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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 455-471
 Header Item Home Care Packages
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Medicinal Products Expenditure
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Registration of Nurses
 Header Item Health Professions Admission Test Administration
 Header Item HSE Properties
 Header Item Care of the Elderly
 Header Item Primary Care Centres Provision
 Header Item Hospital Bed Data
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Irish Blood Transfusion Service
 Header Item Medical Aids and Appliances Applications
 Header Item Medical Card Applications

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 455-471

Home Care Packages

 455. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will review the provision of home care assistance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Cork City; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55112/12]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities

 456. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding disability services north east and disability services south west, both co-funded by the Health Service Executive and FÁS; if it is the case that disability services in these areas are being put out to tender; the reason for same; the consultation that has taken place with service providers across both areas or with Rehab nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55123/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The Deputy may be referring to training programmes for people with disabilities. The Health Service Executive (HSE) funds Rehabilitative (lifeskills) training, while Vocational Training programmes are funded by FÁS. Rehabilitative training is provided through a number of specialist disability service providers, including the National Learning Network, which is a member of the Rehab Group. The HSE in the north east and south west have no immediate plans to put Rehabilitative Training programmes out to tender, however a commitment to introduce a standardised framework to commission services from both public and non-public providers is contained in Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012 - 2015 and is also recommended in the Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services in Ireland (2012). If the Deputy has a more specific query in mind I will arrange to have a response issued to him on receipt of the relevant details.

Medicinal Products Expenditure

 457. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding the pricing of medicine (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55131/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White In recent years, a number of changes to the pricing and reimbursement system have been successfully introduced in Ireland. These have resulted in reductions in the prices of thousands of medicines. Reductions in the prices of medicines and mark-ups have not been passed on to private patients by some pharmacists. The Code of Conduct for Pharmacists issued by the pharmacy regulator (the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland) requires pharmacists, amongst other things, to provide honest, relevant, accurate, current and appropriate information to patients regarding the nature, cost, value and benefit of medicines, health-related products and services provided by them. Every pharmacist has an obligation to comply in full with the statutory Code of Conduct. Patients have every right to ask a pharmacist the reasons for the price they are being charged and if dissatisfied can, if they so choose, transfer their custom to an alternative pharmacy. Expenditure on prescribed medicines is also eligible for tax relief.

Health Services Provision

 458. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will review the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55133/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch Decisions to transfer patients are made by treating clinicians if it is determined that the patient's condition warrants such a transfer. As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

 459. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if it will become compulsory for inspections of private and voluntary intellectual disability facilities to be carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55147/12]

 473. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he is committed to having the publication of the standards and new system of Inspection of Private and Voluntary Intellectual Disability Services published by January 2013; if he will ensure that the inspections will be independent and of a high standard and that no further delays will occur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55242/12]

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. 459 and 473 together.

This Government is 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 includes a specific commitment to put the draft standards developed by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) on a statutory footing and ensure that the services are inspected by HIQA. These draft standards 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 also been in active engagement with HIQA on the level of resources and staffing needed. 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.

Registration of Nurses

 460. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason An Bord Altranais has engaged a call centre in the United Kingdom to deal with queries on nurses' registration; the costs involved; the reason it was not possible to engage a call centre here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55148/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The information regarding Nurse Registration is a matter for The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (formerly An Board Altranais). I have forwarded your request to the Board for direct response.

  Question No. 461 answered with Question No. 448.

Health Professions Admission Test Administration

 462. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Question No. 638 of 13 November 2012, when a response will issue from the Health Service Executive [55169/12]

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 again been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

HSE Properties

 463. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Question No. 58 of 8 November 2012, when a response will issue from the Health Service Executive [55170/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I understand that officials in my Department have contacted the Health Service Executive on this matter and the HSE has informed my officials that they are in the process of preparing a response to the Deputy which should issue shortly. However, I have again arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Care of the Elderly

 464. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Question No. 53 of 8 November 2012, when a response will issue from the Health Service Executive [55171/12]

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 again been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Primary Care Centres Provision

 465. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Question No. 347 of 8 November 2012, when a response will issue from the Health Service Executive [55172/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I understand that the Health Service Executive replied to your parliamentary question no. 347 about the process for awarding the contract to develop a primary care centre in Balbriggan.

Hospital Bed Data

 466. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Question No. 79 of 8 November 2012, when a response will issue from the Health Service Executive [55173/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The HSE replied to Deputy Ferris on this matter on the 8th November 2012.

EU Directives

 467. 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 animal experimentation and EU Directives [55179/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes significantly strengthens the protection of animals still needed for research and safety testing. The Directive strongly promotes the principles of the three Rs (replacement of the use of animals to the greatest extent possible with alternative testing methods, refinement of scientific procedures to improve animal welfare and reduction in numbers of animals used). Significant changes in this regard are requirements to perform project evaluations including harm benefit analysis prior to authorisation of projects using animals and higher standards of care and accommodation. Many of the provisions set out in the Directive are mandatory. The Directive will be transposed into Irish law by year end and will take effect from 1 January, 2013. I would like to draw the attention of the Deputy to the comments of European Environment Commissioner Potocnik who has said that the European Union will, once the Directive is transposed, have the highest standards of experimental animal welfare in the world.

  The Safeguard Clauses set out in this Directive covers exceptional circumstances in which Member States may, on scientifically justifiable grounds, provisionally authorise applications for derogations relating to a number of restrictions set out in the Directive including authorisation of procedures involving severe pain, suffering or distress that is likely to be long lasting and cannot be ameliorated. Under Article 55(3), such exceptional provisional measures could, for example, be required to deal with an unexpected outbreak of a life threatening or debilitating clinical condition in humans or an outbreak of an highly infectious pathogenic disease. The Safeguard Clauses would also allow for emergency measures in the event of a natural disaster that resulted in, for example, the contamination of land and livestock. It will only be possible to introduce any such provisional measure by way of Ministerial Order after consultation with the Irish Medicines Board (the Competent Authority for the purposes of the Directive) and any such measure will be subject to EU Member State and Commission scrutiny and approval. The European Commission, assisted by an Advisory Committee (composed of Member State representatives and chaired by the Commission) must, subsequently, authorise or disallow any such provisional authorisation.

  It is clear from the Directive that the replacement, refinement and reduction of animal testing is at the core of this legislation and I strongly endorse this objective. Nevertheless, and even if difficult to foresee, it is my considered view that it is both reasonable and correct to make provision for exceptional emergency situations that might arise, if only to ensure that the necessary legislative tools are available to deal with such an eventuality. The Directive provides Member States with the legislative tools needed to respond in an effective way to such situations. Not to incorporate such tools in our transposition of the Directive might prove to be most regrettable if fate were to take a hand.

  My Department sought the views of the public and interested parties in July, 2009 on the proposed Directive. These views informed Ireland’s position as negotiations on the proposed Directive progressed at EU level. My Department again sought the views of the public and interested parties in October, 2011 after the adoption of the Directive. Officials of my Department have met with stakeholder groups including animal welfare groups in relation to the Directive's provisions. My Department has met with consultants of the Irish Anti Vivisection Society and with Research and Development establishments in this area. The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has also had meetings with stakeholders to inform them of the requirements which will apply from 1 January 2013 and has updated its website with relevant information.

  I appreciate the time and effort devoted by individuals and stakeholder groups in this regard. The submissions received in response to the first public consultation were particularly welcome as the Directive was still under discussion at that stage. The second public consultation, of necessity, had a different focus given that the Directive was already finalised at that stage. The responses to the second public consultation are, consequently, primarily focused on the nuts and bolts of the transposition process itself and are of particular assistance to the Department in this regard.

  On the matter of scrutiny of the Directive, in July 2009, my Department provided an information note to the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny on the then proposed Directive and indicated that the transposition of the Directive would be done by Statutory Instrument in order to ensure that this transposition would be implemented within the allowed timeframe. Failure to do so could delay the considerably enhanced protections the new Directive provides for animals - a circumstance which animal protection organisations would, quite correctly, take issue with. It could also result in EU infringement proceedings against the State during the forthcoming Irish Presidency of the European Union. I am sure the Deputy would agree that it is important to transpose the considerably enhanced protections afforded to animals in the Directive without delay. The Joint Committee, after consideration of the proposed Directive noted that the aim of the proposal is to improve the existing 1986 Directive. The Committee also recognised the scope allowed in the Directive for Member States to decide on practical transposition measures.

Home Help Service Provision

 468. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will review the decision to have the home help assistance removed from a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and, if he does not intend to do so, if he will ask for an assessment of the person's needs to be carried out to determine the assistance assistance they may need. [55188/12]

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.

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

 469. 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 the number of vacant positions on the Board of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service; the steps he is taking to fill these positions and the type of expertise he plans to bring to the board by such appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55202/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly There are 6 vacancies on the Board of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS). Members of the Board perform key roles in relation to the direction, leadership and corporate governance of the IBTS. Expressions of interest for Board membership were sought through the Public Appointments Service. Members of the Board have experience and expertise in one or more of the following areas: corporate governance, finance, haematology, scientific risk assessment, communication, human resources and marketing. I intend to appoint all members as quickly as possible.

Medical Aids and Appliances Applications

 470. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide figures, in tabular form, of the amount of money spent by the Health Service Executive on the provision of sleep apnoea machines in each of the past six years; the number of persons who have been provided with such sleep apnoea machines in each of the past six years; and using this information, if he will provide figures on the cost per patient for the provision of sleep apnoea machines in each of the past six years. [55230/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive is responsible for the provision of sleep apnoea machines. The HSE has therefore been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Medical Card Applications

 471. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his views on the delay with medical assessors when dealing with medical card applications; if he will expedite an application for a medical card in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55231/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I have asked the Health Service Executive for a report on the issue of delays as raised by the Deputy. I will revert to the Deputy on this matter as soon as possible. In relation to the individual application concerned, the Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.


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