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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 380-407
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Nursing Home Services
 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme Data
 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme Administration
 Header Item Nursing Home Services
 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme Review
 Header Item Health Services Staff
 Header Item HSE Reports
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Retirements
 Header Item HIV-AIDS Programmes
 Header Item Occupational Therapy
 Header Item Occupational Therapy
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Primary Care Reimbursement Service Payments
 Header Item Drugs Payment Scheme Administration
 Header Item Cancer Screening Programmes
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Hospitals Data
 Header Item Health and Social Care Professionals Regulation
 Header Item Medicinal Products Availability
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments Closures
 Header Item Hospitals Data
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item HSE Properties

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 937 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 83 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 380-407

Medical Card Eligibility

 380. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the date that medical cards will issue to those in receipt of domiciliary care allowance as announced in budget 2017. [5450/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I received permission from Government to draft the new Bill in December. 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.

Nursing Home Services

 381. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the average length of stay of residents in public nursing homes and private nursing homes for each of the years 2010 to 2016. [5482/17]

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.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Data

 382. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the total financial contributions by residents of nursing homes of all types made under the NHSS scheme in 2016. [5483/17]

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.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Administration

 383. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if his attention has been drawn to concerns regarding inappropriate charging of residents in some private nursing homes. [5484/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) is a system of financial support for people who require long-term nursing home care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost.

The NHSS covers the cost of the standard components of long-term residential care which are:

- Nursing and personal care appropriate to the level of care needs of the person;

- Bed and board;

- Basic aids and appliances necessary to assist a person with the activities of daily living; and

- Laundry service.

A person's eligibility for other schemes, such as the medical card scheme or the drugs payment scheme, is unaffected by participation in the NHSS or residence in a nursing home.

Although the NHSS covers core living expenses, residents can still incur some costs in a nursing home, e.g. social programmes, newspapers or hairdressing. In recognition of this, anyone in receipt of financial support under the NHSS retains at least 20% of their income. The minimum amount that is retained is the equivalent of 20% of the State Pension (Non-Contributory). An operator should not seek payment from residents for items which are covered by the NHSS, the medical card or any other existing scheme.

Part 7 of the Health Act 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2013 stipulates that the registered provider of the nursing home must agree a contract in writing with each resident on their admission to the nursing home. This contract must include details of the services to be provided to that resident and the fees to be charged. Residents should never be charged fees which are not set out in the contract. The Department of Health and the HSE are not a party to such contracts which are concluded between each resident and their nursing home.

Registered providers of nursing home care are obliged to provide an accessible and effective complaints procedure. Concerns about additional charges should in the first instance be taken up with the nursing home provider. The Office of the Ombudsman can examine complaints about the actions of a range of public bodies and, from 24 August 2015, complaints relating to the administrative actions of private nursing homes. The Office of the Ombudsman normally only deals with a complaint once the individual has already gone through the complaints procedure of the private nursing home concerned.

Nursing Home Services

 384. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he is satisfied that the levels of nursing cover and skills required to care for residents in nursing homes and arrangements for general practitioner support are in line with international best practice; and his plans to address shortcomings. [5485/17]

 386. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if residents in all nursing homes are entitled to access independent advocacy regardless of the views of family members and nursing home proprietors. [5487/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I propose to take Questions Nos. 384 and 386 together.

The Health Information and Quality Authority is the independent authority established under the Health Act 2007 to drive continuous improvement and to monitor safety and quality in Ireland's health and personal social care services. Since 2009 all nursing homes - public, voluntary, and private have been registered and inspected by HIQA.

This responsibility is underpinned by a comprehensive framework, including the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People and the Health Act, 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations, 2013. The Regulations require that registered providers must ensure that the number and skill mix of staff is appropriate having regard to the assessed needs of the residents and the size and layout of the designated centre. In addition registered providers shall, in so far as is reasonably practical, ensure that a resident has access to independent advocacy services.

It is the responsibility of HIQA to assess whether residential services are providing high quality, safe and effective services and supports to residents, and to ensure that any issues or deficits are addressed to the satisfaction of the Authority. HIQA’s programme of both scheduled and unannounced inspections is aimed at ensuring that standards are maintained and where issues of non-compliance arise, that these are addressed and rectified. If a nursing home is found not to be in compliance with the Regulations it may either fail to achieve or lose its registration status. HIQA also has wide discretion in deciding whether to impose conditions of registration on nursing homes

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Review

 385. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to ensure that the views of older persons and their experiences of the NHSS will be included in the ongoing reform of the scheme. [5486/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) is a system of financial support for those in need of long-term nursing home care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their income and assets while the State pays the balance of the cost. The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.

When the Scheme commenced in 2009, a commitment was made that it would be reviewed after three years. The report of the Review was published in July 2015. In advance of the Review, submissions were sought from groups or bodies who wished to make a contribution, including groups representative of the needs and views of older persons. An Interdepartmental/Agency Working Group has been established to progress the recommendations contained in the Review. This Group is chaired by the Department of Health and includes representatives from the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the HSE, the Revenue Commissioners and, when required, the National Treatment Purchase Fund. An initial report on progress was submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Health in September 2016. Once all of the relevant Review recommendations have been considered, any amendments required to the Scheme will be identified.

  Question No. 386 answered with Question No. 384.

Health Services Staff

 387. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will investigate the matters raised by a person (details supplied) regarding their employment with the HSE and the care of a patient; if he will bring about a resolution to the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5504/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health Act 2004, the HSE has responsibility for operational issues which includes the determination of the terms and conditions of employment for its employees. I advised the Deputy recently that the HSE are dealing with this matter in accordance with the HSE HR policies and procedures and that the HSE continues with its efforts to bring the matter to a conclusion which will involve direct engagement with the employee.

HSE Reports

 388. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the HSE report relative to a care home in the south east and a case (details supplied) will be published; when the inquiry into the same matters will commence; the timeline involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5506/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The reports referred to by the Deputy relate to the case of Grace, a pseudonym for the young woman who resided in a former foster home in the South East which is the subject of abuse allegations. It has been my view from the outset that the HSE-commissioned reports by Conal Devine and Resilience Ireland which are related to this case should be published as soon as possible.

I conveyed this view to the HSE on 1 November 2016, asking them to re-examine the issues around the publication of the two reports and to give serious consideration to publishing both reports, appropriately redacted. This followed the review by Conor Dignam SC which recommended further engagement between the HSE and An Garda Síochána regarding publication.

Following a meeting between senior officials of the HSE and An Garda Síochána, the HSE has confirmed that it intends to publish redacted versions of both reports before the end of February. Arrangements are being put in place by the HSE to ensure the contents of both reports are conveyed in a meaningful way to service users with varying degrees of disability. Given the potential impact of the reports on service users, their families and the employees of relevant agencies, a communications plan is also being developed by the HSE and dedicated teams are being put in place to provide all necessary assistance and supports to those impacted by the publication of both reports.

I wish to reiterate that the Government, for its part, is fully committed to the earliest possible establishment of the Commission of Investigation into the matters addressed by the reports. In that regard work is ongoing to frame appropriate Terms of Reference which can deliver answers in a timely manner. The Government will be guided by legal advice to ensure that the Commission of Investigation can and will be established in a way which will enable it to do its work correctly and efficiently.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

 389. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5509/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I will first address the general issue of retirement age. An Interdepartmental Working Group, chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, was established in early 2016. This Group was to examine the issues arising from prevailing retirement ages for workers in both the public and private sectors, in the context of the increase in the State Pension age from 65 to 66 in 2014 and the scheduled further increases to the State Pension age in 2021 and 2028.

  The Group, whose Report was agreed by Government last August, considered policy around retirement age in both the public and private sectors, examining implications arising from retirement ages now and in the future. The Group identified a set of framework principles to underpin policy in the area and made a number of recommendations assigned to Government Departments and Employer bodies for follow-up in that regard. A copy of the Report is available online at www.per.gov.ie/en/report-of-the-interdepartmental-group-on-fuller-working-lives/.

  On foot of one of the recommendations of the Report, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, with Public Service employers, was tasked to review the current statutory and operational considerations giving rise to barriers to extended participation in the public service workforce up to and including the current age of entitlement to the Contributory State Pension. This review is currently underway and is expected to be completed by Q2 2017.

  In relation to the specific matter of the retention and recruitment of nursing staff there are many initiatives currently underway to improve nursing and midwifery staffing levels throughout the country. The number of nursing and midwifery staff increased by 1,650 whole time equivalents between December 2013 and December 2016, notwithstanding intense global competition for our nurses and midwives and the HSE is committed to increasing the number of permanent nursing and midwifery posts by over 1,200 in 2017.

HIV-AIDS Programmes

 390. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris further to the Topical Issue debate of 7 December 2016, if he will provide the timeline mentioned in the debate. [5526/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The National Sexual Health Strategy 2015-2020 was launched in October 2015. The strategy was developed in response to a recommendation of the National AIDS Strategy Committee on the need to establish clear leadership within the health sector around the area of sexual health. The Strategy contains 71 recommendations that address all aspects of sexual health and a Sexual Health Action Plan for 2015-2016 that contains 18 priority actions for immediate attention.

One of the priority actions identified in the Action Plan for 2016 is to 'Prioritise, develop and implement guidance to support clinical decision making for STI testing, screening and treatment and on the appropriate use of antiretroviral therapy in HIV prevention’. An Implementation Group has now been established within the HSE as an outcome of this action. This group will make recommendations on the appropriate use of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the overall context of the national approach to HIV prevention.

A multi-sectoral PrEP working group with professional and community representation has been established by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy programme to make recommendations on HIV PrEP in Ireland. The first meeting was held in May 2016. To inform the group’s work a report on population estimates of MSM (men who have sex with men) eligible and likely to avail of PrEP in Ireland using data from the MISI 2015 survey has been drafted and is at the consultation stage with a view to publication at the end of Quarter 1 2017. In response to a specific request from clinicians, practical guidance for health care professionals on caring for those accessing PrEP online was circulated by clinicians on the PrEP working group to the learned societies for specialists working in the area of HIV and STIs. Priority questions in relation to the feasibility, acceptability and uptake of HIV PrEP in Ireland have been identified and work has commenced work on identifying how these priority questions can be answered through a project within existing clinical infrastructures. The timeframe for commencement of such a project and the number of participants involved is not yet known.

The report on attitudes and beliefs of STI and HIV health care workers on timing of antiretroviral therapy and PrEP is complete. The results have been used to draft a HSE statement on the use of antiretroviral therapy for individuals living with HIV. This draft will be presented to the HSE leadership team in early 2017.

Occupational Therapy

 391. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of adults who have been waiting less than three months, between three and six months, between six and nine months, between nine and 18 months and more than 18 months for occupational therapy with occupational therapy services in County Sligo, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5542/17]

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.

Occupational Therapy

 392. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of children who have been waiting less than three months, between three and six months, between six and nine months, between nine and 18 months and more than 18 months for occupational therapy with occupational therapy services in County Sligo, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5543/17]

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.

Health Services Staff Data

 393. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of occupational therapists employed in the public health system in County Sligo; if there are any vacancies for occupational therapists in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5544/17]

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.

Primary Care Reimbursement Service Payments

 394. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will provide a breakdown of the additional €20 million for the primary care reimbursement service in 2017; the existing services that are being expanded; the new services being provided with this allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5553/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Budget 2017 provided an additional €20m in the HSE's budget for the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS).

€10m of the €20m was provided for the implementation of the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to extend medical cards to all children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance. The implementation of this DCA\Medical Card initiative will 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. In the region of 10,000 children in respect of whom a DCA payment is made and who do not have a Medical Card will benefit under this measure.

A further €10m was provided for a reduction in the prescription charge for over 70s medical card holders. The reduction, to €2 per item with a monthly cap of €20, down from €2.50 per item and €25 a month, will potentially benefit 330,000 medical card holders over 70.

Legislation to facilitate these two initiatives is currently being drafted.

Drugs Payment Scheme Administration

 395. Deputy Shane Cassells Information on Shane Cassells Zoom on Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will review underpayments to a person (details supplied) in County Meath under the drugs payment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5566/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As the particular issue raised relates to an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

Cancer Screening Programmes

 396. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if consideration will be given to extending the free cervical smear testing programme to include persons under 25 years of age or to extending the scheme such that a person under 25 years of age who requires a smear test, based on family history, can receive one through the scheme. [5570/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris CervicalCheck, the National Cervical Screening Programme, was introduced in 2008 and offers free smear tests to women aged 25-60. This is in line with international best practice.

Invasive cervical cancer is extremely rare in women aged under 25, with less than 5 women in this age group being diagnosed with this condition in Ireland each year. While changes in the cells of the cervix are very common for those under 25, in the vast majority of cases these changes will settle and return to normal without intervention. If the screening age was lowered to invite those under 25 for smear tests, young women could be subjected to unnecessary treatment that could have potential long-term negative effects on their health and fertility.

My Department encourages all women aged under 25 to be vigilant about their health and to consult their GP immediately if they have any symptoms which would raise the suspicion of cervical cancer. If necessary, their GP will refer them to a gynaecology clinic for further investigation. Similarly it is recommended that any woman concerned about cervical cancer on the basis of family history should discuss this with their GP.

My Department also encourages all 12-18 year old schoolgirls to avail of the free HPV vaccination which aims to protect against cervical cancer and which is offered in second level schools.

Services for People with Disabilities

 397. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony Information on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony Zoom on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the commencement date for the development of the rehabilitation unit in Bantry General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5578/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath 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.

Hospitals Data

 398. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony Information on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony Zoom on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of patients from west Cork who are and have been presenting at Cork University Hospital for dialysis over the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5579/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In relation to this particular query, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.

Health and Social Care Professionals Regulation

 399. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the current regulations for counselling bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5583/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Psychotherapists and counsellors are not currently regulated under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005. However, the Act provides that the Minister may, by regulation, designate a health and social care profession not already designated if he or she considers that it is appropriate and in the public interest to do so and if specified criteria have been met.

The regulation of a new profession under the Act involves a consultation process and the making of a number of statutory instruments by the Minister for Health and by the relevant registration board.

My Department has engaged in a consultation process in which interested persons and organisations were invited to formally submit their views on how the statutory regulation of the profession(s) should proceed. A total of 84 submissions were received on foot of the consultation process which concluded on 30th November 2016.

I am undertaking an examination of these submissions which will inform the approach to be adopted in progressing the statutory regulation of psychotherapists and counsellors.

I envisage that the next steps in the statutory regulation of the profession(s) under the Act will commence in the coming months with the submission of draft designation regulations to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

While the profession or professions of counsellor and psychotherapist are not currently designated under the 2005 Act, counsellors and psychotherapists are subject to legislation similar to other practitioners including consumer legislation, competition, contract and criminal law. There are also various regulatory controls on many counsellors and psychotherapists operating in Ireland.

The profession of psychologist, for example, is a designated profession under the 2005 Act which means that those psychologists who are counsellors and/or psychotherapists will begin to be regulated when the Psychologists Registration Board, which is due to be established during this year, opens its register.

Psychiatrists, some of whom practice psychotherapy, are regulated under the Medical Practitioners Act 2007. Also, counsellors/therapists working in the publicly funded health sector are required to have minimum qualifications set by the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004.

Medicinal Products Availability

 400. 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 when the HSE will consider including a new blood-glucose-monitoring system using skin sensors; when the HSE is due to meet the manufacturers of FreeStyle Libre; if he will provide an update on this meeting; if the manufacturer has made a completed application to the HSE for reimbursement of the device under the community drugs scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5584/17]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities

 401. 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 the reason 41 persons with disabilities moved into institutions in 2015, as revealed in the recently published 2015 annual report from the implementation group for Time to Move On From Congregated Settings: A Strategy for Community Inclusion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5585/17]

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 HSE is responsible for leading out on the recommendations on "Time to Move on from Congregated Settings - A Strategy for Community Inclusion", I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Accident and Emergency Departments Closures

 402. 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 alternative support measures that have been put in place since the closure of 24-hour accident and emergency care at Nenagh General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5587/17]

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.

Hospitals Data

 403. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of persons turned away from the psychiatric unit of University Hospital Waterford on 30 January 2017; if persons were turned away due to a lack of beds; the steps he will take to ensure persons have access to 24-7 psychiatric care in the south east; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5614/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As this is a service issue, this question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Appointments Status

 404. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when a person (details supplied) will be called for heart surgery in St. James's Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5619/17]

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 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.

HSE Properties

 405. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the way in which the decision by the Health Service Executive west that 14.2 acres at Merlin Park were surplus to need was reached; the name of the person who made the decision; when the decision was made; the assessment or business case upon which the decision was made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5620/17]

 406. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the 14.2 acres of land at Merlin Park was put for sale on the open market; if so, the details of the sales process, including the advertising process, the dates and publications in which the advertisements were published; the number of interested parties and the outcome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5621/17]

 407. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the agreement which has been reached between the Health Service Executive west and the proposed purchaser (details supplied) of the 14.2 acres of land at Merlin Park; the full details of same, including the status of the agreement; the purchase price; the zoning on which that purchase price was based; the way in which the agreement was reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5622/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 405 to 407, inclusive, together.

  The Deputy's questions have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply as the management of the healthcare property estate is a service matter.


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