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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 125 - 134
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Recruitment
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Trade Missions Expenditure
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item National Treatment Purchase Fund
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments
 Header Item General Medical Services Scheme
 Header Item Primary Care Centres Provision
 Header Item Medical Card Administration

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 936 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 125 - 134

Public Procurement Contracts

 125. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the extent to which public procurement procedures remain an asset or an obstacle in the context of economic recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3708/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Procurement reform is a key element of the Government's overall reform programme and is aimed at delivering increased value for money, more accurate and timely data and improvement in the capacity and capability of procurement across the public service.  The fragmented procurement arrangements across the public service facilitated amongst other things suppliers charging different public service bodies different prices for the same goods and services.  This was not sustainable, as the State could not afford to continue to purchase works, goods and services in a manner that undermines the efficient delivery of services.

The central procurement frameworks and contracts established by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) have been designed to optimise benefits including savings to the State through the strategic aggregation of its buying power.  Aggregation arrangements such as multi-supplier frameworks can, where appropriate, address local supplier issues.  

The reform of public procurement in Ireland is being carried out in a manner that recognises the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises in this country's economic recovery.  The aim is to drive fair, transparent and open competition in the marketplace but also to work with business to ensure that government procurement policies are business friendly

In the three years to the end of 2015, the OGP and its partner sector sourcing organisations in Health, Education, Local Government and Defence had enabled procurement savings of an estimated €160 million.   The 2016 procurement savings forecast is €91 million.

Given the budgetary pressures facing the public service, public procurement savings can support the dual objectives of meeting our fiscal targets and of maintaining/improving services for the public. The strengthening of procurement professionalisation will in turn provide public bodies who use the contracts and frameworks with increased certainty and reduced risk by providing them with compliant sourcing solutions. 

Finally, in relation to further reform of public procurement, the Government has committed in the Programme for Partnership Government to refining the new procurement structures in place and to make adjustments according to best international practice and in conjunction with Irish business. 

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

 126. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the full extent to date of recruitment throughout the public sector in the context of economic recovery; the expectation in respect of future recruitments throughout the sector by the end of the current year and thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3709/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, in my role as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I have overarching responsibility for workforce planning and recruitment to the Civil Service. In Budget 2015, it was announced that there will be a targeted programme of recruitment into the Civil Service to address service needs and a shortfall in key skills commencing in late 2014 and continuing.  The Deputy may wish to be aware that a number of open competitions have already taken place or are in process of taking for recruitment to the Civil Service.

 I understand from the Public Appointments Service, who are the independent recruiter for the civil service, that since then in the region of 3,800 civil servants, excluding temporary assignments, have been assigned to Government departments and offices across all general service grades from open competitions.

These increases would of course be offset by people leaving the Civil Service including retirements.

Recruitment plans for the public service more generally are a matter, in the first instance, for the Minister with responsibility for each of the relevant sectors of the public service.

EU Funding

 127. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the total number of project applications entered by the State under the European structural and investment funds for the period 2014 to 2021, per annum, in tabular form; the number of successful agreements to date; the estimated total expected drawdown of funds; and the total number of projects that support business growth and employability, skills development, investment and access to finance, develop green infrastructure and support social enterprise. [3732/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Within Ireland I, as Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, have overall responsibility for EU Cohesion Policy and primary responsibility for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  The Minister for Education & Skills has primary responsibility for the European Social Fund (ESF). These two Funds, along with the Cohesion Fund (from which Ireland no longer benefits), the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) (for which the Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine has responsibility) now constitute the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

  Ireland has been allocated a total of €3.3bn in ESI Funding for the 2014 -2020 period (€1.2bn of Structural Funds for the ERDF and the ESF, €2.2bn from the EAFRD and €148m for the EMFF).  The policy context for the application of these allocations is set out in Ireland's Partnership Agreement (http://www.per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Partnership-Agreement-Ireland-2014-2020.pdf) which is the overarching strategic document governing the ESI Funds.

  The EU Regulations governing the ESI Funds outline eleven categories, known as Thematic Objectives, under which ESI funding may be spent by Member States. The funding priorities identified for Ireland's ESI Funds take account of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the National Reform programme. In line with these and with a position paper prepared by the Commission, the funding priorities identified for the 2014-2020 period are:

  - promoting jobs and growth;

  - combating unemployment and social exclusion;

  - promoting R&D and ICT investment and the competitiveness of the business sector; and

  - promoting an environmentally friendly and resource efficient economy.

  These investment priorities are being progressed by several Government Departments and Agencies including, for example, the National Broadband Plan through the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment; the Rural Development Programme through the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine; and energy retrofitting of social housing through the Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government. Further details in relation to the individual Funds can be obtained from their Operational Programmes which can be found on the websites of the Managing Authorities for the Funds.

Trade Missions Expenditure

 128. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount of money spent in 2015 and 2016 on St. Patrick's Day trade missions; and the amount that will be spent in 2017 on St. Patrick's Day trade missions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3736/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As part of the Irish Governments St Patrick's Day trade missions, the then Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and officials travelled to Japan and Korea in 2015 and India in 2016. The cost of the trade mission for 2015 was €17,165.09 and €12,970.97 in 2016.

  The 2017 programme is not finalised.

Hospital Appointments Status

 129. 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 cataract operation in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3534/17]

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 National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

   In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.

National Treatment Purchase Fund

 130. 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 his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3537/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As the Deputy may be aware, in December 2016, I granted approval to the NTPF for the first tranche of funding, in the region of €5m, for an initiative focusing on daycase procedures. Under this initiative, the NTPF estimates that around 3,000 patients waiting 18 months or more for daycase procedures will be treated, with the aim that no patient will be waiting more than 18 months for daycase treatment by 30 June 2017. This Initiative will initially focus on key specialties with high numbers of long-waiting patients, including in Ophthalmology. While the associated tender process is ongoing, the NTPF has advised that there has been good engagement with all the major private hospitals and these hospitals are ready to play a significant role in this Initiative. It is expected that the outsourcing of treatment will commence shortly.

In addition, in December 2016, the Department wrote to the HSE requesting that it submit in January, a Waiting List Action Plan for 2017 in respect of both the Inpatient/Daycase Waiting List and the Outpatient Waiting List. The focus of these plans should be to ensure that no patient is waiting more than 15 months on either list by the end of October 2017. The HSE has been requested to develop the Inpatient/Daycase Waiting List Action Plan in conjunction with and supported by, the NTPF's proposal for utilisation of the remaining €10m of 2017 funding for patient treatment. I expect to make known the details of both plans in the coming weeks.

Accident and Emergency Departments

 131. 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 his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the accident and emergency department in University Limerick Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3538/17]

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.

General Medical Services Scheme

 132. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason a new device known as the freestyle libre flash glucose monitoring system for diabetics which replaces the painful testing with lancets, test strips and blood is not available on the long-term illness scheme; and if there are plans to include this on the scheme [3547/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, the HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug schemes; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Primary Care Centres Provision

 133. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris further to Parliamentary Question No. 209 of 17 November 2016, the progress of the primary care centre for Dundalk; the way in which Dundalk primary care centre will be delivered; if he will provide clarification regarding the term operational lease; if a preferred provider has been identified; the stage at which the process is currently at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3551/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.

Medical Card Administration

 134. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when children with additional needs in receipt of the domiciliary care allowance will be offered a full medical card automatically; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3558/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris My Department recently received permission from Government to draft the new Bill. This new legislation will effectively mean that all children in respect of whom a DCA payment is made will automatically qualify for a medical card and, therefore, no longer be subject to the medical card means test at any point in the future while in receipt of DCA. The legislation is currently being prepared and will be brought before the Oireachtas as quickly as possible. In addition to the preparation of the legislation, I have asked the HSE, so that the proposal can be implemented in a smooth and efficient manner, to commence the process of planning for the requirements of the scheme and how the cards will issue. 


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