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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 289-306
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Issues
 Header Item Hospital Complaints
 Header Item Primary Care Centres Provision
 Header Item HSE Funding
 Header Item Patient Transport Expenditure
 Header Item Medical Card Delays
 Header Item HSE Staff Remuneration
 Header Item National Lottery Funding Applications
 Header Item Health Services Staff Issues
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Home Help Service Eligibility
 Header Item National Positive Ageing Strategy Publication
 Header Item Hospital Services

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 76 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 289-306

Departmental Agencies Issues

 289. 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 the reason for the delay experienced by a person (details supplied) in attempting to register as a nurse with An Bord Altranais in view of the fact that the person has been attempting to register since 2012; if there is a backlog of cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57431/12]

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.

Hospital Complaints

 290. 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 his response to a complaint regarding the care of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if he has investigated this complaint; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57432/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy in this matter. With regard to specific complaints, a formal complaints policy exists, details of which are available on the HSE website: www.hse.ie. In addition, advice and instructions for making complaints about a service or an individual may be found at the website: www.healthcomplaints.ie. In accordance with this procedure, a complaint should be made in the first instance to the hospital in which the incident causing the complaint occurred. If an individual is not satisfied with the response from the hospital, a review can be sought from the HSE Director of Advocacy, Oak House, Millennium Park, Naas, Co. Kildare, or the Office of the Ombudsman, 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.

Primary Care Centres Provision

 291. 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 steps he has taken in the past six months to progress the development of the two new primary care centres in Coolock, Edemore, Raheny and Darndale, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57440/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Progress is being made in the delivery of primary care infrastructure. With regard to the PPP initiative for primary care infrastructure, the current position is that the HSE is engaging with the NDFA as required to progress the programme. The HSE is currently analysing the available sites in each location and engaging with the GPs in each location to determine their interest in participating in the primary care centre development. The HSE has commenced the procurement of design teams and technical advisors to progress the design and planning submissions for the primary care centre sites, and the preparation of the PPP procurement documents. Coolock and Darndale were announced as potential locations for primary care centres in the July 2012 PPP Stimulus Package. Up to 20 of the 35 locations announced will be offered to the market subject to a) agreement between the local GPs and the HSE on active local GP involvement in the centres and b) site suitability and availability.

The method and timescale for the delivery of primary care infrastructure is dependent on a number of factors; it is a dynamic process constantly evolving to take account of changing circumstances, including the feasibility of implementation.

There are always more construction projects than can be funded from the Exchequer's capital health care allocation. The Executive is required to prioritise infrastructure projects within its overall capital envelope taking into account the existing capital commitments and costs of completion over the period. Work is underway on the Executive's multi-annual Capital Plan 2013-2017. The draft Plan will be submitted to my Department in due course. My Department will then review the proposals and follow up with the HSE where further details may be required. The draft Capital Plan 2013-2017 will require my approval with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

HSE Funding

 292. 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 budget deficit for Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, at the end of each month to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57441/12]

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

Patient Transport Expenditure

 293. Deputy Liam Twomey Information on Liam Twomey Zoom on Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason a private ambulance was called to transfer a patient from Waterford Regional Hospital at a cost of €900, when a wheelchair taxi at a cost of €120 was satisfactory; the cost controls the VHI are implementing to control this unnecessary cost on VHI subscribers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57454/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As Minister for Health, I have no role in the day to day decisions of the private health insurance companies. VHI Healthcare provides benefit for ambulance transfers in certain specified circumstances. A clinical decision is taken in each individual case, a hospital clinician certifies on the claim form that it is medically necessary for the patient to be transported by ambulance and details the medical reason why such ambulance transportation is necessary. Ambulance benefit is payable to ambulance companies on receipt of a fully completed claim form.

The Deputy may wish to note that the VHI Special Investigation Unit works to ensure that instances of error or overcharging by healthcare providers are fully investigated and rectified and the Deputy may wish to pass on the details to the VHI for further investigation.

Medical Card Delays

 294. 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 the renewal of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57465/12]

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.

HSE Staff Remuneration

 295. Deputy David Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he is satisfied that all outstanding moneys have been paid to a retired Health Service Executive employee (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57466/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The payment of holiday pay is a matter for the Health Service Executive, and as such, the Deputy's enquiry has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

National Lottery Funding Applications

 296. 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 service for a resource centre (details supplied) in County Kerry will be funded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57475/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly My Department has received an application for funding from the 2012 National Lottery allocation from the organisation in question. This is one of a large number currently being assessed by my Department, and the Deputy will be informed of the outcome of the application as soon as a decision has been made.

  Questions Nos. 297 and 298 answered with Question No. 279.

Health Services Staff Issues

 299. 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 appoint additional psychologists to address the waiting lists for children with autism in County Kerry, particularly for children in the age bracket of six years and over who are waiting the longest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57507/12]

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.

EU Directives

 300. 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 in view of the implementation of the EU Directive 2010/63/EU in January 2013, the way he intends to implement 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; the way he will address the issue of animals subjected to severe pain, suffering and distress which a significant proportion of Irish animal experiments officially cause; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57514/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I can confirm that Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes will be transposed into Irish law during December and the new Directive, which will considerably strengthen the protection of animals still needed for research and safety testing, will take effect from 1 January, 2013.

Significant changes that are provided for in the transposition of this Directive include a requirement to perform detailed project evaluations prior to authorisation of projects using animals and higher standards of animal care, welfare and accommodation. The Directive will also play a significant role in minimising the number of animals used and requires that alternatives to animal testing be used where possible, whilst ensuring a level playing field for EU industry and enhancing the quality of research conducted in the EU.

The Directive also strongly promotes the principles of the three R’s (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). It should be noted that many of the provisions set out in Directive 2010/63/EU are mandatory. The European Environment Commissioner affirmed that the European Union will, once the Directive is transposed, have the highest standards of experimental animal welfare in the world.

In transposing the Directive I have decided not to transpose Article 42 which provides for a simplified administrative procedure for certain types of projects. My decision in this regard is based on my determination to ensure a high level of protection for all animals that still need to be used for scientific purposes. A simplified procedure along the lines of Article 42 would, in effect, have introduced a two-tiered system, one requiring full project authorisation and another which would undermine that authorisation system. As a consequence of my decision not to introduce any such simplified system all projects using animals for scientific purposes will be subject to the full project approval and authorisation requirements set out in the Directive.

The approval of projects and of key individuals involved in those projects and of the establishments where they are carried out will be a matter for the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) which I have designated as the Competent Authority (CA) for the purposes of the Directive. My decision to assign CA functions to the IMB takes into account the fact that replacement and refinement of experimental studies to minimise the use of animals is a central tenet of the Directive. This will require an up-to-date knowledge of such alternative methods and tests as well as the authority to require the use of such alternatives, where possible, by those currently using animals. This work will also require the employment of persons with veterinary expertise specialising in laboratory animal welfare to evaluate scientific projects and to oversee compliance with Directive requirements. Such specialists will also be expected to be able to offer detailed regulatory advice to those involved in the industry. The IMB has the relevant expertise in relation to both human and veterinary medicine to assist it in undertaking this regulatory work and in ensuring that the three R’s will remain central to this area of work in the years ahead.

I should also point out that any project involving severe pain or suffering will be automatically subject to a full retrospective assessment by the competent authority. It will also be open to the IMB to retrospectively assess any other project carried out under this Directive. Significant enforcement powers have been included in the transposing statutory instrument to enable the IMB to examine any possible breaches of the legislation and the transposition also provides for significant penalties where serious infringements are identified.

Home Help Service Eligibility

 301. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the criteria used for assessing those in receipt of home help hours. [57517/12]

 302. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the total number of home help appeals received in each area in the past month; the length of time it is taking for the appeals to be reviewed and the time frame involved to have the current back log reviewed. [57518/12]

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. 301 and 302 together.

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

National Positive Ageing Strategy Publication

 303. 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 when the National Positive Aging Strategy will be presented to Cabinet and published in view of a recent commitment to publish before end 2012 and numerous previous commitments to present it to Cabinet and publish it in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57520/12]

 304. 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 whether the failure to publish the National Positive Aging Strategy is resulting in poor policy decisions being taken across Departments that negatively impact upon older people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57521/12]

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. 303 and 304 together.

The Programme for Government has committed to completing and implementing the National Positive Ageing Strategy so that older people are recognised, supported and enabled to live independent full lives.

The Strategy will be a high level document outlining Ireland’s vision for ageing and older people and the national goals and objectives required to promote positive ageing. It will be an over-arching cross-departmental policy and implementation framework that will be the blueprint for age related policy and service delivery across Government in the years ahead.

It will set out a common framework for the development of operational plans by a number of Government Departments, which will clearly set out their objectives relating to older people. Mechanisms designed to monitor the implementation of measures contained in operational plans will also be outlined in the Strategy.

The intention of the Strategy is not to propose new service developments and it will not be prescriptive in relation to the specific actions that will be taken by individual Government Departments to promote positive ageing. Rather, it will set the strategic direction for Government policy on ageing into the future by outlining the priority areas requiring action.

A considerable amount of preparatory work has already been completed and consultations with other Departments are ongoing. The drafting of the Strategy will proceed within the Department within the constraints of available staff and other priorities.

Hospital Services

 305. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans for the future of Belmullet Community Hospital, County Mayo; if his attention has been drawn to the role the hospital plays in the overall framework in County Mayo and in particular its role in assisting bed management at Mayo General Hospital; if he will consider designating it as an intermediate care facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57542/12]

 306. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the x-ray service at Belmullet Community Hospital, County Mayo, is currently suspended; if the Health Service Executive plans reinstate the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57543/12]

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. 305 and 306 together.

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


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