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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 605-26
 Header Item Suicide Prevention
 Header Item Hospital Charges
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Administration
 Header Item Disabilities Services Funding
 Header Item Crisis Pregnancy Services
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Consultancy Contracts Issues
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Hospital Staff Issues
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Hospital Acquired Infections
 Header Item Public Sector Reform Implementation
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Hospitals Funding
 Header Item Hospitals Funding

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 782 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 605-26

Suicide Prevention

 605. 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 his plans to set up a national cross party suicide prevention authority which would be properly staffed and properly resourced to try to reduce the ever increasing number of suicides here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49595/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I have no plans to set up another suicide prevention authority. This function is currently being carried out by the HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) which was established in 2005 on foot of a recommendation in Reach Out our National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention. The role of the National Office is to oversee the implementation of Reach Out and to coordinate suicide prevention initiatives around the country. Its work is centred around evidence based interventions. The NOSP is advised and guided by an implementation group comprising individuals with considerable knowledge and expertise in the areas of suicide prevention, mental health promotion and bereavement support.

  In 2011, the total funding available nationally through the HSE for suicide prevention was about €9 million of which €4.1 million is administered by NOSP and is used to fund voluntary and statutory agencies delivering services in the area of prevention, intervention, postvention and research. The remaining €5 million is available regionally to fund Resource Officers for Suicide Prevention, Self-Harm Liaison Nurses in Hospital Emergency Departments and local suicide prevention initiatives. In 2012, an additional €3 million (part of the special allocation of €35m for mental health) has been made available to NOSP to introduce further suicide prevention initiatives.

  It is widely accepted that suicide is a complex issue and that there are no easy or single interventions that will bring a guarantee of success. International evidence shows that suicide prevention requires a collective, concerted effort from all groups in society. Solutions, therefore, involve the whole community, a large array of voluntary organisations, specialist mental health professionals and mental healthcare provided by general practitioners and others in primary care. The overall expenditure in time and resources in this area is significant and is under constant review. I believe that a commitment to evidence based programmes and partnerships with a common purpose is what is required to address the issue of suicide and this role is being carried out at present by the existing National Office.

Hospital Charges

 606. 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 his views on whether introducing a charge on persons who do not attend hospital appointments will lead to another layer of bureaucracy which will be cumbersome and costly to administers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49597/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Charges are levied by the Health Service Executive for health services provided in hospitals in accordance with the provisions of the Health Act 1970. Charges are not currently levied where people fail to attend hospital appointments. The possible benefits of introducing new charges as referred to by the Deputy would have to be balanced against the administrative demands involved. The Government will take decisions on all aspects of health expenditure in the context of its overall budgetary strategy for 2013.

Hospital Appointments Administration

 607. 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 his plans to deal with the practice by consultants of block booking appointments, that is 20 persons arriving at 9 a.m., all with appointments to meet the same consultant at the same time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49598/12]

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.

Disabilities Services Funding

 608. 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 reason the voluntary disability sector has been targeted for cuts over the past four years, causing a shortfall in funding of approx 15%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49601/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch 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.

Crisis Pregnancy Services

 609. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his Department is investigating recent media reports (details supplied) in relation to advice given at the Dundalk office of Irish Planning Association; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49622/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I wish to inform the Deputy that the allegations made in respect of state-funded crisis pregnancy counselling services in the Irish Independent on 27th October 2012 are currently being examined by the Health Service Executive. The Department of Health awaits the outcome of this examination.

  Question No. 610 answered with Question No. 584.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 611. 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 position regarding an operation in respect of a child (details supplied) in County Wicklow. [49636/12]

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 direct reply.

Medical Card Applications

 612. 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 a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49641/12]

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

Consultancy Contracts Issues

 613. 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 if he will provide in tabular form the amount currently being spent on, or budgeted for by State agencies under his remit for spending, on the areas of communication, public relations, consultancy, advertising and human resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49654/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The information requested is currently being collated and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 614. 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 confirm that a person (details supplied) in County Meath has an appointment for an MRI at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, that the resulting scan will be read in a timely manner and the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49665/12]

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.

Hospital Staff Issues

 615. 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 when the position of full-time physiotherapist at Temple Street CUH Cystic Fibrosis Unit, Dublin, will be filled; if an agency physiotherapist will be appointed in the interim period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49674/12]

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.

  Question No. 616 answered with Question No. 584.

Health Services Provision

 617. 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 there has been changes to the pre-emergency care cover for Swords, County Dublin in recent weeks; if he will provide the detail of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49680/12]

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.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility

 618. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans to add rubinstein - taybi syndrome to the long term illness scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49683/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme. Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €132 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation.

Hospital Services

 619. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans for the proposed downgrading of Waterford Regional Hospital to a district hospital; if his attention has been drawn to the devestating effect this will have for persons across the entire south east region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49684/12]

 623. Deputy John Halligan Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will confirm the date the independent hospital review group is due to report back to him; if he will agree that a reconfiguration of hospitals within the south east with Waterford Regional Hospital at its central core is the most strategic way forward; if he acknowledges that a critical mass of 500,000 people living in the south east region makes a south east hospital network the most viable option; if he will confirm that any reconfiguration which takes place at Waterford Regional Hospital will not diminish WRH's status as a level four category hospital; if he will provide details of the review groups terms of reference; if he will further confirm if the group was instructed to take into account the fact that increases in travel times for patients and relatives are materially relative to gains in clinical outcomes; if the group has met and taken into consideration the views of the South East Hospital Working Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49707/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 619 and 623 together.

A key stepping stone towards the introduction of Universal Health Insurance will be to develop independent not-for-profit hospital trusts in which all hospitals will function as part of integrated groups. The rationale behind the establishment of hospital groups and trusts is to support increased operational autonomy and accountability for hospital services in a way that will drive service reforms and provide the maximum possible benefit to patients.

To assist my Department in advising the Government on the formation of hospital groups, in June this year I appointed Professor John Higgins to chair a Strategic Board on the Establishment of Hospital Groups. The Strategic Board is composed of representatives with both national and international expertise in health service delivery, governance and linkages with academic institutions.

A Project Team was established to make recommendations on the composition of hospital groups, governance arrangements, current management frameworks and linkages to academic institutions for the consideration of the Strategic Board. The consultation process to inform the project team has been rigorous and comprehensive. It has included meetings with every acute hospital, including consultations on two separate occasions with each hospital in the South East region; it has involved the receipt of a significant volume of formal submissions from hospitals, clinicians, regulatory bodies and citizens, all of which have been considered.

The organisation of hospital services nationally, regionally and locally will be informed by the on-going development of the HSE Clinical Programmes and by the Smaller Hospitals Framework, which defines the role of the smaller hospitals and is intrinsically linked to the on-going work regarding the development of hospital groups.

The work on hospital groups is not about downgrading hospitals. It is about bringing together groups of hospitals into single cohesive entities to allow maximum flexibility in management, budgets and service delivery; it is about ensuring that hospital groups are broadly comparable in size and scope so that they can attract high-quality staff and trainees across all health care specialities and professions; it is about creating efficiencies by using common business processes and economies of scale and avoiding unnecessary duplication; most importantly of all, it is about maximising the range of services available to deliver internationally comparable quality care for patients, regardless of where they live.

I am hopeful that I will receive the report of the Strategic Board on the Establishment of Hospital Groups later this month and that I will be able to bring this matter to my cabinet colleagues for decision shortly thereafter. Finally, it should be remembered that the hospital groups are an interim, collaborative measure pending the legislation required to establish hospital trusts: before those trusts are established, the composition and functioning of the Groups will be reviewed and if changes prove necessary then they will be made with Government approval when the hospital trusts are being formed.

Hospital Acquired Infections

 620. 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 the hospitals and or healthcare centres in which Legionnaires disease occurred in the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49698/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Since 2010 there have been three cases of patients having Legionella's Disease as a consequence of being a patient of a HSE healthcare facility. In each incident a very detailed investigation and consequence control measures procedure were put in place where necessary. A group within the HSE is updating guidance on the prevention and control of Legionellosis in Ireland. The HSE has been requested to supply the details of the healthcare facilities directly to the Deputy.

Public Sector Reform Implementation

 621. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will continue to use the PPARS payroll system for the administration of payroll in the health service for the forseeable future. [49701/12]

 622. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if an alternative system has been considered to the PPARS payroll system; if so, when he will be inviting submissions for an alternative system for the administration of payroll in the Health Service Executive. [49702/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 621 and 622 together.

One of the key commitments in the Public Service Reform Plan is to identify and evaluate new business models and opportunities to support the delivery of non-core processes and services. External Service Delivery is an area that can potentially deliver a range of benefits for the provision of health services. These include both cost and efficiency savings stemming from better work and management practices.

It is in this context that HSE Management recently approved proposals to examine the external delivery of the HSE payroll. The decision of the HSE is to test and validate the information already gathered in relation to an external service delivery model proposal for the future central payroll operations and its system support infrastructure. A business case is currently being undertaken by the HSE in this regard. There will be no change to the current HSE payroll process while this exercise is ongoing.

  Question No. 623 answered with Question No. 619.

Health Services Provision

 624. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans for a health centre (details supplied) in Dublin 9 which has had a reduction in services recently causing many residents to fear there might be plans to close it [49726/12]

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

Hospitals Funding

 625. 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 any hospitals in the Louth Meath Hospital group are currently running deficits; the current deficit in each of the hospitals; the projected deficit at the end of the year; if any of these hospitals are making use of an overdraft facility; the details of the overdraft facility in each case [49733/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In the current economic climate, the acute sector must reduce its costs in order to deliver the agreed level of activity within the resources available to it. In terms of service delivery, we must concentrate on getting the best possible services for patients from the budgets available to us. This means we need to focus on how beds are used, on the throughput of patients, on reducing length of stay to international norms and on having as many procedures as possible carried out as day cases rather than inpatient work, thus maximising also the efficient usage of operating theatre facilities. In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy I have asked the HSE to respond directly to him in relation to those matters.

Hospitals Funding

 626. 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 any additional measures will be taken to curb cost overruns in health services which stood at €374 million at the end of September; the projected cost overrun for years end; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49734/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As I have previously outlined to the House, the financial situation in the HSE continues to be extremely challenging. The HSE is overspent by €374m to the end of September and on the basis of the latest information available, would have a deficit in the region of €500m at the end of the year if current run rates prevail unless additional cost containment measures are undertaken. There is intensive engagement between my Department and the Health Service Executive to address the excess expenditure. In the short term, to address the 2012 position, I have instructed the Executive to impose cash limits on agency and overtime. Furthermore, there will be more rigorous management of absenteeism, travel and subsistence will be limited, and stock management will be intensified in order to better manage cash. My Department is also undertaking a number of measures to address the deficit, which include an acceleration in the collection of private health insurance income, savings from the agreements with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association and the Medical Defence Union. Further initiatives include the use of capital to fund revenue on a once-off basis and the transfer of Department funds to the HSE on a once-off basis. I have also instructed the HSE to review all pay and non-pay savings targets with a view to further targeting all areas which do not compromise patient safety.


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