Dáil Éireann - Volume 609 - 08 November, 2005

Adjournment Debate. - Hospital Services.

  Mr. Deenihan: On 21 June 2005, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, approved a new community nursing unit for Tralee for inclusion in the capital investment framework 2005. The proposed development is a 50-bed community nursing unit to be built on a greenfield site located off the Killerisk Road, Tralee. The facility will comprise two modules of [912] 25 beds each, plus ancillary facilities providing continuing care, respite and convalescence care to dependent older people.

The senior citizens of Tralee have been campaigning for a new community nursing unit for the past seven and a half years. It is a facility that is much needed in Tralee. The current beds available for the elderly in Tralee are located on the top floor of Kerry General Hospital. As a result of this, patients are cut off from all activity and access is difficult. Many of the senior citizens of Tralee must take a bed in St. Columbanus’s long-stay hospital in Killarney. It results in considerable inconvenience for their families, especially in the case of elderly relatives who in many instances must use public transport to get to Killarney from Tralee. The round trip from Tralee to Killarney may take an entire day.

Tralee and its immediate hinterland has a population of more than 30,000 people. It is the only town in the country with this level of population that does not have a community nursing unit or similar facilities to enable patients to access care as close to their local community as is reasonably possible. The seven and a half years of campaigning and the age profile of the people involved has now taken its toll and many of the members are now in care themselves. Sadly, 16 members of the original group that got together to campaign for the community nursing unit are now dead. Many more are worried that they will not live to see this facility made available for the elderly in Tralee.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of people like Ellen Rowan, Christy Tobin and Mairéad Fernane who championed this project from the outset. The community nursing unit is at pre-tender stage. I appeal to the Minister and the Health Service Executive to allow this project to proceed to tender immediately so that Tralee can at last have its own community nursing unit.

  Mr. T. O’Malley: I am taking the Adjournment matter on behalf of my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney. I thank Deputy Deenihan for raising the question as it provides me with an opportunity to outline to the House the current situation on this matter.

On 21 June 2005, the Tánaiste approved the new community nursing unit for Tralee for inclusion in the capital investment framework 2005. The proposed development is a 50-bed community nursing unit to be built on a greenfield site located off the Killerisk Road, Tralee. The facility will comprise two modules of 25 beds each, plus ancillary facilities providing continuing care, respite and convalescence care to dependent older people.

[913] The community nursing unit is at pre-tender stage. Over recent months, the HSE has been working on finalising the tender documentation and this exercise has now been completed. The executive has advised that it is now in the process of finalising a detailed costing and identifying the additional revenue requirement. It hopes to be in a position to conclude discussions with the Department of Health and Children on this matter over the coming weeks. The HSE has advised that it will then be in a position to seek tenders.