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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 568-589
 Header Item General Practitioner Services
 Header Item General Medical Services Scheme Administration
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Capital Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Home Care Packages
 Header Item Water Fluoridation
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Health Services Provision

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 568-589

General Practitioner Services

 568. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans to roll out free general practitioner care for all by 2015; the way it will be funded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53749/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Programme for Government commits to reforming the current public health system by introducing Universal Health Insurance with equal access to care for all. As part of this, the Government is committed to introducing, on a phased basis, GP care without fees within its first term of office. Primary legislation is required to give effect to Government commitment to introduce a universal GP service without fees. Legislation to allow the Minister for Health to make regulations to extend access to GP services without fees to persons with prescribed illnesses is currently being drafted by the Office of the Attorney General and the Department and it will be published shortly. Implementation dates and application details will be announced in due course. An annual budget of €15 million was provided for the first phase of the roll out of GP care without fees.

General Medical Services Scheme Administration

 569. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the progress that has been made on advancing the commitment in the Health Service Executive Service Plan 2012; if he will enhance access to psychotherapy and counselling services for those eligible for the GMS; the level of funding set aside in the health budget for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53751/12]

 575. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the progress that has been made on advancing the commitment in the Health Service Executive Service Plan 2012; if he will enhance access to psychotherapy and counselling service for those eligible for the GMS; the level of funding set aside in the health budget for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 

 579. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the way psychotherapists apply to provide subsidised therapy to patients eligible for the medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53823/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I propose to take Questions Nos. 569, 575 and 579 together.

  In its National Service Plan (NSP) for 2012, the HSE prioritised three initiatives from the special allocation of €35m provided in Budget 2012 for Mental Health to implement the objectives of the Programme for Government, to progress the implementation of A Vision for Change and among other things to provide access to counselling and psychotherapy for those with mental health problems who are eligible under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme in Primary Care. In this context, the NSP 2012 provides for the replication nationally of the model operational in the HSE's North East Area, managed by the National Counselling Service (NCS), as a way of meeting the requirement to improve access to psychological therapies in Primary Care. The cost of this extended service has been estimated at €5 million annually.

  To implement the model nationally, an additional Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) counsellor will be allocated to each of the 10 National Counselling Services. These counsellors will work within the NCS, managing the referral process, to ensure that an appropriate referral and counselling match is provided to meet the needs of individuals. The 10 posts were advertised recently for a national panel. Interviews have now been completed and the results will be issued shortly. The start dates for these posts are expected to be in early 2013 to allow for the process of checking references etc.

  The actual counselling services required will be procured through the two employment agencies that hold the existing national contracts with the HSE and counsellors will be recruited through a two stage process. The employment agencies will select counsellors using their own selection process with reference to qualifications and identify them as suitable for the service. The HSE will then quality assure the proposed counsellors in terms of professional skills and knowledge prior to entering into the service. Discussions with the contracted agencies have already begun on these points. It is expected that this new service will begin to be rolled out early next year when the 10 coordinator counsellors are in place. With regard to the level of funding for mental health next year, this is being considered as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2013 which is currently underway.

Home Help Service Provision

 570. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide an update on the current position of Health Service Executive and SIPTU engagement regarding home help contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53752/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly On 29 June 2012, the Labour Court recommended that the HSE and SIPTU should engage in relation to matters concerning home help contracts and that in the event that there are any outstanding issues, they may be referred back to the Court. The HSE engaged with SIPTU concerning the recommendation and advised that as part of the process it would be undertaking an information-gathering exercise to ascertain the up-to-date position regarding the nature of the contracts held by home helps and the hours worked under such contracts. This exercise is currently at an advanced stage.

Having met with the parties again on 15 October 2012, the Labour Court recommended that they should re-engage under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). The parties met under the auspices of the LRC on 19th November. Management gave a commitment to the LRC that it would be undertaking an immediate comprehensive examination of the home help service and would have resultant proposals finalised by mid-January. It would not be appropriate for me, as Minister, to comment further given that the issues are being addressed through the State's industrial relations machinery.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

 571. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53766/12]

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

Services for People with Disabilities

 572. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will ensure that there are no further cuts in funding for Prosper Fingal in view of the vital services they provide to persons with intellectual disabilities; if his attention has been drawn to the increase in demand for services provided by Prosper Fingal; his policy regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53767/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch Pending completion of the national estimates, budgetary and service planning process for 2013 it is not possible to predict the service levels to be provided at a national level, or through individual agencies such as Prosper Fingal, next year.

Medical Card Applications

 573. Deputy Olivia Mitchell Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will expedite the medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53775/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Health Services Provision

 574. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will roll out nationally the Ulysses pain management programme that began in Tallaght hospital, Dublin, in 2002 and has helped dramatically improve the lives of persons with this condition; if he will take into consideration the latest figures that claim that chronic pain costs the economy millions of euro every year in treatment costs and lost productivity; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53813/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As regards to this particular issue, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in this matter.

  Question No. 575 answered with Question No. 569.

Home Help Service Provision

 576. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of home help staff employed directly by the Health Service Executive to provide home help services in County Louth in 2011 and 2012; the average hourly rate paid to home helps in the county who work directly for the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53820/12]

 577. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide a breakdown in terms of hours allocated to the home help service in County Louth to the Health Service Executive public provider compared to private sector providers; the sum paid to private and voluntary home help care providers in County Louth in 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53821/12]

 578. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide a breakdown in terms of hours allocated to the home help service nationally in terms of the Health Service Executive public provider compared to private sector providers; the sum paid by the HSE to private and voluntary home help care providers across the State in 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53822/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I propose to take Questions Nos. 576 to 578, inclusive, together.

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

  Question No. 579 answered with Question No. 569.

Capital Programme Expenditure

 580. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly in respect of the October Exchequer returns, the reason capital spending for his Department was €32 million below profile for this period; his plans to ensure that the full capital spending is implemented before the end of the year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53832/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly My Department's capital expenditure was not under profile by €32m at the end of October 2012. However the HSE's net capital expenditure was under profile by €23m at end October 2012. It is assumed that the reference to €32m is a typographical error. At that time, the HSE stated that while capital expenditure was under profile, the Executive expected that this expenditure would increase by year end as was the case in previous years. Notwithstanding this, it is expected that there will be some savings on capital expenditure at year end which will be used to mitigate excess current expenditure, on a once off basis, in 2012.

Vaccination Programme

 581. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding the commitment he gave to the members of Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder that a paper would be put to Government urgently which would propose a package of supports to be put in place for those affected by the increased incidence of narcolepsy in children and adolescents here from 2009, connected to vaccination with Pandemrix; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53842/12]

 583. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding narcolepsy. [53854/12]

 588. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the date on which he plans to present the paper outlining the package of supports being put in place for those affected by Narcolepsy associated with the vaccine Pandemrix; the reason for the delay in the presentation of the paper prior to Dáil Éireann summer recess, again in September 2012 and once again this October; when will he re-establish communication with SOUND; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53893/12]

 590. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when will a proposal be put to Dáil Éireann setting out a package of supports for those who developed narcolepsy as a result of vaccination with Pandemrix; the reason for the delay in bringing the proposal to Dáil Éireann and when will he re-establish meaningful contact with SOUND  [53897/12]

 628. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when the paper outlining details of a proposed package of supports for sufferers of narcolepsy will be published  [54119/12]

 667. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when he hopes to announce the support the State will be providing to those children who have been identified by the final report of the National Narcolepsy Study Steering Committee as being adversely affected by the incidence of narcolepsy as a result of a side effect of the Pandemrix vaccine administered for the H1N1 flu virus, otherwise known as Swine 'Flu, particularly as the announcement of supports has been delayed on account of a number of factors; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54449/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 581, 583, 588, 590, 628 and 667 together.

I am committed to bringing a Memorandum to Government setting out the full response to the issue. My Department is considering all possible supports which may need to be put in place for those affected. Any such supports require my approval and the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. A further meeting with representatives from SOUND will be arranged when the matter has been concluded. The Health Service Executive continues to provide a range of supports and services to those affected by narcolepsy following pandemic vaccination. The Department of Education and Skills also provides appropriate educational supports at all levels of education.

Services for People with Disabilities

 582. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his views on correspondence (details supplied) and if he will respond to the issues highlighted  [53853/12]

 589. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when the proposed independent inspectors of voluntary and private sector intellectual disability services in this country will commence; when he will publish new regulations on standards regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53894/12]

 615. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason there are no independent inspections of private or voluntary intellectual disability services here  [53997/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I propose to take Questions Nos. 582, 589 and 615 together.

The legislative framework for the registration and inspection of residential services for people with disabilities is provided for by the Health Act 2007. The Act has not yet been commenced in respect of residential services for people with disabilities, consequently the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has, at present, no remit in relation to inspecting these services. The Government is however, committed to ensuring that vulnerable people with disabilities in residential services are safeguarded and protected, and that their quality of life is enhanced. With this in mind, the current Programme for Government commits to mandatory standards for this sector and inspection of services by HIQA.

HIQA have developed and published draft National Standards for Residential Centres for People with Disabilities which outline what is expected of a provider of services and what a person with a disability, his or her family, and the public can expect to receive from residential care services. A public consultation process has recently been completed by HIQA on the draft standards document and it is now in the process of being finalised and submitted to the Board of the Authority. The final agreed standards will then be forwarded to my Department for approval with an anticipated publication date in January 2013. It is expected that the new regulatory system which will allow for a robust registration and inspection of Residential Centres should be up and running by mid 2013. Work is also continuing in my Department on both the 'Registration and Inspection' regulations and the 'Care and Welfare' regulations required to bring the standards into law. These are being developed taking into account the lessons learned from similar regulations for nursing homes.

My Department has been in active engagement with HIQA on the level of resources and staffing needed. The 10 posts which will enable the Authority commence preparatory work for the registration and inspection regime have already been approved. My Department is continuing discussions with HIQA to determine the longer term staffing and resource requirements and these will be considered further in the context of the Department's 2013 estimates. While the HIQA standards have yet to be put on a statutory footing, it is worth noting that compliance with the HIQA standards is already included in the Service Level Arrangements between the HSE and service providers in the disability sector.

  Question No. 583 answered with Question No. 581.

Home Care Packages

 584. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide the number of tenders to date, for home care projects; the estimated numbers for next year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53863/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The Health Service Executive earlier this year concluded a Procurement Framework for the provision of certain services in connection with Home Care Package provision. It is intended that this HSE tender will be reviewed around mid 2013. As the information sought by the Deputy relates to a service matter, your question has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Water Fluoridation

 585. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he has given consideration to studies and reports regarding the fluoridation of water supplies and the way the fluoridation of water here differs from other countries; if he has a view or recommendation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53865/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Water fluoridation and the use of appropriate fluorides is a major plank of public health policy in Ireland in the prevention and management of tooth decay. In 2002 the Forum on Fluoridation, which was established to review this policy, concluded that the fluoridation of public piped water supplies should continue as a public health measure. The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, established in 2004, monitors new and emerging issues on fluoride and its effects on health and related matters. It advises that the balance of scientific evidence worldwide confirms that water fluoridation, at the optimal level, does not cause any ill effects and is the safest and most cost effective method of protecting the oral health of the population.

Other countries which have water fluoridation schemes include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Water fluoridation is less common in Europe, where fluoridated salt is often available as an alternative, although some populations are supplied with naturally fluoridated public water.

Health Services Provision

 586. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if specific services will be made available to a child (details supplied) in County Cork at the earliest date possible in view of the necessity and substantial benefit of early intervention. [53869/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services Provision

 587. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly in relation to services and supports for persons with neurological conditions, if he will take action along the lines identified by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland to continue to invest in the Health Service Executive clinical programmes in stroke, epilepsy, neurology and rehabilitation in 2013; if he will protect funding in 2013 for not for profit organisations on which so many persons with neurological conditions are dependent for support, specialist rehabilitation and respite; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53881/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The HSE Clinical Programmes Directorate are currently developing appropriate models of care to ensure the delivery of safe and effective services across epilepsy, stroke services and neurology services. This programme of work is ongoing and will inform the most appropriate structure, staffing and organisation of services. With regard to the detailed information sought by the Deputy, as they are service matters, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

  Question No. 588 answered with Question No. 581.

  Question No. 589 answered with Question No. 582.


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