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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 122 - 134
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Tobacco Control Measures
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Voluntary Sector Funding
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Medical Aids and Appliances Applications
 Header Item Water Fluoridation
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Symphysiotomy Report

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 122 - 134

Home Help Service Provision

 122. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if further home help hours will be allocated in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if he will expedite a response as a matter of urgency [54823/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Tobacco Control Measures

 123. 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 the reason tar levels are not prominently displayed on rolling tobacco; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54827/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The 2001 Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC) relates to the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products in the EU. This directive sets out the provision that the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide (TNCO) yields of cigarettes shall be printed on cigarette packs. While all tobacco products must include health warnings, the provision relating to the TNCO yields relates to cigarette packs only. The Tobacco Directive was transposed into Irish law by S.I. No. 425/2003 - European Communities (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco Products) Regulations 2003.

The European Commission has undertaken a public consultation in relation to this Directive in order to ascertain whether the existing Directive is adequately functioning in view of new international, scientific and market developments in the last decade. The display of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels is one of the issues being considered in the context of the revision of the Directive by the European Commission. It is anticipated that the Commission will publish a legislative proposal in relation to the revision of the Directive in the near future. Following the publication Ireland will play a significant role in progressing the revision of the Directive with other Member States during Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union commencing in January, 2013.

Medical Card Applications

 124. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when a person (details supplied) in County Louth may expect a decision on an application for a medical card. [54833/12]

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.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 125. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on a hospital appointment [54834/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Improving access to outpatient services is the next priority for the Government. Building on work already undertaken by the HSE, the NTPF has now taken over the reporting of outpatient waiting time data. The collation and analysis of outpatient waiting time data in a standardised format will reveal the distribution of long waiters across all hospitals. In the first instance, this will allow the SDU and NTPF to target their resources towards those patients who are waiting longest and ensure that they are seen and assessed. A maximum waiting time target has now been set of 12 months for a first time outpatient appointment by 30 November 2013.

In parallel with reducing the numbers of longest waiters, the SDU will also work with the HSE Clinical Programmes to reform the structure, organisation and delivery of outpatient services to ensure that the right patient is seen and assessed by the right health professional at the right time. Should the patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and hospital involved. In relation to the specific query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Card Applications

 126. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will approve and expedite a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54835/12]

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.

Home Help Service Provision

 127. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding home help in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54840/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 128. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Question No. 760 of 19 July 2012, if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny with a view to granting an early hospital appointment [54841/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Improving access to outpatient services is the next priority for the Government. Building on work already undertaken by the HSE, the NTPF has now taken over the reporting of outpatient waiting time data. The collation and analysis of outpatient waiting time data in a standardised format will reveal the distribution of long waiters across all hospitals. In the first instance, this will allow the SDU and NTPF to target their resources towards those patients who are waiting longest and ensure that they are seen and assessed. A maximum waiting time target has now been set of 12 months for a first time outpatient appointment by 30 November 2013.

In parallel with reducing the numbers of longest waiters, the SDU will also work with the HSE Clinical Programmes to reform the structure, organisation and delivery of outpatient services to ensure that the right patient is seen and assessed by the right health professional at the right time. Should the patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and hospital involved. In relation to the specific query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Voluntary Sector Funding

 129. 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 if he will support the Neurological Alliance of Ireland 2013 in order to protect the 700,000 people and their families [54847/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI) is a national umbrella organisation for voluntary groups, professionals and interested parties representing the views and concerns of those whose lives are affected by neurological conditions. The majority of member groups of the NAI receive funding from the Health Service Executive (HSE). Funding is provided in respect of both operational expenses and service provision. Organisational expenses, funded by the HSE for individual organisations, may include the costs of Chief Executive Officers, administration staff, central office costs etc. In addition, organisations are funded to provide services to people with disabilities, including the provision of information and support to people with disabilities, the provision of information and expertise to health care professional working with individuals with particular conditions and, in some cases, the provision of residential, day, respite and all multidisciplinary supports. Total funding from the HSE to member organisations of the NAI is in excess of €200m per annum. The funding level to be provided to member groups of the NAI in 2013 will be decided following the outcome of the HSE service planning process for 2013.

Hospital Services

 130. 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 consider providing additional staff and resources and roll out the interim community intervention team pilot scheme to all of County Kerry and support early discharges from Kerry General Hospital (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54867/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The funding pressures now being experienced in the health services mean that the acute sector must reduce its costs in order to deliver the agreed level of activity within the resources available to it. This means that we must concentrate on maximising efficiency and getting the best possible services for patients from the budgets available to us. In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service issues they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Aids and Appliances Applications

 131. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if a hearing device will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54873/12]

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.

Water Fluoridation

 132. 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 if a cost benefit analysis has been undertaken with regard to the fluoridation of water, and in the context of the banning of this practise in other countries, the reason it is continuing here [54893/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Water fluoridation is one of the most widely studied public health policy initiatives in the world. Studies indicate that the health benefits of water fluoridation outweigh its costs. To date there has been a significant reduction in the proportions of decayed, missing and filled teeth of people living in areas supplied by fluoridated drinking water in Ireland when compared to those in non-fluoridated areas. The cost of fluoridation was €3.86 million in 2011. While my Department has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis on this policy, the Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, which monitors new and emerging issues on fluoride and its effects on health, advises that water fluoridation 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.

Medical Card Applications

 133. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will expedite an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54898/12]

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.

Symphysiotomy Report

 134. 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 time frame for the publication of the Walsh Report; the reasons for the excessive delay in publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54900/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As the Deputy is aware, Professor Oonagh Walsh, independent researcher was commissioned by the Chief Medical Officer in my Department to draft a report in relation to the practice of symphysiotomy in Ireland.

The Report was conducted in two stages. The first stage is an independent academic research report, which is based on an analysis of published medical reports and research. The draft report contains information about how frequently symphysiotomy was carried out in Ireland and compares rates with other countries. The researcher experienced unforeseen difficulties in accessing information sources and as a result, submitted the first stage of the report behind schedule in late January 2012. The researcher informed my Department that this was due primarily to the challenges with accessing historical data from a time when records on the procedure were not routinely kept. The second stage in the research process, involved a consultation process on the draft report involving patient groups, health professionals and in particular the women who have undergone symphysiotomy. The researcher is currently finalising the report based on the consultation and it is also planned to have a peer review process. It is hoped that the report will be published early in 2013.


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