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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 253-267
 Header Item Speech and Language Therapy Provision
 Header Item Hospitals Building Programme
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments
 Header Item Addiction Treatment Services
 Header Item Hospital Charges
 Header Item Hospital Charges
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Pharmacy Regulations
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Tuberculosis Eradication Programme Payments
 Header Item Beef Data Programme
 Header Item Forestry Premium Payments
 Header Item Public Sector Allowances
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Remuneration
 Header Item GLAS Applications

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 914 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 83 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 253-267

Speech and Language Therapy Provision

 253. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the waiting times for access to speech and language services in County Tipperary; the number of children and adults waiting for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17864/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service issue, this question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, please contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with them.

Hospitals Building Programme

 254. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the current or pending funding allocations being considered for South Tipperary General Hospital particularly those for infrastructure investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17865/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In relation to investment in infrastructure 4 additional ED bays were provided under the 2015/2016 winter initiative and works on front foyer doors and the mortuary upgrade have also been completed.

It is expected that the extension to the radiology department to accommodate a CT scanner will be completed by Q4 2016 and on this basis the facility should be opened in Q1 2017. While work is underway on a project to refurbish accommodation for outpatients further reviews of the design etc. will be required. The upgrade of the ancillary accommodation for maternity services, minor upgrade works for the paediatric ward and the replacement UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for ICU are underway and it is expected that these could be completed this year or early next year.

I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to current or pending funding allocations being considered for South Tipperary General Hospital. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office and my officials will follow the matter up.

Accident and Emergency Departments

 255. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of the work of the emergency task force established to tackle the high rates of patients being treated in accident and emergency departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17866/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Minister for Health convened the Emergency Department Taskforce (EDTF) in December 2014 to provide focus and momentum in dealing with the challenges presented by ED overcrowding. The EDTF Implementation Group has met on a regular basis during 2015 and into 2016; most recently on the 30th May 2016. The Group has been overseeing initiatives to address ED overcrowding and ED performance.

Over the 2015/2016 winter period, the ED Taskforce Implementation Group played a key role in monitoring ED performance and ensuring a coordinated approach across Primary, Acute and Social Care to addressing ED wait times. This concerted and coordinated effort has had an impact; despite a sustained increase in ED attendances (5.6%), trolley performance has been favourable to date this year in comparison with the same period last year.

Reflecting the wide range of experience and perspectives represented on the Taskforce, the resulting EDTF Action Plan, published in April 2015, sets out 87 recommendations to optimise existing hospital and community capacity, develop internal capability and process improvement and improve leadership, governance, planning and oversight.

The 87 Recommendations have been re-categorised in terms of priority and their current status. The Action Plan forms the basis by which the Implementation Group, in a structured way, tracks progress on actions that will have real and measurable benefits in improving ED performance and patient experience.

The work of the EDTF Implementation group has been supplemented by the Special Delivery Unit, or SDU, which was established in 2011, also to tackle ED overcrowding. Its recent focus has been on unscheduled care, in particular with a focus on adherence to the ‘National Escalation Directive’ (designed to streamline hospital responses to surges in demand for unscheduled care) and the implementation of the EDTF recommendations.

Review Phase site visits to all acute hospitals are almost complete; findings will inform the EDTF and a 2016-18 Winter Initiative to reduce overcrowding in EDs.

Addiction Treatment Services

 256. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the services available to those wishing to combat gambling addictions or problem gambling; the measures he is taking to tackle this; the number of those presenting with gambling problems to State-supported addiction services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17867/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne The HSE does not provide specific services for persons with a gambling addiction. Therefore, it is not possible to identify the number of those presenting with gambling problems to State supported addiction services.

Those who present for addiction treatment for gambling are offered the same range of interventions as those who present with a drug and alcohol addiction, or a mental health concern, including an initial assessment, a comprehensive assessment, and individual counselling. Counselling and rehabilitation services provide care to those presenting with a gambling addiction through one to one counselling, financial advice and onward referral to other services and supports where appropriate, such as Gamblers Anonymous.

The National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol Drugs Prevalence Survey for 2014/15 has been completed. The Survey will present key findings for 2014/15 on drug use, and for the first time will include prevalence data on gambling. The first results of the Survey are expected shortly and will inform the planning and development of services for those affected by addiction issues, as well as the response to the problem of gambling addiction in this country.

Hospital Charges

 257. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the amount of money that is being received by the health service from the €100 charge for accident and emergency care in hospitals; the percentage of those liable for the charge who fail to pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [17869/16]

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. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office and my officials will follow the matter up.

Hospital Charges

 258. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to consider waiving or reducing the fees for accident and emergency care for children who suffer from conditions which necessitate regular attendance at hospital accident and emergency units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17870/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Health (Out-Patient Charges) Regulations 2013, S.I. No. 45 of 2013, set the charge made for services provided at an emergency department. There are a number of exemptions to the charge, including where a person attends his or her GP and is referred to the emergency department, where attendance results in admission as an in-patient or where services are made available in respect of a prescribed disease or disability to children under 16 years of age. The Regulations provide that the charge shall only be made in respect of the first occasion the service is provided in relation to each episode of care.

The full list of exemptions from the emergency department charge, as set out in Regulation (3) of the S.I. No. 45 of 2013, is: a) a person with full eligibility; b) a woman receiving the services concerned in respect of motherhood; c) a child up to 6 weeks; d) a child, referred to in section 56(3) of the Act, in respect of diseases and disabilities of a permanent or long term nature prescribed by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform; e) a child, referred to in section 56(4) of the Act, in respect of defects noticed at a health examination held pursuant to the service provided under section 66 of the Act; f) a person receiving services for the diagnosis or treatment of an infectious disease prescribed under Part IV of the Health Act 1947; g) a person who is deemed, pursuant to section 45(7) of the Act, to be a person with full eligibility in relation to an out-patient service; h) a person who has a letter of referral from a registered medical practitioner; i) a person whose attendance results in admission as an in-patient; j) a person who, pursuant to section 2 of the Heath (Amendment) Act 1996 (No. 15 of 1996), in the opinion of the Health Service Executive, has contracted hepatitis C directly or indirectly from the use of Human Immunoglobulin-Anti-D or the receipt within the State of another blood product or a blood transfusion.

On the basis of exemption (e) above the emergency department charge does not apply where out-patient services are made available in respect of a prescribed disease or disability to a person of less than 16 years of age. The prescribed conditions are: mental handicap, mental illness, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, haemophilia and cerebral palsy. I have no plans to amend this list at present.

Medical Card Applications

 259. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if and when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17879/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris 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 recently issued to Oireachtas members.

If the Deputy has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, please contact my Private Office who will follow up the matter with them.

Pharmacy Regulations

 260. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to repeal section 14 (1)(f) of the Pharmacy Act 2007 which prohibits pharmacists who become bankrupt from being registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland; if he is aware of the unique situation this places pharmacists in when compared with other medical professionals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17885/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) is the independent statutory regulator of the pharmacy profession, established by the Pharmacy Act 2007 (“the Act”). It is charged with, and is accountable for, the effective regulation of registered pharmacists and registered retail pharmacy businesses in Ireland, which includes responsibility for supervising compliance with the Act.

Section 14(1)(f) of the Act, provides that a person applying for registration as a pharmacist (including continued registration) to the Council of the PSI must not be an undischarged bankrupt.

Government approval has been received to draft a Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. One of the proposed provisions in the Bill is the amendment to section 14(1)(f) of the Act. Parliamentary Counsel has been assigned to drafting the Bill, which is being drafted as a matter of priority. Following drafting and Government approval of the draft Bill, the Bill will be published. It will then commence its passage through the various parliamentary stages in both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Hospital Appointments Status

 261. 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 a hospital appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17894/16]

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 scheduling of appointments for patients is a matter for the hospital to which the patient has been referred. Should a patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he or she should take the matter up with the consultant and the hospital involved. In relation to the specific case raised, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office and my officials will follow the matter up.

Tuberculosis Eradication Programme Payments

 262. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed why the compensation payments for reactor cattle from the suckler cow herd, is significantly below the market value and does not cover the replacement cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17639/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The primary compensation scheme for farmers whose herds are affected by TB is the On-Farm Market Valuation Scheme. Under these arrangements, compensation is payable for cattle removed as reactors. This compensation is based on the market value of the animal i.e. the price that might reasonably have been obtained for it, from a purchaser on the open market if the animal had not been affected by TB.

Where a breakdown occurs, the reactor is valued by an independent Valuer and my Department pays the difference between this valuation and the salvage value which the farmer receives from the slaughter plant. In order to ensure that reactors are valued uniformly across the country and on the basis of current market prices, my Department has issued assessment guidelines for all categories of stock to all valuers. In addition, my Department issues up-to-date summary prices to valuers on a weekly basis. Summary prices for non-breeding beef stock are based on prices collected by Department officials at 7 representative marts while summary prices for breeding stock, both pedigree and non-pedigree, are based on prices collected by Department officials at premier, dispersal, reduction and regional sales throughout the country.

In view of the foregoing, I am satisfied that, taking account of the payment from my Department and the price received by the herdowner from the slaughter plant, a farmer, at any given time, receives a level of compensation which adequately reflects the market valuation of reactors, including suckler cows, as if they were not affected by bovine TB.

Beef Data Programme

 263. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the status of an application by a person (details supplied) under the beef data scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17654/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named applied to participate in the 2014 Beef Data Programme on 26 March 2014. On 12 October 2014 survey forms issued by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) to the person named in connection with the completion of the required data in relation to their 2014 born calves and both their dams and sire/s. My Department has no postal or online record of the required data being submitted and accordingly no payment is due to the person named in respect of this Programme.

The person named also submitted an application to participate in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) 2015 – 2020 on 18 May 2015. Following the receipt of initial data and the completion of the required genotyping, payment issued to the person named on 22 December 2015. The person named subsequently submitted additional information and a supplementary payment is now due on foot of this. This payment will issue in the coming weeks.

Forestry Premium Payments

 264. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if a person (details supplied) is eligible to draw forestry premium on lands, as no premium has been drawn down on this land in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17677/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I refer the Deputy to my response of 17 May 2016 to Parliamentary Question No.963. There is no record of an application having been received from the person named under the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme. If this land is already afforested payment of premiums under the Scheme does not arise. If the land has yet to be afforested it is open to the person named to make an application under the Scheme and, as previously advised, he should contact a registered forester or forestry company, details of which are available on the Department's website, about the submission of an application.

Public Sector Allowances

 265. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the cost of reintroducing public sector allowances for public sector workers in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [17680/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Rates of Public Sector allowances and policies regarding their application are generally agreed centrally by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) or on a case by case basis between my Department and the DPER. My Department will be guided by DPER in these matters. It is not possible at this time to assess the costs that may be associated with any potential changes to allowances.

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

 266. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the cost of ensuring that public sector workers recruited in his Department post-2011 are paid on the pre-2011 rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17691/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Pay policy in the Public Sector is determined centrally by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Due to the multiplicity of grades streams recruited by my Department since 2011 and the large number of variables associated with each recruitment, it is not possible to provide the detailed costings requested by the Deputy at this time. However, 156 staff have been recruited to my Department since 2011 with a salary cost of €6.1 million annually.

GLAS Applications

 267. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the reason for a refusal of a payment to a person (details supplied) under the green low-carbon agri-environment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17729/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named has been approved under Tranche 1 of GLAS with a contract start date of 1 October 2015 and has received the first instalment of his 2015 part year payment on the 8 March 2016. I can confirm that one of the GLAS actions applied for was not approved into the scheme as it did meet the eligibility conditions. The balancing payment will issue at the earliest opportunity, after all required regulatory checks are fully completed.


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