Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Health to set out the progress in establishing new health centres at two locations in County Galway (details supplied) in recognition of the critical nature of the health facilities for the communities; whether the provision of the health facility is a matter for his Department and the Health Service Executive rather than any other Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27009/14]
Deputy Seán Kyne: The question relates to the plans for replacement of a health centre on Inisbofin Island and the plans for Corrandulla health centre.
Minister of State Alex White: The development of primary care is central to the Government’s objective of delivering a high-quality, integrated and cost-effective health system. Primary care infrastructure is being delivered through three mechanisms: direct build, a leasing initiative and a public private partnership initiative announced in the July 2012 infrastructure stimulus package. The development of primary care centres through a combination of public and private investment will facilitate the delivery of multidisciplinary primary care and represents a tangible refocusing of the health service to deliver care in the most appropriate and lowest cost setting.
Considerable progress has already been made in the delivery of primary care centres. Since this Government came into office in March 2011, a total 37 primary care centres have been opened and infrastructure development is under way or at an advanced planning stage at a further 43 locations, where delivery is expected during the period between 2014 and 2016 or early 2017.
As with all capital projects, the primary care infrastructure programme must be considered within the overall capital envelope available to the health service. There will always be more projects than can be funded by the Exchequer. There is limited funding available for new projects over the period 2014-18 given the level of commitments and the costs of completion. The HSE is concentrating on applying the limited funding available for capital works in the most effective way possible to meet needs now and in the future.
Deputy Seán Kyne: I thank the Minister of State for his reply. I commend the Government on the ongoing work and on the number of primary care centres that have opened, including those recently opened in Athenry and Loughrea in Galway. There is no update on the two projects that I mentioned. I spoke to the Minister of State before regarding Inisbofin. There was back-and-forth between the Department of Health and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht over which had responsibility for the project. There had been an issue previously that the Department with responsibility for the Gaeltacht and the islands had responsibility for island communities. Anyway, I understand that has been cleared up. Perhaps the Minister of State could come back to me with details of the progress on that health centre as well as the centre in Corrandulla, which is currently closed, but which, I understand, is listed for refurbishment. This issue arose often during the recent canvas.
Minister of State, Alex White: The Deputy is correct. He has raised this issue previously. I will revert to him on it today or tomorrow at the latest, as I know the issue. I welcome his general support for primary care centres.
In recent weeks, the Minister, Deputy Reilly, and I have had the honour of opening additional primary care centres in different parts of the country. One could see the value their communities placed in them and the incredible services they provided. I opened one in Schull in County Cork, another in Blanchardstown recently and one in Summerhill, County Meath. One has been opened per month since the Government came to office. We receive a great deal of criticism. Some is justified, but much is not. I draw the House’s attention to the amazing work that is being done in the primary care sector, particularly in the provision of new buildings. The housing of services under one roof obviates the need for people to travel long distances, as was the case in Schull, for services that should be available in their own communities. This kind of change is taking place in our health services and is valuable to communities across the country.