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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 649-668
 Header Item Blind Welfare Allowance
 Header Item Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Health Insurance Prices
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Hospital Facilities
 Header Item Health Insurance Cover
 Header Item Maternity Services
 Header Item Hospital Facilities
 Header Item Road Signage
 Header Item Irish Coast Guard Issues
 Header Item Vehicle Emissions
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 796 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 649-668

Blind Welfare Allowance

 649. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding an application for blind welfare allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [12938/13]

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.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility

 650. 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 reasons that mental health issues are not considered as a long-term illness for persons over 16 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12955/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Regulations were made in 1971, 1973 and 1975 specifying the conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme. The Health Services (Amendment) gulations, 1971 (S.I. No. 277/1971) specified that Mental Illness in a person under 16 should be covered under the scheme.

  Question No. 651 answered with Question No. 573.

Home Help Service Provision

 652. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if a small amount of home help will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13009/13]

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.

  Question No.653 answered with Question No. 629.

Health Insurance Prices

 654. 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 regulations in place regarding the pricing of private health insurance (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13016/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The main legislative provisions for the regulation of the Irish private health insurance market are included in the Health Insurance Acts 1994 to 2012 and Regulations made under those Acts. The aim of this legislation is to ensure that the market is regulated appropriately.

The regulatory system is based on the key principles of community rating, open enrolment, lifetime cover and minimum benefit   and aims to ensure that private health insurance does not cost more for those who need it most. Under community rating, everybody is charged the same premium for a particular health insurance plan, irrespective of age, gender and the current or likely future state of their health.

  As Minister, I have no legal power to intervene in relation to health insurance prices set by the health insurance providers. The insurance companies, operating as commercial providers with a view towards profit generation, make commercial decisions about their prices. I am not aware of any product which has increased in net premium terms by the magnitude referred to by the Deputy, but it is clear that any significant price increases will make it more difficult for customers to renew their policies. I have consistently raised the issue of costs with health insurers and am determined to address costs in the sector in the interests of consumers. I will continue to focus strongly on this issue, as part of measures to ensure the sustainability of the private health insurance market in the transition to a Universal Health Insurance system.

  In the meantime, many consumers can make large savings on their health insurance premiums by shopping around for the health insurance plan that best suits their needs. For those who have been insured on the same plan for a number of years, it is important to review the level of cover to ensure that their needs are being met, without being over-insured. Consumers have a legal right to switch between or within insurers to get better value and to reduce their premium costs. The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) provides information to consumers regarding their rights and also on health insurance plans and benefits. The HIA's website www.hia.ie has a useful plan comparison tool which assists in finding suitable and competitive health insurance plans.

Health Services Provision

 655. Deputy James Bannon Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding the provision of an occupational therapist in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13022/13]

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.

Hospital Facilities

 656. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the annual cost of an ICU high dependency bed in the neurosurgical centre, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13039/13]

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

Health Insurance Cover

 657. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his views on the MRI scanning system that is in place at Letterkenny General Hospital, County Donegal, for which Voluntary Health Insurance does not have a reimbursement scheme, whereas there is a reimbursement scheme for a similar service at Sligo Hospital; if he will ask the VHI to explain the reason the scheme is in place in one hospital but not in the other hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13062/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I do not have a role in the day to day operations of any private health insurance company. The inclusion of MRfacilities in the VHI's Directory of Hospitals (and Treatment Centres) is a matter for the VHI. If a VHI customer requires an MRI scan during the course of a medically necessary stay in a participating hospital listed in the VHI's Directory of Hospitals (and Treatment Centres), and for which hospital benefit is payable, VHI will provide such benefit for eligible MRI scans, in accordance with the customer's terms of contract for their policy. MRI scans must be carried out in an Approved MRI Centre which is covered by the person's plan.

Maternity Services

 658. Deputy Seamus Healy Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will implement without delay the provision of an anomaly scan at 20 weeks' duration of pregnancy for all pregnant women as part of the routine ante-natal screening process in accordance with best international practice; if he will make this provision available in public maternity hospitals throughout the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13063/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The HSE's National Clinical Care Programmes provide a national, strategic and co-ordinated approach to a wide range of clinical services. They include the Clinical Care Programme in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the overall aim of which is to improve choices in women's healthcare. The key objectives of the programme, as with all the HSE's National Clinical Care Programmes, are based on the key metrics of quality, financial value, access and compliance. They include the development and implementation of national clinical guidelines, with the aim of ensuring consistency in clinical practice nationally. To date the Programme has published 20 guidelines, four are in process and a further 20 have been commissioned including clinical guidelines on ultrasound. These guidelines, when developed, will address the way in which such services should be provided.

Hospital Facilities

 659. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding the proposal to provide a medical assessment unit at Monaghan General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13110/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I requested the Regional Director of Operations, Dublin North East, to establish a Group to undertake an independent assessment to establish if a Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) would be required and viable in Monaghan Hospital. The Group, which included two members of the public (Service User Panel Representatives) was established and independently chaired by a Specialist in Public Health Medicine and work commenced in October, 2011. The Group also included a Consultant General Physician in Medicine and a Monaghan General Practitioner. The Group committed to establish if there was a clinical need for a Medical Assessment Unit in Monaghan Hospital as well as to establish the projected cost of running this Unit. The Report was submitted to the Minister and was referred to the Acute Medicine Programme for review. The report concluded that there was no clinical need for a medical assessment unit in Monaghan Hospital and that patient safety must remain our priority at all times when deciding where services are provided. The extension of current non-urgent medical assessment services at Monaghan General Hospital has been considered, but the additional resourcing required is not feasible within the current budgetary allocation.

   Question No. 660 answered with Question No. 573.

Road Signage

 661. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will clarify the position regarding the signage along the N59; if he will explain the necessity to have large signs at the junction of all minor roads between Ballisodare and Dromad; the cost of the new signage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12743/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

Irish Coast Guard Issues

 662. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will address the staffing issues at Valentia Coast Guard station, County Kerry, and ensure that the best possible service is available to all concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12823/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Value for Money reviews into the Coast Guard and Marine Surveying functions of my Department identified a number of issues which need to be addressed in Ireland's maritime transport safety and marine emergency response regimes. One of the consultants' recommendations was that the option of a 2 centre model for rescue coordination centres should be pursued.  After careful consideration of the various options available, their practicality and cost, it was concluded that the three centres should remain but that changes to the operation arrangements within and between the centres would be necessarily required. Therefore it was decided that through the utilisation of the most modern communications and IT infrastructure across a single national Coast Guard network, the 3 centres will be more closely aligned and integrated.  My Department is currently finalising an action plan to address the deficiencies in the maritime safety and emergency response services identified in the Value for Money reviews. Increased efficiencies in the operation, watch arrangements and management of the Centres will be a significant part the proposed changes

Vehicle Emissions

 663. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to test Dublin Bus vehicle emissions at the same level as other commercial vehicles; the existing tests Dublin Bus are subject to in relation to emissions testing, environmental testing and public safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13121/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The subject matter of this question is the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority and I have referred the question to them for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my Office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Departmental Expenditure

 664. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the costs of providing hardware and software to his home and the home of Ministers of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12375/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar No hardware or software has been provided to my home or the homes of the Ministers of State at my Department. We do have use of mobile equipment such as a laptop.

Departmental Expenditure

 665. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the costs of providing telephones in the homes of Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12393/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The costs incurred to date by my Department for the provision of telephone service in the home of Minister Varadkar amount to just over €700. This is for the provision of a secure ISDN line. The Department does not pay for the Minister's home line or broadband.  No costs have been incurred in the case of Minister of State Kelly and Minister of State Ring. 

   

Departmental Expenditure

 666. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the cost of telephones and ICT provided to the constituency offices, including monthly telephone bills of Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department, since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12412/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The costs incurred to date, by my Department, for the provision of landline telephone services in the constituency offices of Minister Varadkar, Minister of State Alan Kelly and Minister of State Michael Ring can be found in the table. The Houses of the Oireachtas provide a managed ICT service (including DSL broadband) for Ministers' constituency offices, which my Department has availed of. The charges for this service can also be found in the table below.  Figures are rounded to the nearest 100.  

- Minister Varadkar
Minister of State Kelly
Minister of State Ring
Telephone Costs
€ 2,200
€ 4,300
€ 2,900
Cost of ICT service provided by Oireachtas      
2011
€ 4,400
€ 4,400
€ 4,400
2012
€ 4,300
€ 4,300
€ 4,300

Departmental Expenditure

 667. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if any additional costs other than telephones, ICT and monthly phone bills are being paid to constituency office by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12430/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar No additional costs (other than telephones, ICT and monthly phone bills) are being paid in respect of consitutency offices by my Department.

Departmental Expenditure

 668. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of mobile telephones in use by him, Ministers of State and politically appointed staff; the total costs of the mobile telephones since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12448/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The approximate mobile phone costs for me, the Ministers of State in my Department and our politically appointed staff from March 2011 to end January 2013 are outlined in the table.   

Office Number of phones currently in use Cost since March 2011
Minister Leo Varadkar 7 €10500
Minister Alan Kelly 6 €4200
Minister Michael Ring 3 €2800
  Mobile phones are critical to facilitate all office holders in conducting business, regardless of location. 


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