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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 668-689
 Header Item Alcohol Pricing
 Header Item HSE Data
 Header Item Alcohol Sales Legislation
 Header Item National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Administration
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Medicinal Products Regulation
 Header Item Hospital Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Hospital Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Health Services
 Header Item Disability Services Funding
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Home Care Packages Provision
 Header Item Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
 Header Item National Cervical Screening Programme

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 970 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 120 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 668-689

Alcohol Pricing

 668. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to amend the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 to include a ban on below invoice cost selling in view of the fact that minimum unit pricing will be delayed pending the formation of a power sharing executive in Northern Ireland in order to ensure the practice of retailing cheap alcohol at below cost cannot continue in the short-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24617/18]

 669. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on introducing a ban on below invoice cost selling of alcohol to augment minimum unit pricing in view of concerns that minimum unit pricing will not impact the pricing of premium branded alcoholic products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24619/18]

 670. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on introducing a ban on below invoice cost selling of alcohol in view of the fact that minimum unit pricing would still legally allow for a six pack of beer to be discounted by as much as €4.50 from its invoice cost which could not happen if there was a ban on below invoice cost selling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24620/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 668 to 670, inclusive, together.

  The primary policy objectives of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill are to:

  - regulate the supply and price of alcohol in order to minimise the possibility and incidence of alcohol related harm;

  - delay the initiation of alcohol consumption by children and young people;

  - reduce the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol; and

  - reduce alcohol consumption to 9.1 litres of pure alcohol per person per annum by 2020.

  One of the measures through which the Bill aims to achieve its objectives is through the introduction of Minimum unit pricing.

  Minimum unit pricing targets cheaper alcohol relative to its strength because the price is determined by and is directly proportionate to the amount of pure alcohol in the drink. This means that the price of individual products will depend on their strength.

  A ban on below cost selling based on the invoice cost price of the alcohol product to the retailer does not target strong, cheap alcohol. It does not address the health harms associated with the harmful consumption of strong cheap alcohol products. This is because products that are cheap relative to their alcohol content will continue to be sold at a level that represents a serious threat to public health.

  Research carried out by the University of Sheffield indicates that a ban on below-cost selling would have a negligible impact on alcohol consumption or related harms as many of the cheapest alcohol products are already priced in or around excise duty plus VAT.

  In addition to Minimum unit pricing the Bill provides for the making of regulations prohibiting or restricting price-based promotions which, either alone, or in tandem with minimum unit pricing would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption, related harms and associated costs.

  The Government Decision approving Minimum unit pricing acknowledged the need for this jurisdiction and Northern Ireland to act simultaneously in order to allay concerns about impacts on cross-border trade. I recognise that it will be most effective if an equivalent measure is introduced in Northern Ireland at the same time. However, Minimum Unit Pricing is an important measure and on that basis I will reflect further, after the enactment of the Bill, before deciding on the timing of the commencement of this provision.

HSE Data

 671. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the average height of children here aged between 6 to 18 years of age according to Irish data or comparative international data which his Department has access to by age bracket and gender in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24621/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Deputy's question has been forwarded to the HSE as the Department does not have this data.

Alcohol Sales Legislation

 672. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the rationale for the selection of a 1.2 metres separating barrier contained under section 22 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015; if this was developed using scientific best practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24622/18]

 673. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on the reason a 1.2 metres separating barrier contained under section 22 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 will reduce the visibility of alcohol to children in view of the fact that the height of the barrier equates to the height of a seven year old according to recent UK statistics (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24623/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 672 and 673 together.

Section 22 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill introduces a statutory framework for the separation and visibility of alcohol products and advertising in mixed retail outlets and is designed to address the relationship between alcohol and children by reducing the likelihood that they will be exposed to alcohol products and advertising in their daily lives.

As drafted, the Bill required that alcohol products were not "readily visible" in mixed retail outlets. This formulation led to some uncertainty so on that basis, I provided for a specific height for the required barrier of a minimum of 1.2 metres. In proposing that minimum height, I recognised the concern that a higher barrier might expose retailers to non-compliance with certain requirements, such as those related to planning or fire safety legislation.

The presence of a physical barrier will ensure there is a marked separation of alcohol products from other ordinary products in a mixed-retail outlet and the minimum height is such to ensure reduced visibility of alcohol products for young children.

National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan

 674. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the budget set aside for the roll-out the three-year action plan for the NDS from 2017 to 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24626/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Department of Health works on a cross-sectoral collaborative basis with other Government Departments on national policies for adults and children with a disability. Disability is not a health issue, nor is it an education issue, or employment issue. It is an equality issue.

  The National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) 2017 – 2021, takes a whole of Government approach to improving the lives of people with disabilities both in a practical sense, and also in creating the best possible opportunities for people with disabilities to fulfil their potential. It is intended that it will make a significant difference over its lifetime to the position of people with disabilities in Irish society.

  The Strategy contains eight themes as follows:

  - Equality and Choice;

  - Joined up policies and public services;

  - Education;

  - Employment;

  - Health and Wellbeing;

  - Person centred disability services;

  - Living in the Community; and

  - Transport and Accessible Places.

  Underpinning these themes are a set of high level objectives, and 114 measurable and time-specific actions that relate to the areas of education, employment, provision of public services, health, transport, and personal safety and autonomy.

  The Department of Justice and Equality has lead responsibility for the NDIS. The Strategy is a cross-government approach that brings together actions by different Departments and State agencies including:

  - Department of Education and Skills;

  - Department of Health;

  - Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection;

  - Health Service Executive;

  - National Disability Authority;

  - Department of Housing, Planning  and Local Government;

  - Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport;

  - National Transport Authority; and

  - Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

  The focus in the Strategy is on better coordination and use of existing resources. The key issue in relation to the implementation of the Strategy is the coordination of all departmental efforts in this area by the Department of Justice and Equality.

Question No. 675 answered with Question No. 615.

Hospital Appointments Administration

 676. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if an appointment for an angiogram for a person (details supplied) will be scheduled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24644/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Health Services Staff Data

 677. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of health care assistants in the community in an area (details supplied); the number of vacancies for these positions in the area; the number of unfilled posts for these positions in the area; the position regarding the national rolling recruitment campaign in respect of these posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24645/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly on this matter.

Health Services Staff Data

 678. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of public health nurses working in the community with the elderly in an area (details supplied); the number of vacancies for such posts; the number of unfilled positions; if the national rolling recruitment campaign is being availed of in this region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24646/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly on this matter.

Medicinal Products Regulation

 679. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the procedure in place for the approval of medicinal cannabis oil for individual persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24654/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Cannabis is strictly controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2016, and the Regulations and Orders made thereunder.

  The two most common active components found in cannabis oil are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

  - THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. Under the Misuse of Drugs legislation products containing THC are strictly controlled and possession is unlawful except under licence.

  - CBD is derived from cannabis. However, since it is not psychoactive it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation, and does not require a Ministerial Licence.

  Access to Medical Cannabis via the Ministerial Licence Route

  - Currently medical practitioners who wish to prescribe cannabis products containing THC may apply to the Minister for Health, for a licence under the Misuse of Drugs Act. 

- The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the granting of such a licence must be premised on an appropriate application being submitted to the Department of Health, which is endorsed by a consultant who is responsible for the management of the patient and who is prepared to monitor the effects of the treatment over time.

  How to apply for a Ministerial licence

  - A medical cannabis licence application submitted to the Minister for Health, in line with the Misuse of Drugs Acts, must include

  - An outline of the treatment the patient has received to date and justification from the doctor as to why it is appropriate in their patient’s specific circumstances to prescribe cannabis.

  - Details of the cannabis product which it is proposed to prescribe and administer to the patient.

  - The source of the cannabis product.

  - The arrangements for the ongoing monitoring and care of the patient once the cannabis-based treatment has commenced.

- The application must be submitted either by the patient’s medical consultant, or by their General Practitioner (GP).  Applications from the patients GP must include written endorsement for the proposed cannabis treatment for the individual patients by the patients’ consultant.

  The decision to prescribe or not prescribe any treatment, including cannabis treatment, for an individual patient is strictly a decision for the treating clinician, in consultation with their patient. The Minister for Health has no role in this clinical decision-making process.

  Consultants or GPs requiring further information or clarification in relation to the licence application process are advised to contact the Department of Health directly. Valid applications received are assessed without delay.

  Information on legal status of THC and CBD:

  For the purposes of clarity the following information may be helpful.

  Cannabis is strictly controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2016, and the Regulations and Orders made thereunder.

  The two most common active components found in cannabis oil are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

  - THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. Under the Misuse of Drugs legislation products containing THC are strictly controlled and possession is unlawful except under licence.

  - CBD is derived from cannabis. However, since it is not psychoactive it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation, and does not require a Ministerial Licence.

Hospital Staff Recruitment

 680. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if there are difficulties with the recruitment of medical scientists in the biochemistry and haematology departments in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [24655/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

Hospital Staff Recruitment

 681. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the HSE has recently advertised for medical scientists in the biochemistry and haematology departments in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. [24656/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

Health Services

 682. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris further to Parliamentary Question No. 60 of 19 April 2018, the details regarding the circumstances of the entry of a person (details supplied) into State care, including their transfer to St. Stephen's Hospital, Glanmire, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24658/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Disability Services Funding

 683. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of an application for capital funding for a project (details supplied) in County Donegal; if the appraisal unit assessing the application has now received all outstanding documentation in relation to the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24660/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have asked the Health Service Executive to provide the Deputy with the information requested with regard to the disability service in Donegal town. 

Medical Card Eligibility

 684. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on providing medical cards to those with spinal cord injuries in view of the long-term and varied consequences of spinal cord injuries; if the matter will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24662/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The HSE's Expert Group on Medical Need and Medical Card Eligibility examined the issue of awarding medical cards on the basis of illness and concluded that it was not feasible, desirable, nor ethically justifiable to list medical conditions in priority order for medical card eligibility.   The Expert Group also concluded that a person’s means should remain the main qualifier for a medical card.  This position remains unchanged.

Medical card provision is based on financial assessment. In accordance with the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for a medical card is determined by the HSE. The Act obliges the HSE to assess whether a person is unable, without due hardship, to arrange general practitioner services for himself or herself and his or her family, having regard to his or her overall financial position and reasonable expenditure and every application must be assessed on that basis. Under the legislation, having a particular illness, in itself, does not establish eligibility for a medical card and therefore, the medical conditions of applicants for this scheme are not monitored on that basis. Where the applicant's income is within the income guidelines, a medical card or GP visit card will be awarded.

Every effort is made by the HSE, within the framework of the legislation, to support applicants in applying for a medical card and, in particular, to take full account of the difficult circumstances in the case of applicants who may be in excess of the income guidelines. It should be noted, in certain circumstances, the HSE may exercise discretion and grant a medical card, even though an applicant exceeds his or her income threshold, where he or she faces difficult financial circumstances, such as extra costs arising from an illness. Social and medical issues are considered when determining whether undue hardship exists for an individual accessing general practitioner or other medical services. The HSE affords applicants the opportunity to furnish supporting information documentation to fully take account of all the relevant circumstances that may benefit them in the assessment, including medical evidence of cost and necessary expenses.

Health Services Staff Data

 685. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of community registered general nurses working in the community (details supplied); the number of vacancies for such posts; the number of unfilled positions; if the national rolling recruitment campaign is being availed of in the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24665/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have asked the HSE to revert to the Deputy with the details sought.

Home Care Packages Provision

 686. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for a home care package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24666/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

 687. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to implement new measures to allow faster access to the child and adolescent mental health services in order to tackle increasing waiting lists such as permitting advanced nurse practitioners to carry out initial assessments to the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24684/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

National Cervical Screening Programme

 688. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 381 and 382 of 15 May 2018, the laboratories which were the subject of site visits in 2011 and 2014. [24693/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I am advised by the HSE in 2011, site visits were carried out at Quest Diagnostics, Teterboro, New Jersey, and CPL, Austin, Texas, United States of America.

  I am further advised that in 2014, site visits were carried out at Medlab Pathology, Dublin, Ireland, Quest Diagnostics, Teterboro, New Jersey United States of America and The Coombe Women and Infants Hospital, Dublin Ireland.

   

Question No. 689 answered with Question No. 597.


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