Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 816-845
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Health Reports
 Header Item General Practitioner Data
 Header Item Hospital Beds Data
 Header Item Disability Services Provision
 Header Item Health Reports
 Header Item Health Reports
 Header Item Health Reports
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments
 Header Item Regional Health Forums
 Header Item HSE Staff Data

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 943 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 816-845

Departmental Properties

 816. 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 the public health centre in Knockanana, County Wicklow which has been unused for a number of years; the prospects of it being used for community purposes as proposed by persons (details supplied) who donated the land to the Eastern Health Board for the construction of the health centre in the 1980s; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13228/17]

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 Reports

 817. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on the fact that 73% of respondents to a research study by an organisation (details supplied) are of the view that drinking to excess is part of Irish culture; the actions his Department will take in view of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13244/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy): Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy The Drinkaware survey findings reflect the evidence in a previous study 'Alcohol: Public Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours'. The Health Research Board study reported that 85% of respondents believe that the current level of alcohol consumption in Ireland is too high, with 73% believing that Irish society tolerates high-levels of alcohol consumption.

Recent findings suggest that the majority of Irish drinkers engage in excessive or problematic drinking behaviours and that Irish drinkers underestimate their alcohol intake. Ireland’s alcohol consumption remains in the top 5 among EU28 Member States. Ireland came fourth among 36 OECD countries for alcohol consumption, after Estonia, Austria and France. Ireland was second in the WHO European Region (which has the highest consumption in the world) in relation to binge drinking with 39% of the population misusing alcohol in this manner at least monthly. This statistic was confirmed by national research through the Healthy Ireland survey, which found that drinking to excess on a regular basis is commonplace throughout the population with almost 4 in 10 (39%) of drinkers binge drinking on a typical drinking occasion and a quarter of them doing so at least once a week. Provisional figures released from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners indicate that our alcohol consumption levels increased in 2016 to 11.46 litres per capita.

It is essential to have a public health policy response which seeks to reduce the number of people engaged in the harmful use of alcohol. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill contains a package of measures aimed at reducing alcohol consumption in Ireland to 9.1 litres (the OECD average in 2012) per person per annum by 2020, and to reduce the harms associated with alcohol. The Bill includes provisions for:

- minimum unit pricing;

- health labelling of alcohol products;

- the regulation of advertising and marketing of alcohol;

- the regulation of sponsorship;

- separation of alcohol products in mixed trading retail outlets; and

- the regulation of the sale and supply of alcohol in certain circumstances

The Bill along with other measures will bring about a cultural shift in how we view and consume alcohol. As a consequence we will see an improvement in both physical and mental health and wellbeing in the population. The Bill commenced Committee Stage in the Seanad on 26 October 2016, and will resume during this session of the Oireachtas.

General Practitioner Data

 818. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the details of general practitioners in the Ballybrack and Shankill area that have a GMS list and are still accepting new patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13257/17]

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 for direct reply.

Hospital Beds Data

 819. 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 number of hospital beds per 1,000 of the population; if there is data relating to these figures in a comparable context in respect of other OECD countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13265/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As of December, 2016, the Health Service Executive (HSE) data indicate that acute hospital bed capacity numbered 12,644 beds, comprised of 10,507 inpatient and 2,137 day case beds. The most recent bed capacity figures of 2.8 per 1,000 population recorded by the OECD for the Republic of Ireland do not include capacity in private hospitals, unlike figures recorded in many other EU countries. It should be noted that the international definitions of hospital beds do not include day beds.

The Private Hospitals Association estimate the current aggregate bed capacity of their member hospitals at approximately 2,500 beds. Inclusion of private capacity would hypothetically give a figure of approximately 3.2 hospital beds per 1,000 population (a total of just over 15,200), based on the population of approximately 4.76 million recorded by the 2016 Census. The OECD average (based on 2013 figures) is 4.8 hospital beds per 1000 population.

It is important to note that our population is younger than those of European nations with high hospital bed numbers, although numbers of over 65s are increasing at the rate of almost 20,000 per year. This population cohort uses 53% of acute hospital capacity.

In line with the commitment made in the Programme for a Partnership Government, a Bed Capacity Review is underway. The review will be comprehensive and will examine capacity requirements in primary and social care in addition to acute hospitals. It is also intended that private hospitals will come within the scope of the review.

Disability Services Provision

 820. Deputy Colm Brophy Information on Colm Brophy Zoom on Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of the provision of needs assessments by assessment of needs officers in areas (details supplied) in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13277/17]

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 Deputy's questions relate to service matters, I have arranged for the questions to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Reports

 821. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the national review of cardiac services will be undertaken; when the terms of reference will be published; the person or body that will be carrying out the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13293/17]

 822. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris whether the national review of cardiac services will be an independent review or an internal HSE review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13294/17]

 823. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if cardiologists in the south east will be consulted prior to the completion of the national review of cardiac services, specifically in relation to University Hospital Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13295/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 821 to 823, inclusive, together.

  It is proposed that a national review of cardiology services will be undertaken this year. This review will seek to ensure that as many patients as possible have access, on a 24/7 basis, to safe and sustainable emergency interventions following a heart attack. I expect the review to be completed before the end of the year.

  As the review is still in a formative stage, neither the Terms of Reference nor the methodology have yet been determined. However I expect that the views of relevant stakeholders will be sought and considered in the context of the review.

Health Reports

 824. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the HSE plans to implement the Herity report in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13296/17]

 825. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on the fact that persons living in the south east cannot avail of cardiology services at the weekend and after 5 p.m. in the evening until 9 a.m. in the morning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13297/17]

 826. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on the fact that it is impossible to get from University Hospital Waterford to Cork University Hospital by car or ambulance within the 90 minute timeframe for successful intervention for cardiac arrests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13298/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 824 to 826, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that in his review of cath lab services in UHW, Dr Niall Herity recommended that the UHW cath lab should operate as an elective lab which provides all specialised cardiac services except interventional treatment for patients who are having heart attacks (PPCI). Dr. Herity also recommended that the current 9 to 5 provision of these services should cease in order to allow the hospital to focus on the much larger volume of planned cath lab work. Investment was recommended to enable the hospital to provide additional cath lab capacity.

I accept Dr Herity's findings and recommendations and have provided additional funding of €0.5m for the UHW in 2017 which will enable the hospital to provide 8 hours additional cath labs activity each week. However, in relation to the cessation of PPCI services at the hospital, as Minister for Health, I want to be sure that any service changes which we implement, will result in improved services for patients using that service. Therefore, I have asked my Department to address the implications of this recommendation by undertaking a national review of all PPCI services with the aim to ensure that as many patients as possible have access, on a 24/7 basis, to safe and sustainable emergency interventions following a heart attack. In the meantime, patients in the South East will continue to have access to out of hours PPCI services at Cork University Hospital (CUH) or St James's Hospital, Dublin.

In his report, Dr Herity examined data provided by the National Ambulance Service and determined that the average emergency ambulance journey time from UHW to CUH was one hour and twenty eight minutes. Dr Herity examined actual, real time information, from 36 separate ambulance transfers undertaken between October 2015 and June 2016 and concluded that the 'blue light' journey time from UHW to CUH is less than 90 minutes.

Health Reports

 827. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the planned national review of primary percutaneous coronary intervention, PPCI, will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13301/17]

 828. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the national review into PPCI services will be an independent clinical review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13302/17]

 829. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he has identified the person or persons that will conduct the national review of PPCI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13303/17]

 834. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if terms of reference will be drawn up for the national review of PPCI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13308/17]

 835. 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 national guidelines that will underpin a national review of PPCI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13309/17]

 836. 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 consultations that will take place in respect of a national review of PPCI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13310/17]

 838. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a national review into PPCI is being undertaken by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13312/17]

 839. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if an effective catchment population or the actual population of the south east will underpin the national review of PPCI services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13313/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 827 to 829, inclusive, 834 to 836, inclusive, 838 and 839 together.

It is proposed that a national review of cardiology services will be undertaken this year. This review will seek to ensure that as many patients as possible have access, on a 24/7 basis, to safe and sustainable emergency interventions following a heart attack. I expect the review to be completed before the end of the year.

As the review is still in a formative stage neither the Terms of Reference nor the methodology have yet been determined. However I expect that the views of relevant stakeholders will be sought and considered in the context of the review.

Hospital Services

 830. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the option of having two distinct PPCI centres here namely a 24-7 service or a nine-to-five service as per the model of ACS services will remain in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13304/17]

 831. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if there are grounds upon which emergency PPCI services will cease at University Hospital Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13305/17]

 832. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will rule out ceasing limited PPCI services at University Hospital Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13306/17]

 837. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the national review of PPCI services is regarding the way to implement the recommendations of the Herity report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13311/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 830 to 832, inclusive, and 837 together.

The Deputy will be aware that in his review of cath lab services in UHW, Dr Niall Herity recommended that the UHW cath lab should operate as an elective lab which provides all specialised cardiac services except interventional treatment for patients who are having heart attacks (PPCI). Dr. Herity also recommended that the current 9 to 5 provision of these services should cease in order to allow the hospital to focus on the much larger volume of planned cath lab work.

I accept Dr Herity's findings and recommendations and have provided additional funding of €.5m for the UHW in 2017 which will enable the hospital to provide 8 hours additional cath labs activity each week. However, in relation to the cessation of PPCI services at the hospital, as Minister for Health, I want to be sure that any service changes which we implement, will result in improved services for patients using that service. Therefore, I have asked my Department to address the implications of this recommendation by undertaking a national review of all PPCI services with the aim to ensure that as many patients as possible have access, on a 24/7 basis, to safe and sustainable emergency interventions following a heart attack. In the meantime, patients in the South East will continue to have access to out of hours PPCI services at Cork University Hospital (CUH) or St James's Hospital, Dublin.

Hospital Services

 833. 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 to be treated and the length of time a mobile cath lab will be in place at University Hospital Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13307/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In recent months, the South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG) has made very significant progress to address waiting list for cardiology procedures at University Hospital Waterford (UHW). Waiting list data, compiled and published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), provides evidence that the cardiology inpatient/daycase procedure waiting list at the hospital has reduced by over 28% since the end of November, and the number of persons waiting longer than a year has reduced by some 87%. At the end of February 2017, a total of 433 patients remained on the list.

The focus on the UHW cardiology waiting list continues. The SSWHG has a robust plan in place to address the remaining backlog which involves access to cath lab capacity across the region. In addition, as recommended in the Herity Report, an additional €.5m funding has been provided to UHW in 2017, which will enable the hospital to provide 2 additional cath lab sessions (8 hours) per week.

The Deputy may also be aware that I have written to the HSE Director General requesting that consideration be given to a targeted Cardiology Waiting List initiative. Such an initiative would, I envisage, incorporate a range of measures including the sharing of facilities and resources within and between Hospital Groups, the use of any appropriate facilities in the private hospital sector, as well as the deployment of a mobile cath lab. In that context, I expect that the HSE will examine the need to provide a mobile cath lab for a specific period in UHW, having regard to the current waiting list. I look forward to receiving the HSE's proposals in this regard.

  Questions Nos. 834 to 836, inclusive, answered with Question No. 827.

  Question No. 837 answered with Question No. 830.

  Questions Nos. 838 and 839 answered with Question No. 827.

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

 840. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will confirm that in line with the one person one salary principle, no public servant that is a member of a State board or agency under the control of his Department is currently in receipt of remuneration in the form of board fees and if any such remuneration is being paid that such payment will be discontinued and payments that were wrongfully paid will be reclaimed. [13330/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris My officials have checked with the agencies under the aegis of my Department, including the HSE, and each of the agencies has confirmed that in line with the one person one salary principle, no public servant who is a member of a State board or agency is currently in receipt of remuneration in the form of board fees.

Hospital Appointments Status

 841. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of a MRI scan for a person (details supplied).  [13332/17]

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.

Hospital Appointments Status

 842. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the steps he will take to ensure that a person (details supplied) is immediately admitted to the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, to have a procedure carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13345/17]

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.

Accident and Emergency Departments

 843. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he has satisfied himself that the various initiatives taken addressing overcrowding at accident and emergency departments throughout the country and especially in counties Sligo and Leitrim are adequate and sufficient to address the issue at present and in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13348/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris On 9 September the HSE launched the ‘Winter Initiative Plan 2016-2017’ which provided €40 million of additional funding for winter preparedness. This Initiative was developed to manage the expected winter surge in demand for hospital care in an integrated way across Primary, Acute and Social Care.

A range of practical measures to address ED overcrowding were implemented as part of this initiative which delivered; 90 newly-opened additional beds in the Mercy Hospital Cork, University Hospital Galway, the Mater, Beaumont and Mullingar Hospital; and a reduction in delayed discharges nationally from a high of 659 earlier in 2016 to 565 as of the 14 March, freeing up hospitals beds to alleviate ED pressures. Aids and appliances to over 4,450 patients, as well as around 1,000 additional homecare packages and 615 additional transitional care beds approvals were also provided, all enabling patients to be discharged from hospital sooner.

In additional HSE data, as of 14 March, indicates that approximately 3.5% less patients were waiting on trolleys in the system as compared to the same day last year.

While all hospitals have experienced ED pressures this winter and increased demand for ED services, Sligo University Hospital has been performing better than the national average in terms of patient experience times and trolley numbers, with performance being monitored on a daily basis by the HSE’s Special Delivery Unit.

In line with the commitment made in the Programme for a Partnership Government, a Bed Capacity Review is underway. The review will be comprehensive and will examine capacity requirements in primary and social care in addition to acute hospitals. It is also intended that private hospitals will come within the scope of the review.

Regional Health Forums

 844. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to review the standing orders of the regional health forums across the State; the frequency of their meetings; and if he will prioritise a national meeting of regional health forums. [13369/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Section 42 of the Health Act 2004 provided for the setting up of a system of four Regional Health Forums. The forums were established with effect from 1 January 2006 by The Health Act 2004 (Regional Health Forums) Regulations 2005, SI No. 797 of 2005. Each forum can meet up to six times per year. Each forum can establish two Committees which may meet four times per year. Section 16 of SI No. 797 indicates that subject to the provisions of the Regulations, a Forum shall regulate, by standing orders or otherwise, its procedure or business and may amend or revoke standing orders.

HSE Staff Data

 845. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of HSE staff that have been removed from employment following reviews of services or assessment of practices since 2010. [13370/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter.


Last Updated: 03/03/2020 15:02:16 First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page