Dáil Éireann - Volume 599 - 23 March, 2005

Written Answers - Community Nursing Units.

  139. Mr. Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will continue with plans to provide beds in CNUs through public private partnership as announced in July 2002; the reason the southern and eastern regions were chosen for the plan; her estimated costs of the project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9556/05]

  Ms Harney:There have been discussions between my Department and the Department of Finance on the proposal to deliver 850 community nursing unit beds through a public private partnership and the work that has been done so far has helped to clarify a number of issues. The public sector benchmarks prepared for the projects provide a detailed risk adjusted costing of the PPP projects in the southern and eastern regions, where the shortage of long-stay beds is most acute. In accordance with Department of Finance policy the estimated cost of a PPP project is not made available until the preferred bidder has been selected and the contract signed.

It is important that appropriate step down services are available to match the needs of patients who are ready to be discharged from hospital. Following the health Estimates for 2005, I announced that patients awaiting discharge would be accommodated in private nursing home beds for up to six weeks. On discharge from the private nursing home they would go to a nursing home of their choice or to their own home with the support of a home care package. In addition, the home care packages will be extended to support 500 additional older people at home and 100 high dependency patients will transfer to suitable private nursing home care. The provision of additional long stay capacity is required to relieve pressure on the acute hospital and community care programme and I am pursuing the need to deliver such capacity with the Minister for Finance as a matter of high priority.