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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 309-324
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Medicinal Products Prices
 Header Item Parking Provision
 Header Item Parking Provision
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments Waiting Times
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Nursing Home Beds Data
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Hospital Facilities
 Header Item Respite Care Services Provision
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments Waiting Times
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 919 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 309-324

Medical Card Eligibility

 309. 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 his plans to further streamline the medical card application process to ensure that children with disabilities are provided the required support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23001/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris 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 undue 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.

On foot of the Keane Report, the HSE established a Clinical Advisory Group to develop clinical oversight and guidance for the operation of a more compassionate and trusted medical card system. The Director General of the HSE, on accepting an interim recommendation of the Group, made a decision to award medical card eligibility to all children under 18 years of age with a diagnosis of cancer from 1 July 2015, with the card to be held for a period of five years. The Clinical Advisory Group is continuing its work on the development of guidance on assessing medical card applications involving significant medical conditions and its final report is due shortly.

The Deputy may be aware the agreed Programme for a Partnership Government states that the Government will extend medical cards to all children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA). The DCA is a monthly payment for a child with a severe disability, aged under 16 years, who requires ongoing care and attention substantially over and above the care and attention usually required by a child of the same age.

If the HSE is made aware that a person has special needs, whether at application or review stage, assistance will be afforded to help that person complete the application whether at application stage or at review stage. The local health office can be contacted or LoCall 1890 252 919 to request this assistance.

Hospital Appointments Status

 310. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will reschedule an appointment for surgery for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23010/16]

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.

As this is a service matter, 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.

Medicinal Products Prices

 311. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason a drug (details supplied) which is supplied by the HSE to pharmacies at a cost of €35.50 is being sold on to consumers at a price of €64.81 by one pharmacy chain (details supplied); and if he will consider putting a cap on the prices chargeable for individual drugs by pharmacies. [23017/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the community drugs schemes, patients are supplied with medicines through over 1,800 community pharmacies. Pharmacies purchase the medicines from wholesalers or directly from drug manufacturers. The pharmacies are then reimbursed by the HSE, following dispensing.

The reimbursement prices of medicines paid for by the HSE are determined under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013 and agreements between the State and pharmaceutical representative bodies. The reimbursement prices of approved medicines are available on the PCRS page of the HSE website. Neither the Minister for Health nor the HSE has the power to set the price of medicines which are purchased privately.

The public are advised, where the price they are charged exceeds the reimbursement price plus a dispensing fee (usually under €5), to discuss this with their pharmacist and also to compare prices between different pharmacies. In addition, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland has issued guidelines on minimum standards of information for customers, including the provision of itemised receipts.

Parking Provision

 312. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans for the development of car-parking facilities at University Hospital Galway that did not proceed to construction since 2006; if he will provide a breakdown of the costs associated with these plans including but not limited to fees for consultants, planners and architects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23020/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the 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.

Parking Provision

 313. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of car-parking spaces available at University Hospital Galway, UHG; the number of car-parking spaces currently required at UHG under the city development plan; and if any variance between these figures represents a restriction on the future development of the hospital on its current site. [23021/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the 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.

Medical Card Applications

 314. 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 eligibility for a medical card will be reviewed in the case of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23022/16]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities

 315. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will consider proposals to secure sustainable long-term funding for the important WALK PEER programme for young persons with disabilities based on the strong work it has in the past and the opportunities it provides; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23047/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I understand that the PEER (Providing Equal Employment Routes) project was one of 14 employment activation projects for people with disabilities which were jointly funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Department of Social Protection from 2012 to 2015. The project was delivered by WALK, the Walkinstown Association for People with an Intellectual Disability.

In relation to the suggestion of continuation of funding from the Department of Health, it is important to note that employment activation for all citizens, including those with a disability, is the responsibility of the Department of Social Protection.

The HSE provides Day Services for persons with disabilities to facilitate a range of skills and activities such as independent living skills, personal development, education classes, social and recreational activities, and health-related and therapy supports. Day activation is essentially a programme that does not include paid employment in the open labour market.

Hospital Appointments Status

 316. Deputy Pat Casey Information on Pat Casey Zoom on Pat Casey 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. [23052/16]

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.

As this is a service matter, 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.

Accident and Emergency Departments Waiting Times

 317. 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 the steps he continues to take to alleviate the problem of overcrowding at various general hospitals throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23065/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The number of patients presenting at our Emergency Departments has been 6% higher than the equivalent period last year. Notwithstanding this increase in demand, the number of patients waiting on trolleys in EDs has decreased; for Q1-2, 2016, we have seen a reduction of just over 7% in numbers of patients waiting on trolleys, in comparison with 2015.

The increased pressure on our hospital system results in part from demographics; preliminary results from Census 2016 indicate population increases of 3.7% since 2011. Census 2016 results have not yet available in terms of age profile. However, from 2002 - 2011, the cohort of the population aged over 65 grew by 23% and is projected to rise further. Adults over 65 years of age (12% of the population) use 53% of hospital in-patient care.

The HSE has therefore estimated the rate of increase in demand at approximately 3% per annum; however, recent 2016 hospital attendance reports would indicate that 3% is at the lower end of the scale. The Minister for Health met with the HSE National Director for Acute Hospitals on Friday, 15th July, regarding the recent rise in numbers of patients on trolleys and proposed measures to address trolley numbers. It was agreed that the HSE Special Delivery Unit will continue to maintain a strong focus on ensuring that hospitals improve performance in managing ED pressures, as well as on expanding care pathways for frail elderly people who present in EDs.

Ongoing efforts to address ED overcrowding include the development of more Primary Care Centres and widening the range of services that primary care can offer and expansion of Community Intervention Teams. Hospital capacity has recently been increased by opening or reopening 374 additional beds and employing more than 750 nurses and almost 80 consultants; reducing delayed discharges from hospitals; and improving how hospitals manage surges in demand for emergency care. Funding of €40 million has been provided for a Winter Initiative, which will provide for expanded services over the next two winters.

General measures to reduce hospital overcrowding include commitments to progress new ED facilities for University Hospital Galway and Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. These are in addition to capacity expansions already underway in University Hospital Galway and Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, and new ED facilities which have already opened at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, in Wexford General Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 318. 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 the degree to which waiting times can be reduced for elective procedures in hospitals throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23066/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris A key challenge for our health system is ensuring timely access to health services. There has been a considerable increase in demand for care in our health system in recent years. 100,000 patients have an elective in-patient procedure and 800,000 have a planned day case procedure. Up to the end of May 2016, there has been an increase of over 19,000 scheduled in-patient / daycase procedures, in comparison to the same period in 2015.

The key issue for patients is how long they wait. It is important to note that approximately 60% of patients wait less than 6 months for their required inpatient/daycase procedure and that 91% of patients wait less than the maximum permissible waiting time of 15 months for that procedure.

I met with the HSE National Director for Acute Hospitals on Friday, 15 July, regarding proposed measures to tackle waiting lists. I requested that the HSE prepare an action plan, setting out specific measures that the HSE will implement, in conjunction with hospitals, between now and the end of 2016 in order to tackle waiting lists. I have agreed with the HSE that the action plan should focus on process improvement in how hospitals manage their waiting lists, with a particular focus on validating waiting lists, as well as on actions to reduce waiting times for those patients waiting longest. The HSE will report to my Department on a regular basis regarding progress on implementing the action plan.

This Government recognises that a sustained commitment to improving waiting times is required. Consequently, the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to €15m funding to the NTPF to address waiting lists in 2017, as part of the Programme’s commitment to a continued investment of €50m per year to reduce waiting lists. This commitment seeks to utilise the expertise of the NTPF to further assist the HSE in addressing specific waiting list pressures. The Department of Health has commenced engagement with the NTPF and the HSE to deliver on these waiting list commitments in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

Nursing Home Beds Data

 319. 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 the extent to which step-down, public or private nursing home beds are available or are being made available throughout the country with particular reference to general hospitals that have experienced overcrowding at accident and emergency departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23067/16]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

 320. 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 the number of persons awaiting attention in respect of various elective procedures at various public hospitals throughout the country; the number of those who have already been seen by a consultant and the number awaiting consultation; the number of those identified as being in need of surgical procedures but still on waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23068/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the 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.

Hospital Facilities

 321. 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 the position in regard to the endoscopy unit at Naas General Hospital, County Kildare; if preparation of tender documents has been concluded; when the tendering process is likely to be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23106/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the 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.

Respite Care Services Provision

 322. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when a person (details supplied) will be awarded a Health Service Executive respite care package of 26 hours a week with one overnight; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23120/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy. If the Deputy has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, the Deputy can contact my Private Office and they will follow the matter up with the HSE.

Accident and Emergency Departments Waiting Times

 323. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he is aware of the crisis in the emergency department at Limerick University Hospital, particularly in respect of the number of persons on trolleys; his plans to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23124/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the 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.

Accident and Emergency Departments

 324. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the expected opening date of the new emergency department at Limerick University Hospital; his plans to incorporate the existing accident and emergency staff into the new environment; if he has spoken to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, the Irish Medical Organisation and other relevant unions and representative associations on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23125/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the 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.


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