Dáil Éireann - Volume 407 - 24 April, 1991

Written Answers. - County Westmeath Hospital.

98. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to (a) the appalling facilities existing in the admissions unit of St. Loman's Hospital, Mullingar, County Westmeath and (b) the resulting difficulties for staff and patients; if, in view of the need to improve facilities at this unit he will outline the money which he has allocated for 1991 for this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I am aware of the need to upgrade admission facilities at St. Loman's Hospital, Mullingar, and I have received proposals from the Midland Health Board in this regard. I will give every consideration to the funding of these proposals in the light of the availability of capital resources for the development of the psychiartric services during the current year and the priority attached to the project by the Midland Health Board.

99. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the number of staff employed in St. Loman's Hospital, Mullingar, County Weatmeath on (a) 1 April 1983, (b) 1 April 1986 and (c) 1 April 1990; and the number of in-patients at the hospital at those dates.

Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The total number of wholetime equivalent [1037] staff employed at St. Loman's Hospital, Mullingar at 1 April for each of the years listed is as follows: 1983,574; 1986, 566; 1990, 375.

The 1990 figure excludes 57 staff who are employed in a designated mental handicap unit at St. Loman's Hospital.

I understand from the Midland Health Board that as a result of the introduction of efficiency measures, the reduction in the numbers of staff employed at St. Loman's Hospital was mainly in the nonmedical and non-nursing categories.

The number of in-patients at 31 December for each of the years listed is as follows: 1983, 719; 1986, 649; 1990, 351.

The Midland Health Board have been developing community psychiatric services as an alternative to institutional care as recommended in the policy document — Planning for the Future. The implementation of this policy has resulted in a continuing reduction in the number of patients who need to remain in psychiatric hospitals for treatment.

100. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he approves of the proposed selling-off of the farm attached to St. Loman's Hospital, Mullingar, County Westmeath to finance current year expenditure; and whether he approves of the disposal of all surplus assets to maintain our health services.

Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I have approved a proposal from the Midland Health Board to sell 13 acres of land adjacent to St. Loman's Hospital, Mullingar to St. Loman's GAA Club. The Midland Health Board intend to apply the proceeds from the sale of this land towards the further development of community psychiatric services by the provision of hostels in Longford, Athlone and Mullingar. I have received no other proposals from the Midland Health Board in relation to the disposal of land [1038] at St. Loman's Hospital and I am informed by the board that they have no plans. Where health boards have assets which are surplus to requirements, I have no objection to their disposal provided the proceeds realised from such disposal are applied towards the development of the health services.