime, the ERHA, in conjunction with the hospital, is exploring options for acquiring additional consultancy room space to facilitate the demand for out-patient clinics.
The ERHA has sanctioned the appointment of two additional consultant cardiologists, one of whom took up post in November 2003. The second cardiologist, who was due to take up post this summer, has recently decided not to take up the appointment. A locum consultant cardiologist has been in place since February 2004. This locum contract will now be extended and the hospital will be in a position to provide additional out-patient appointments to patients. I have been advised by the ERHA that, while there may be delays in providing follow-up appointments, urgent referrals are seen as soon as possible.
Dáil Éireann 586 Written Answers Health Board Services.