Dáil Éireann - Volume 507 - 01 July, 1999

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

[948] 135. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of occasions in the past six months that the linear accelerator in the radiology department of Cork University Hospital has been out of order; if his attention has been drawn to this matter and the distress it is causing to patients; the action, if any, he will take in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17052/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): The provision of hospital services is in the first instance the statutory responsibility of the Southern Health Board. I am aware of recent interruptions in service at the radiotherapy department at Cork University Hospital. However I have been assured by the board that every effort has been made to minimise any disruption to patients.

When this matter was brought to my attention in January this year I requested the health board to put proposals to me for the resolution of this problem as a matter of urgency. The health board's proposals indicated that the main problem in relation to the radiotherapy service in Cork University Hospital is the absence of backup equipment where a break in service occurs in the single linear accelerator. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that I have approved the provision of a second linear accelerator for Cork University Hospital at an estimated cost of £2 million. The provision of this second machine will ensure continuity of service for patients requiring radiotherapy and will help prevent the recurrence of interruptions to treatment in the future. Together with the development of a new chemotherapy day unit and remote afterloading facilities which are already at an advanced stage of planning, the provision of a second linear accelerator marks a major step in the development of radiotherapy services at Cork University Hospital.