On the 12th of July I addressed Minister for Health Finian McGrath regarding emergency service in Monaghan. Ten years ago Monaghan Hospital lost its acute services and locals have had to travel to Cavan or Drogheda ever since for emergency services. At the time when this service was taken away the HSE said they would fast-track a primary care centre for North County Monaghan, there is still no sign of this promised centre.
Deputy Finian McGrath: I congratulate Senator Gallagher on being elected to the Seanad and wish him the best of luck. I thank him for raising the development of the primary care centre for Monaghan town and I welcome the opportunity to outline the current position on this important health infrastructure development.
Over the past number of years work has been under way to deliver and manage health care as far as possible within a primary care setting, with patients less frequently requiring admission to hospital. The development of primary care is central to the Government’s objective of delivering a high quality, integrated and cost-effective health care system. Enhancing and expanding capacity in the primary care sector is crucial to ensuring delivery of a preventive, joined-up approach to the management of the nation’s health and the modernisation of primary care delivery. The programme for a partnership Government sets out a clear vision for health services in Ireland that is community-based, responsible and accessible to patients. The development of primary care is central to this by shifting the balance of care from a hospital-centric system to one located in the community, enabling users to access easily a broad spectrum of care services through their local primary care team. I have outlined the principle behind the system and the broader vision involved.
The delivery of primary care infrastructure is, however, dependent on a number of factors, including suitable locations being available, successful planning processes and a commitment by GPs to sharing accommodation and delivering health care services with HSE staff. The HSE is looking to provide a new primary care centre in Monaghan town to best provide for the needs of the population of Monaghan and I strongly support the Senator’s view on this matter. The primary care centre for Monaghan town is included in the HSE’s multi-annual capital plan and is currently at the design stage. The proposed location is the Monaghan hospital campus and it is presenting certain technical challenges – hence the delay. The HSE is examining these matters with the design team and all options for the delivery of the project are being considered. This process to identify a satisfactory solution to address these design challenges has not yet concluded. After the design issues have been dealt with, I hope to come back to the Senator and we can see what can happen from there.
Senator Robbie Gallagher: I thank the Minister of State for his response. I plead with him to use his good offices to try to ensure this project is fast-tracked as a matter of urgency. I will not go over the same ground again. Suffice to say this facility is badly needed. It would be very much appreciated by the people of County Monaghan, and by me, if the Minister could use his good offices to assert the case for the primary care centre for Monaghan town.