Speeches

Address by Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Health and Children at the launch of the document, “Standards of Care for People with disabling neurological conditions where cognitive decline is a major feature”

Introduction

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I was very pleased to accept the invitation here today from the Neurological Alliance of Ireland to launch this document, Standards of Care for People with disabling neurological conditions where cognitive decline is a major feature.

Standards of Care Documents

This document is the last in a series of three publications which seek to address the needs and requirements of the 500,000 or so people in the Irish population who suffer from a range of neurological conditions. Volume One of the series, Standards of Care for people with a physically disabling neurological condition in the hospital and the community, was launched by my colleague Minister Hanafin in May 2000 and, in June of last year, I had the pleasure of launching the second volume which deals with the care for people with non-physically disabling neurological and associated psychiatric conditions.

Publication of the Standards of Care documents by the Neurological Alliance, in collaboration with an expert group of clinical professionals in Neurology and Psychiatry, and supported by an education grant from Elan Pharma Ireland Ltd represents a successful collaboration between the voluntary sector, service providers and the pharmaceutical sector.

Standards of Care – Volume III

This document caters for those people who experience decline in cognitive function as the principal symptom of their neurological condition. Conditions associated with such a decline include Alzheimer´s Disease, Huntington´s Disease and Parkinson´s Disease.

As the foreword to this volume says the divisions employed by these documents are clearly artificial, as many conditions have features of both physical and neurological disability and cognitive impairment. As with previous volumes this document outlines the requirements for optimal care and provides descriptions of the conditions associated with cognitive decline. It identifies current practice and makes a series of recommendations to implement improved services.

Review of Neurological Services and Related Issues

As many of you know I have requested Comhairle na nOspideal to undertake a review of neurological and related issues. Comhairle established a committee with the following terms of reference:

To examine the existing arrangements for the provision of consultant-level neurology and neurophysiology services nationally and following consultation with the interests concerned, to make recommendations to Comhairle Na nOspideal on the future organisation and development of neurology and neurophysiology services. The review will focus on updating the 1991 Comhairle report taking into account recent advances in and increasing demand for neurological and neurophysiological services.

The Comhairle review is still underway and the consultation stage is almost complete. I expect to receive the report shortly and have had recent discussions with your Chairman, Ms Audrey Craven and Dr Orla Hardiman concerning proposals for an implementation group to develop a medium, intermediate and long-term plan for the development of the service.

This approach will ensure a multidisciplinary approach which is in line with many of the key recommendations contained in the Standards of Care report and will complement the proposals in Quality and Fairness, particularly in relation to the development of respite and long-term beds. It is this Government´s stated intention to introduce an additional 600 day hospital beds with facilities encompassing specialist areas such as falls, Parkinson´s Disease, stroke prevention and heart failure. An additional 800 extended care/community nursing unit places per annum will be introduced, with revised and improved staffing levels, over the next 7 years. This will greatly enhance services for people with dementia.

Conclusion

In conclusion, may I convey my sincere thanks to all of the professionals and voluntary support groups and your industry sponsors who contributed to the publication of today´s report, and indeed the two earlier volumes. I wish to commend you for your endeavours in producing these Standard of Care documents. It represents an important body of work and will be a valuable asset in the continually evolving and improving level of service for all persons with neurological conditions.

Thank You.