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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 232-246
 Header Item Medical Aids and Appliances Provision
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Ambulance Service Provision
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Hospital Staff Issues
 Header Item Hospital Staff Issues
 Header Item Medicinal Products Expenditure
 Header Item Mental Health Services Report
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Health Promotion Issues
 Header Item Hospital Consultants Remuneration
 Header Item Health Services Allowances
 Header Item General Practitioner Services
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 232-246

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

 232. Deputy Catherine Byrne Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the policy that operates in regard to the cochlear implantation programme based in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, which is funded by his Department; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the professionals working on this programme are actively encouraging parents not to learn Irish sign language and believe that learning Irish sign language would hinder the ability of the children to learn speech or lip reading, research proves that this belief is unfounded; his views on the ethical issues surrounding the cochlear programme and on the kind of support that underpins the implantation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55766/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In relation to the specific matter which is the subject of the Deputy's query, as this is a service issue it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Vaccination Programme

 233. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will consider the introduction of the MenB vaccine into the immunisation schedule when licensed early in the new year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55789/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Meningococcal B vaccine has received a positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) but it is not yet licensed for use. The CHMP’s opinion will now be sent to the European Commission for the granting of a marketing authorisation.

The immunisation programme in Ireland is based on the advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).NIAC is a committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland comprising of experts in a number of specialties including infectious diseases, paediatrics and public health. The committee's recommendations are informed by public health advice, international best practice and by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE).

There is no doubt about the role that vaccines have played in improving the health of children. The development of new vaccines is very welcome. A Health Technology Assessment which includes a cost benefit analysis is carried out prior to any new vaccine being considered. This has a vital role in ensuring that care technologies, including vaccines, are used in a manner appropriate to their ability to maximise health gain and achieve value for money.

Should NIAC advice recommend the inclusion of a new vaccine into the primary childhood immunisation programme in Ireland, my Department, in association with the National Immunisation Office will examine the issue. If it is subsequently decided that a vaccine should be included in the vaccination programme, the Health Service Executive, through the National Immunisation Office, initiates the procurement process.

Ambulance Service Provision

 234. 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 number of emergency calls that the Health Service Executive ambulance service in Dublin north east region received in the years 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55794/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) provides emergency pre-hospital care and emergency patient transport. When a 999 ambulance call is received, the caller is connected with the ambulance command and control centre for that area. The details of the call are recorded on a Computer Aided Dispatch System (CAD), with Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch (AMPDS).

The AMPDS system is designed to triage a call, so that the most appropriate resource is dispatched to the patient. The system allows an ambulance to be dispatched while the caller is still providing details of the patient's condition. The controller can also provide pre-arrival instructions to the caller, to allow initial medical assistance to be available and administered to the patient without delay.

In all cases, in line with the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council Emergency Priority Dispatch Standard, the nearest available ambulance is tasked to the highest priority incident. The highest priority incidents are ECHO (life-threatening cardiac emergency) and DELTA (life-threatening non-cardiac emergency). As the Deputy's query relates to service matters, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Hospital Services

 235. 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 his plans to roll out the Ulysses Pain Management Programme at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55796/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In relation to the specific matter raised by the Deputy, as this is a service issue it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Staff Issues

 236. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 1136 of 6 November 2012, if a breakdown for the agency and overtime usage across all disciplines in the Louth Meath Hospital Group exists; when the breakdown was compiled; and if he will supply such a breakdown. [55808/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly A detailed breakdown of agency and overtime useage in a particular service area is a matter for the Health Service Executive, and as such, the Deputy's enquiry has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Staff Issues

 237. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his views on appointing a paediatric urologist consultant to Temple Street Children's Hospital Dublin; when he expects this role to be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55821/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medicinal Products Expenditure

 238. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if anti-epilepsy drugs will be exempt from generic substitution in the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55841/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill, the Irish Medicines Board has statutory responsibility for establishing and publishing a List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products.

  In deciding whether to add a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products, the Board must be satisfied that each medicinal product which falls within the group:

   (a) has the same qualitative and quantitative composition in each of its active substances as each of the other medicinal products which fall within the group;

  (b) is in the same pharmaceutical form as, or in a pharmaceutical form that is appropriate for substitution for, each of the other products in the group; and

   (c) has the same route of administration as each of the other medicinal products which fall within the group.

  In addition, the Bill provides that the Board is not permitted to add a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products where, for example, any of the medicinal products cannot be safely substituted for any one or more of the other medicinal products in the group. To further enhance the patient safety aspect of generic substitution, Section 13 of the Bill allows a prescriber to indicate on a prescription that a branded interchangeable medicinal product should, for clinical reasons, not be substituted.

  I am satisfied that these provisions address the concerns raised by the Deputy.

  It is important to point out that generic medicines must meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the originator medicine. All of the generic medicines on the Irish market are required to be properly licensed and meet the requirements of the Irish Medicines Board.

The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 was published on the 13th of July 2012. The Bill completed its passage through the Seanad on Wednesday, the 19th   of September, and is currently continuing its passage through the Dáil. An Implementation Group on Generic Substitution and Reference Pricing has been established and it held its inaugural meeting on the 9th of August 2012. The Group met with the Irish Epilepsy Association, amongst others, on the 20th of November as part of its stakeholder meetings.

Mental Health Services Report

 239. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the procedure for hospitals dealing with patients with mental health issues and his views on whether advice and opinions of the patients family are taken into account with regard to the way the patient is treated and their aftercare. [55852/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch A Vision for Change recognises the vital role played by family members in the recovery process in the area of mental health and this is accepted and supported by mental health professionals. As well as listening more closely to service users, our mental health services have developed a number of initiatives to enhance the engagement with family members in the treatment process. Involvement of family in a patient’s treatment and care is normally with the patient’s consent.   

  The issue of confidentiality is central to the doctor patient relationship and is a vital component in building trust. Respecting the autonomy of the service user and meeting the information needs of family members is a central consideration in mental health treatment plans. Where there is a risk of harm to the patient or others, the Medical Council Code of Ethics allows doctors to breach confidence in the interests of preventing harm. The Mental Health Commission has also issued guidelines encouraging the involvement of family where appropriate in respect of admission to, treatment and discharge from Approved Centres.   

  It is recognised that where patients involve their families in their care and treatment planning, a better outcome for the patient is likely and I would encourage such involvement where possible.    

Medical Card Applications

 240. 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. [55854/12]

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 Promotion Issues

 241. 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 he has considered implementing a tax on fast food outlets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55860/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Minister set up a Special Action Group on Obesity to examine and progress a number of issues to address the problem of obesity and its health implications. The Group is concentrating on a range of measures including actions such as: calorie posting in restaurants, nutritional labelling, marketing of food and drink to children, the supply of healthy food products in vending machines, the detection and treatment of obesity, healthy eating guidelines and the promotion of physical activity.

A tax on fast-food outlets is not currently being considered.

Hospital Consultants Remuneration

 242. 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 doctors pay (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55862/12]

 243. 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 he will respond to the following query regarding oncology consultants (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55863/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 242 and 243 together.

Ongoing reform and increased efficiency in service delivery is essential. It is imperative that consultants, given their roles within the health system, lead this process. The measures agreed between health service management and the consultant representative bodies at the Labour Relations Commission in September will allow for very significant reforms in how health and specifically consultant services are delivered and will ultimately lead to improved outcomes for users of the services.

In September 2012 I announced that, henceforth, the appointment of new consultants will be made at a new entry level pay rate, significantly reduced from the current starting level. Therefore, doctors who have been successful at interview after 1 October are being appointed at 30% reduced salary rates. Current consultants' pay is protected under the Croke Park Agreement and is not affected by the introduction of the lower rates.

It is essential that salary levels in the public service, and particularly those attaching to the most highly paid positions, are as far as possible brought into line with those in comparable countries. It is not sustainable, in the light of the State's serious financial difficulties, to continue to recruit at the previous rates. If we are to continue to provide consultant-level career opportunities for doctors and, subject to the limitations on available resources, to replace consultants who retire and where possible expand overall capacity, this can only happen on the basis of a lower-cost model.

Health Services Allowances

 244. 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 positions regarding allowances in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55864/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

General Practitioner Services

 245. 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 there are any plans to change the current arrangement whereby general practitioners in training need to work 120 hours per year in out of hours duty; the reason GPs have been singled out to undergo this measure and work for free; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55865/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Postgraduate Training Committee of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) has responsibility for the promotion and maintenance of standards of General Practice training in Ireland. The provision that GP Trainees experience a minimum of 120 hours of out-of-hours work under the supervision of a nominated trainer is contained in the ICGP's "Criteria for Postgraduate Training in General Practice 2004". Changes to the criteria document and to the standards of General Practice training in Ireland can be made only by the ICGP, under the guidance of its Assessors’ Group. I have been advised by the HSE that it is not aware of any plans by the ICGP to change the duration of the out-of-hours experience required by GP Trainees.

In September 2012, the Government approved the outcome of the review of allowances by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Following this review, the GP Trainees allowance was approved for continued payment to existing and new beneficiaries but will be subject to review or modification.

The review process had provided that sanction for payment of allowances to new beneficiaries was withdrawn with effect from 31 January 2012. For allowances that have subsequently been sanctioned following the review, arrangements have been made for the restoration of the payment of such allowances with effect from 1 February 2012.

Home Help Service Provision

 246. 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 if he has data which is more recent that September 2012 in relation to the number of home help hours being supplied to persons in Couunty louth and if so if he will supply those figures. [55893/12]

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.


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