Dáil Éireann - Volume 454 - 13 June, 1995

Written Answers. - County Wicklow Health Services.

109. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health if he has satisfied himself with the level of health services in County Wicklow; the proposals, if any, he has to improve health services in this area; the time schedule involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10703/95]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): The provision of health services in the Wicklow area is a matter in the first instance for the Eastern Health Board.

The Deputy will be aware that current acute hospital services in County Wicklow are well provided for by St. Vincents' Hospital, Elm Park; St. Michael's Hospital, Dún Laoghaire and St. Colmcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown. In addition to the annual allocations received by these hospitals, a sum of over £3.3 million has been allocated in the past two years in respect of additional service developments, maintenance and the purchase of new equipment.

The Deputy will also be aware that West County Wicklow is included in the catchment area which will be served by the new Tallaght Hospital which is the largest hospital project ever commissioned in the history of the State. It will be a 513 bed teaching hospital with an out-patient and accident and emergency department, a childrens' unit, psychiatric unit and a geriatric assessment and rehabilitation unit as well as nearly 300 general medical and surgical beds. Building is due to be completed in December 1996 and the hospital is [600] scheduled to open in 1997. When completed, the people of west County Wicklow, Tallaght and south Kildare will have a hospital with state of the art technology and patient facilities which will compare favourably with the best international standards.

In relation to mental handicap services a sum of £2.665 million has been allocated to the Eastern Health Board area for the development of these services in 1995. Details of the proposals agreed with the Eastern Mental Handicap Central Planning Committee are currently being examined by my Department. The proposals include a number of service developments for the Wicklow area.

With regard to psychiatric services, the main in-patient base for those with mental illness is Newcastle Hospital, County Wicklow. Care is provided in two wards in the hospital, an acute admission ward with 36 beds and a long-stay psycho-geriatric ward with 38 beds. Community residential facilities comprise a range of high, medium and low-support community residences.

The quality of care provided in both the hospital and community residence is of a very high standard and the inspector of mental hospitals, who carries out a statutory annual inspection of all public psychiatric hospitals and associated community residences, is most complimentary of the Newcastle service and considers the hospital to be one of the better ones in the country.

I am very satisfied with the level of health services being provided for the people of County Wicklow and wish to assure the Deputy of the Government's continuing commitment to the further development of these services.