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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1392 - 1410
 Header Item Optical Screening Services
 Header Item Optical Screening Services
 Header Item Optical Screening Services
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Disability Support Services Provision
 Header Item Disability Support Services Provision
 Header Item Hospital Appointment Delays
 Header Item Dental Services Provision
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Health Services Issues
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Hospital Staff Issues
 Header Item Blood Transfusion Service
 Header Item Symphysiotomy Report
 Header Item General Practitioner Services
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Medical Card Applications

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 813 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 144 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1392 - 1410

Optical Screening Services

 1392. 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 the average waiting time for ophthalmic assessment for primary or post primary students in an area (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37675/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White As the HSE is responsible for providing optical screening services for school age children, the HSE has been asked to examine this matter and respond directly to the Deputy.

Optical Screening Services

 1393. 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 the average waiting time for an ophthalmic assessment for primary or post-primary students in an area (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37676/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White As the HSE is responsible for providing optical screening services for school age children, the HSE has been asked to examine this matter and respond directly to the Deputy.

Optical Screening Services

 1394. 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 the average waiting time for an ophthalmic assessment for primary or post-primary school students in an are (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [37677/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White As the HSE is responsible for providing optical screening services for school age children, the HSE has been asked to examine this matter and respond directly to the Deputy.

Medical Card Eligibility

 1395. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason medical cards which have been issued to children at birth on medical gounds may be refused on renewal despite no change in their medical condition which has been diagnosed as a long term illness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37679/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970, medical cards are provided to persons who are, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive (HSE) unable without undue hardship to arrange GP services for themselves and their dependants. Assessment for a medical card is determined primarily by reference to the means, including the income and reasonable expenditure, of the applicant and his or her partner and dependants.

There is also provision for discretion by the HSE to grant a card in cases of "undue hardship" where the income guidelines are exceeded. Following the centralisation of medical card processing, the Minister ensured that discretionary medical cards would be based on consistent medical grounds by requesting the HSE to set up a panel to assist in the screening of applications for medical cards on a discretionary grounds. Such cases are decided by a qualified Medical Officer. Medical expenses are taken into account when assessing an application on hardship grounds.

The HSE has produced national assessment guidelines to provide a clear framework to assist in the making of reasonable, consistent and equitable decisions when assessing an applicant for the General Medical Services scheme. These guidelines are publicly available and can be downloaded from the HSE's medical card website.

If an individual is not satisfied with a decision made by the HSE concerning an entitlement to a medical card or GP visit card, a person has a right of appeal to the HSE Appeals Officer. An appeal must be lodged by the applicant within twenty-one days of the decision.

Disability Support Services Provision

 1396. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in relation to cutbacks in St Michael's House, Dublin 9 [37683/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch 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, including disability services. The HSE either directly provides or contracts disability agencies such as St Michael House to provide a range of disability services through service level arrangements.

  St Michael’s House received over €70 million in 2012 in funding from the HSE to provide a range of services to approximately 1,660 children and adults with an intellectual disability in over 170 centres in the Greater Dublin Area and Navan Co. Meath.

  The HSE and St Michael's House work in close collaboration with regard to the funding and delivery of services to people with an intellectual disability. As a voluntary agency, St Michael’s house are obliged to work within the resources available to them and in that regard have introduced significant efficiencies over recent years to remain within budget. The HSE has advised that these changes to date have not resulted in service contraction.

  The Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) sets out measures relating to productivity, cost extraction and reform which together intends to achieve a required pay bill reduction of €150m identified in the HSE Service Plan 2013. The agreement provides a framework and opportunities for managers within the health services, including agencies such as St Michael's House, to reduce their costs associated with agency and overtime and a wide range of other pay costs, particularly through measures such as additional working hours and revised rates in respect of overtime.

  The HSE has advised the Department of Health that the recent application of additional budget cuts under the HRA has presented a significant challenge to St Michael’s House. A process is now underway between the HSE and St Michael’s House to identify the impact of these budget reductions on services. The Department of Health has received assurances from the HSE that both organisations are committed to working within the terms of the HRA to ensure that services are impacted upon only as a measure of last resort.

  In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service issues they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Disability Support Services Provision

 1397. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will end the cuts to St. Michael's House disability services [37694/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch 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, including disability services. The HSE either directly provides or contracts disability agencies such as St Michael House to provide a range of disability services through service level arrangements.

St Michael’s House received over €70 million in 2012 in funding from the HSE to provide a range of services to approximately 1,660 children and adults with an intellectual disability in over 170 centres in the Greater Dublin Area and Navan Co. Meath.

The HSE and St Michael's House work in close collaboration with regard to the funding and delivery of services to people with an intellectual disability. As a voluntary agency, St Michael’s house are obliged to work within the resources available to them and in that regard have introduced significant efficiencies over recent years to remain within budget. The HSE has advised that these changes to date have not resulted in service contraction.

The Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) sets out measures relating to productivity, cost extraction and reform which together intends to achieve a required pay bill reduction of €150m identified in the HSE Service Plan 2013. The agreement provides a framework and opportunities for managers within the health services, including agencies such as St Michael's House, to reduce their costs associated with agency and overtime and a wide range of other pay costs, particularly through measures such as additional working hours and revised rates in respect of overtime.

The HSE has advised the Department of Health that the recent application of additional budget cuts under the HRA has presented a significant challenge to St Michael’s House. A process is now underway between the HSE and St Michael’s House to identify the impact of these budget reductions on services. The Department of Health has received assurances from the HSE that both organisations are committed to working within the terms of the HRA to ensure that services are impacted upon only as a measure of last resort.

Hospital Appointment Delays

 1398. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the progress to date in arranging an appointment for a neurosurgical procedure in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37698/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Improving access to outpatient services is a key priority for the Government. Collaborating with individual hospitals, the SDU, together with the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) and the HSE, has developed the outpatient waiting list minimum dataset. This allows data to be submitted to the NTPF from hospitals on a weekly basis and, for the first time, outpatient data is available on www.ntpf.ie. For 2013, a maximum waiting time target has been set of 12 months for a first time consultant-led outpatient appointment and this is reflected in the HSE service plan. The SDU and the NTPF will work closely with hospitals towards achievement of the maximum waiting time.

Should a patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he or she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and hospital involved. In relation to the specific hospital appointment query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Dental Services Provision

 1399. 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 provide a detailed report outlining the dental check-up services provided to children in each of the Health Service Executive clinics in the State; and the efforts he will make to ensure an improved and consistent service across all centres. [37699/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Public Dental Service of the HSE provides dental services for children up to 16 years of age and persons with special needs through its dental clinics. All HSE dental clinics prioritise emergency care for children up to 16 years of age, treatment for special needs patients and screening of children aged from 11 to 13 years, including referral for orthodontic services where necessary. Other services, including screening of children 6 to 8 years, are provided but may be deferred in clinics where there is pressure on resources. The HSE Public Dental Service has recently been re-structured. It is intended that the new arrangements will facilitate standardisation of services available nationally.

Hospital Services

 1400. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly further to Parliamentary Question No. 256 of the 4 July 2013, if he will provide an update on the re-establishment of the thrombolysis service; when it is envisaged that the vacant stroke consultant post will be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37700/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services Issues

 1401. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when phase II of the TRASNA programme will be implemented; the planned location for the remaining Teledocs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37705/13]

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

Hospital Services

 1402. 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 will request the Health Service Executive to reinstate the acute and chronic pain management clinic in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda and to have it included in their service plan for this regional hospital covering four counties with a population of 300,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37708/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly A Chronic Pain Service was previously developed in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda by a Consultant Anaesthetist who had the appropriate skills to provide this service. The clinic ran from February 2012 to December 2012 until the Consultant left the position. During this time 161 patients had been seen by this Consultant, who specialised in this area of pain management. A total of 203 remained on his waiting list when he left and these referrals have been returned to the referral source.

  I have been informed by the HSE that there has been no success to date in recruiting a clinician with equivalent expertise and therefore Our Lady of Lourdes hospital is no longer able to provide this service.

  However, as the Deputy will be aware, I recently announced the reorganisation of public hospitals into more efficient and accountable hospital groups that will deliver improved outcomes for patients. By working in groups, hospital services will be provided by the hospitals in each group, based on the evidence based needs of their populations.

  Each group of hospitals will work together as single cohesive entities managed as one, to provide acute care for patients in their area, integrating with community and primary care. This will maximise the amount of care delivered locally, whilst ensuring complex care is safely provided in larger hospitals.

  Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda will form part of the Dublin North East Hospital Group where a public pain clinic is provided at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.

Health Services Staff Data

 1403. 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 the number of mental health service employees that were employed in County Waterford during the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; the number of posts that were filled during that time; the number of vacant posts that remain unfilled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37712/13]

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 this question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Staff Issues

 1404. 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 the orthaeopedic surgical rotation in Waterford Regional Hospital is currently operating at full capacity; if not, if he will confirm the efforts being made to fill any vacant positions; the efforts being made to speed up the provision of these essential services; when the provision of elective surgeries will recommence, as at the moment this Deputy understands only trauma cases are being seen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37714/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Government has decided that the numbers employed across the public service must be reduced in order to meet its fiscal and budgetary targets. The Health Sector must make its contribution to that reduction. However, the HSE can make staff appointments once it remains within its overall employment ceiling and has the financial resources to do so.

  In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Blood Transfusion Service

 1405. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is to commence accepting blood from haemachromatosis sufferers; the indicative dates and locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37717/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has commenced a new phlebotomy service for people who suffer from hereditary haemochromatosis. At present this involves a two year pilot programme which has been available in Dublin since 19 August 2013. It is expected to be made available in Cork before the end of the year.

People who wish to use the service must get a prescription from their GP or hospital clinic on an IBTS form which is available at
www.giveblood.ie. The prescription will be valid for one year and will provide for up to four venesections per person per year. There will be no charge for this service irrespective of medical entitlement or health insurance cover.

Symphysiotomy Report

 1406. 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 when the final Report by Professor Oonagh Walsh into the practice of symphysiotomy will be published.  [37719/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I do not intend to publish the final report on Symphysiotomy in Ireland referred to by the Deputy until the Government has reached a decision on this complex and sensitive matter.

I met the support groups representing the women who have been affected by symphysiotomy on 1st August 2013 and informed them that a decision has not yet been made by Government on how to put closure on the issue. I proposed at that meeting that I would initiate a mediation process for the women affected by symphysiotomy. I intend to appoint a judge to conduct this mediation. At the conclusion of the mediation process, the judge will advise me on how the matter may be progressed. I will then be in a position to bring proposals to Government and to publish the report as soon as possible after that. It is, of course, open to any woman not wishing to pursue mediation to bring a claim through the courts.

General Practitioner Services

 1407. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his intentions for an out-of-hours facility (details supplied) in County Cork; the number of doctors currently on call; if any changes have recently taken place with regard to the normal operating hours of this facility; if there are any future plans to reduce this service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37723/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White 90% of the population have access to GP out-of-hours services in 14 centres nationally, in all HSE regions, in at least part of every county. Over 2,000 GPs provide services in the co-ops.

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on the issue.

Medical Card Applications

 1408. 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. [37729/13]

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.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Applications

 1409. 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 persons (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37730/13]

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.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Applications

 1410. 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. [37731/13]

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.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.


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