Health centres can aid hospitals - Harris
Treating the majority of patients in the community rather than in Emergency Departments (ED) is the key to solving overcrowding in the health service.
That's according to Minister for Health Simon Harris, who was speaking as he broke ground at the site of a new primary care centre in Summerhill, north Dublin,, Mr Harris said more local medical centres were needed to tackle the issues facing EDs across the country.
"Centres like the one in Summerhill also help keep people out of hospital, confident that they can avail of a comprehensive range of health and social care services in their communities," he said.
"Its construction on a derelict site is an acknowledgement of the Government's commitment to invest into communities."
The new facility at Summerhill - due to be finished in 2018 - will include accommodation for primary care team services which include a GP and practice nurse, community nursing services, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and home help.
Speaking after the event, Mr Harris said a highly-critical UN report of Ireland's abortion law should form the basis for future discussions on issues surrounding the Eighth Amendment.
The UN Human Rights Committee found that Ireland's ban on abortion subjected women carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".
Calling the study "deeply upsetting", Minister Harris said that its findings should inform discussions by the forthcoming citizens' assembly on matters relating to the Eighth Amendment.
Mr Harris said that the "current situation about fatal foetal abnormalities was not satisfactory".
"In light of the UN report, I feel there is a new sense of priority and urgency attached to this issue ... Clear action in this area is now needed," he said.