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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 379-403
 Header Item Mental Health Services
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Medical Qualifications
 Header Item Palliative Care Facilities
 Header Item Medicinal Products Availability
 Header Item Garda Vetting of Personnel
 Header Item General Practitioner Training
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Ambulance Service Provision
 Header Item Home Care Packages Data
 Header Item Emergency Departments
 Header Item Mental Health Services Staff
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists Data
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Health Services Data
 Header Item Hospital Deaths
 Header Item Long-Term Illness Scheme Coverage
 Header Item UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
 Header Item National Children's Hospital Status
 Header Item Generic Drugs Substitution
 Header Item Generic Drugs Substitution
 Header Item Medical Card Administration

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 379-403

Mental Health Services

 379. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to fast-track children in care to access CAMHS in a speedier manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42880/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly The Government is strongly committed to developing all aspects of mental health services envisaged under, A Vision for Change, and being delivered by the HSE, including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, CAMHS. Significant progress has been made over recent years, underpinned by additional funding given since 2012 to develop mental health services overall.

  HSE CAMHS has standardised operation procedures which supports timely access to services, based on professional clinical assessment and prioritisation, to address the mental health needs of all children presenting to this specialist service. Despite increasing demands overall on CAMHS, irrespective of the source of referrals, individual cases assessed as urgent receive priority. Children in care, therefore, access CAMHS in the same way as other young people assessed as requiring this specialist clinical service.

  The development of CAMHS is a priority under the HSE Service Plan 2017. In addition, TUSLA and the HSE published in March last a joint working protocol to support good collaboration and working relationships between both agencies. The protocol governs how children in care access HSE-related services, including transition of young people in care to adult services. Minister Zappone and I have recently commenced a joint assessment to see how our respective Departments, in conjunction with the HSE and TUSLA, can further improve inter-agency co-operation in relation to CAMHS.

  I will continue to closely monitor progress this initiative, in the context of the agreed priorities for CAMHS set out in the HSE Service Plan for this year, including improved Access and reducing Waiting Lists.

Hospital Services

 380. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the processes and services available for children with intestinal failure transitioning from the national paediatric unit at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42887/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I am aware that a business case for the establishment of a dedicated centre for Intestinal Failure was prepared by St. James’s Hospital. Any proposals for the funding for the centre for intestinal failure in St. James's, including children with intestinal failure transitioning from the national paediatric unit at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, will have to be considered as part of the Hospital Group’s overall priorities for services across the Group with regard to competing priorities for resources available in 2018. .

Medical Qualifications

 381. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the qualifications required for a person to deliver psychological counselling and therapeutic services to young and elderly persons suffering from mental health issues in the private or public sectors.  [42888/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter.

Palliative Care Facilities

 382. Deputy Bobby Aylward Information on Bobby Aylward Zoom on Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a submission seeking funding for palliative care rooms within the replacement ward accommodation under phase two of the current developments at Saint Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny has been submitted in conjunction with a charity (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42891/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In relation to the query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Medicinal Products Availability

 383. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the drug eteplirsen is available for persons here; his plans to fund this drug for public patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42892/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines under the community drug schemes, in accordance with the provisions of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

 384. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason it takes up to eight weeks for Garda vetting forms to clear for staff waiting to begin working for the HSE; the reason it is not possible for the HSE to apply for Garda vetting online for potential employees in view of the fact that other organisations can do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42916/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter.

General Practitioner Training

 385. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he has given consideration to providing funding to appoint more tutors for the north Dublin area to help maintain general practitioners’ commitments to continuous medical education in view of their necessary obligations to remain on the Irish Medical Council register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42918/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris All doctors on the Medical Council's register, including GPs, are required to maintain professional competence by enrolling in professional competence schemes and engaging in maintenance of professional competence activities in relation to their practice.

The HSE provides some support towards this requirement for GPs by funding the GP Continuing Medical Education, CME, National Tutor Network. These Tutors provide teaching to all GPs in active practice to keep them up to date with medical information in relation to general practice.

As this is a service matter, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy. .

Hospital Appointments Status

 386. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of an operation for a person (details supplied); the communication that the person has received regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42920/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive, HSE, is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly. .

Ambulance Service Provision

 387. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the level of ambulance cover available each day of the week on a 24-hour basis at each of the ambulance stations across counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42921/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Home Care Packages Data

 388. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of persons with dementia availing of intensive home care packages as of 30 September 2017 by county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42937/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Emergency Departments

 389. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to tackle the expected surge in trolley numbers and the expected overcrowding in accident and emergency departments in the event of winter vomiting bug occurring; and the contingencies in place in this regard.  [42938/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Firstly, I wish to acknowledge the distress for patients and their families, and the impact on staff, caused by cramped and overcrowded conditions in some of our hospital Emergency Departments, EDs. ED overcrowding and long patient waiting times for emergency care are of critical concern within the health service and tackling these issues remains a key priority for my Department.

In general, demand in EDs reaches a more intense peak during the winter period. Therefore, there is a requirement for winter planning and preparedness to be undertaken, to provide assurance that safe and effective care will be provided over the winter months given the additional anticipatory pressures arising from, for example influenza, norovirus and severe weather.

As such, Hospital Groups, Community Health Organisations and hospitals are all currently in the process of developing integrated winter plans to cover the period October 2017 to March 2018. These plans have been submitted to the HSE for consideration and approval in the coming weeks.

In compliance with the Escalation Directive, all hospitals with EDs have contingency plans in place, to be implemented as required in times of high demand.

My Department continues to work intensively with the HSE to address the challenges, and monitor performance, in our EDs. .

Mental Health Services Staff

 390. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of members of staff, both medical and clerical, that make up the Child and Adult Mental Health Services team based at University Hospital Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42939/17]

: Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Hospital Waiting Lists Data

 391. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the waiting list for joint replacement operations in the Ireland East Hospital Group in each of the past three years, by hospital; the number of such replacement joint operations carried out in the hospitals; the location in which they were carried out for the same period; if persons were sent to other hospitals outside this region during this period; if so, the locations to which they were sent; the cost of these operations; if a cap on maximum joint replacement operations per annum has been imposed; if so, the reason therefore; the person or body that made the order; the date that it was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42940/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In relation to the queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service issues, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Hospital Appointments Status

 392. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when a person (details supplied) will be called for a procedure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42943/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive, HSE, is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The scheduling of appointments for patients is a matter for the hospital to which the patient has been referred. Should a patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he or she should take the matter up with the consultant and the hospital involved. In relation to the specific case raised, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly. .

Health Services Data

 393. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if figures are available with regard to the number of persons suffering with Parkinson's disease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42944/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive, HSE, for direct reply to the Deputy.

  Question No. 394 withdrawn.

Hospital Deaths

 395. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the CEO of West-North West Hospital Group Saolta has responded to persons (details supplied) on the loss of their baby; if these persons can view their file; when the persons will have the details of the completed review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42950/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I would like to extend my condolences to the family concerned.

  With regard to the specific information sought by the Deputy, as this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to the Deputy directly.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Coverage

 396. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if haemochromatosis will be added to the list of long-term illnesses; and if not, the reason therefore. [42960/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The LTI Scheme was established under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended). The conditions covered by the LTI are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of Thalidomide. Under the LTI Scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge.

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Scheme.

Question No. 397 answered with Question No. 276.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

 398. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42974/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and since then, successive Governments have emphasised Ireland’s strong commitment to proceed to ratification as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are met. This Government remains committed to ratification of the Convention. Before the State can ratify the Convention however, enactment of new legislation and amendment of existing legislation is required to ensure obligations will be met upon entry into force for Ireland. The previous Government published a Roadmap in October 2015, which sets out the legislative measures needed to meet those requirements, along with declarations and reservations to be entered by Ireland on ratification.

Considerable progress has already been made to overcome the remaining legislative barriers to Ireland's ratification of the Convention. The major issue at this stage is in relation to deprivation of liberty – in the case of persons in nursing homes for example, whose capacity to consent may be in doubt. This is a sensitive and important issue and we must get it right. Unfortunately, it is taking longer than expected to develop a proposal that is constitutionally sound and operationally effective and reasonable. This work is being led by the Department of Justice and Equality with the assistance of the Department of Health.

National Children's Hospital Status

 399. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the progress on the construction of the national children's hospital, including changes to the overall cost estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42981/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Following the Government’s April 2017 decision to give the green light for the new children's hospital project construction investment, detailed discussions with the preferred tenderer and the hundreds of specialists who are part of the construction team were concluded over the summer period. The construction contract for the building of the main children’s hospital and the Paediatric Outpatients and Urgent Care Centres contract were signed in August. The new children’s hospital will be completed by the middle of 2022. The Paediatric Outpatients and Urgent Care Centre at Connolly will open in 2019 followed by the second one at Tallaght in 2020 in advance of the opening of the main hospital in 2022. Site preparatory work has continued throughout the year and the construction phase of the project has now commenced with excavation work on the main site underway. The capital cost of the design, build and equipment programme for which the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, NPHDB, is responsible, is €983 million, of which €916 million is Exchequer capital and €67 million is to be funded through commercial and philanthropy sources.

The capital project to build the new children’s hospital and satellite centres will only provide buildings. The overall programme to deliver the new Children’s Hospital entails both a complex merger of three different voluntary hospitals and a new build. A major programme of work is underway focused on transformative service change to merge three separate hospitals while maintaining existing services, patient safety and quality at three existing sites until transition is complete. On 29 August, the General Scheme for the Children’s Health Bill was published on the Department of Health’s website. The General Scheme has been referred to the Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health for pre-legislative scrutiny. This legislation will create a single statutory entity to run the new children’s hospital. The new body will take over the services of the existing three Dublin children’s hospitals and run the new children’s hospital. The Bill provides for the establishment of a single body to govern and manage paediatric services, as well as to facilitate planning for the transition of staff and services to the outpatient and urgent care centres which will open several years ahead of the new children’s hospital opening. It will also support the organisation of the clinical and non-clinical services in an integrated manner across the existing sites before the move to the new facilities.

This new hospital is an extraordinary opportunity to transform paediatric services in Ireland by bringing together patients and staff from across the three existing children’s hospitals into a single organisation as the national tertiary paediatric service with the facilities and necessary status to take on a leadership role nationally in relation to paediatric healthcare and as an international player in paediatric research and innovation..

Generic Drugs Substitution

 400. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the timeframe for the publication and implementation of a new national biosimilar policy in view of the fact that the public consultation for same has now closed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42994/17]

 402. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on the introduction of prescribing quotas for biosimilars and gain share schemes for hospitals to increase usage of biosimilars, as recommended by leading biosimilar manufacturers; the measures which have been introduced to increase their usage; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43000/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 400 and 402 together.

Medicines play a vital role in improving the overall health of Irish patients. Securing access to new and innovative medicines, in a timely manner, is a key objective of the Irish health service. However, the challenge is to deliver this objective in an affordable and sustainable way.

To this end, the IPHA Agreement included a specific provision in regards to biosimilar medicines whereby biological medicines receive an automatic reduction of 30% when a biosimilar equivalent comes to the market. The HSE included a savings target of €148 million in the National Service Plan 2017 for drug-related savings arising from the agreement and the launch of a biosimilar for Embrel in 2016.

The National Biosimilar Medicines Policy will aim to better position Ireland to benefit from current and future biosimilar medicines. The primary objective of the policy will be to increase biosimilar use in Ireland, by creating a robust framework in which biologicals and biosimilars can be safely, cost-effectively and confidently used in the health service.

The public consultation for this policy was closed on 29 September, and my officials are currently examining the 30 responses in depth.

Having performed research on international best practice as part of the policy development process, my Department will now begin the developing an appropriate policy framework to increase the usage of biosimilar medicines in Ireland. This will include an examination of the initiatives outlined by the Deputy.

I expect this policy to be published in early 2018. .

Generic Drugs Substitution

 401. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he has satisfied himself with the level of uptake of biosimilars here; the percentage usage and or market share of each biosimilar available here relative to its biologic equivalent; if not, the reason this data is not tracked; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42999/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The HSE has statutory responsibility for the operation and the administration of the community drug schemes, therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 402 answered with Question No. 400.

Medical Card Administration

 403. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if medical card applicants can receive medical cover from the date on which their application was received rather than the date of issue; if not, if he will adopt this change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43009/17]

: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Medical card cover starts from the date the medical card is issued. It should be noted that new applications received for medical card and GP visit card eligibility where the application does not require additional material or information to enable a comprehensive eligibility assessment are processed within 15 working days.

  There are no plans at present to change this policy.


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