Dáil Éireann - Volume 481 - 09 October, 1997

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

60. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will give details of the discussions, if any, between officials at his Department and representatives of management and staff of Mullingar General Hospital regarding the bringing into use of the X-ray department, the accident and emergency unit and the outpatients department within the newly constructed phase 2A extension to that hospital; if so, the outcome of these discussions; and when these units will be operational within the new structure. [15768/97]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): Phase 2A of the development at LongfordWestmeath General Hospital comprises a new accident and emergency department, X-ray department, out patient department and medical records department. A new main entrance has also been provided. Because of the improved layout of the facilities and the expected increase in usage, the Midland Health Board estimates that it will require an additional 80 staff at an annual cost of £1.5 million to make the new developments fully operational. When other running costs are taken into account I would expect the facility to cost up to £2.5 million per annum.

Some progress has been made in bringing the new facilities into use. The existing out patient [615] services have been relocated in the new out patient department and the medical records staff are providing support services to out patient clinics from the new building.

Discussions on how best to commission the facilities have been taking place between my Department and a group representing management and staff at the hospital. I am anxious to ensure that the full development can be opened as soon as possible, and I intend to pursue this objective in the context of the 1998 Estimates process.