Dáil Éireann - Volume 637 - 27 June, 2007
Written Answers. - Hospital Services.
Deputy Joe McHugh Deputy Joe McHugh
Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in relation to the finding by the Comptroller and Auditor General report on private practice in public hospitals, it is acceptable that 34% of elective inpatient cases are private in view of the problem of insufficient availability of public hospital beds for public patients, the associated lengthy waiting lists and that this is supposed to be restricted to 20%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17693/07]
Deputy Frank Feighan Deputy Frank Feighan
Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the recent finding by the Comptroller and Auditor General report that private practice in public hospitals significantly exceeds 20% in all categories of clinical activity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17692/07]
Deputy Mary Harney Deputy Mary Harney
Deputy Mary Harney: I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 166 together.
I welcome the publication of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Special Report on the Medical Consultant’s Contract. The report provides additional supporting evidence for a new consultant’s contract. The report, inter alia, identifies the Government’s concern at the extent to which the level of private practice in public hospitals exceeds the 20% of designated beds in public hospitals. There are 2,500 beds in public hospitals designated for use by the private patients of consultants. However, as the report points out admissions to public hospitals of private patients of consultants on an elective basis (i.e. planned rather than emergency) make up about 35% of total elective admissions. There is a need to ensure that a consultant’s private practice does not prevent or hinder access by public patients to public hospital services.
I intend to give early effect to commitments in the Programme for Government to put public patients first and to ensure greater equality in access and care between public and private patients. The interests of public patients must be  protected and this requires an end to practices which serve to impede access for public patients and hinders effective hospital management.
Deputy Phil Hogan Deputy Phil Hogan
Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children her immediate plans in place to allow patients in Limerick to have timely and appropriate access to dialysis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17628/07]
Deputy Ciarán Lynch Deputy Ciarán Lynch
Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation with dialysis at Limerick Regional Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17611/07]
Deputy Mary Harney Deputy Mary Harney
Deputy Mary Harney: I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 142 together.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has informed my Department that the number of patients receiving dialysis treatment at the Limerick Regional Hospital has increased by approximately 20% over the last two years. I understand that the dialysis service in Limerick now runs on a seven days a week basis, working at maximum capacity, providing 277 treatments to 99 patients a week. Five patients from the Mid-West area are currently receiving their treatment at neighbouring units as an interim measure until dialysis capacity is increased locally.
Arrangements are well advanced to provide for increased dialysis capacity in Limerick in the short and medium term. The HSE has invited tenders for the provision of additional dialysis services and is also working with the Irish Kidney Association in an effort to increase capacity locally. Additional revenue funding of €12 million was provided to the HSE in 2006 and the current year to support the provision of dialysis facilities, the development of a living-related renal donor programme and the implementation of the National Renal Strategy, which is due to be published shortly by the HSE. I understand that it will recommend the development of additional consultant led renal services on a regional basis.
A number of new renal dialysis facilities have opened recently and others are due to open soon. These include a nine station facility opened in St. Vincent’s Hospital in 2006; eight new dialysis stations at Cork University Hospital which are due to open later this summer, and a 17 station unit being opened as part of the new hospital development at Tullamore. This is due to open before the end of this month. In addition 155 patients are now being treated in dialysis units operated by the private sector and 15 living donor transplants will take place this year in Beaumont Hospital.
Dáil Éireann 637 Written Answers. Hospital Services.