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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 596-611
 Header Item Organ Donation
 Header Item Patient Data
 Header Item Medicinal Products Reimbursement
 Header Item Ambulance Service Response Times
 Header Item Legislative Measures
 Header Item Home Help Service
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments
 Header Item Hospital Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Maternity Services
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland
 Header Item Hospital Procedures
 Header Item Vaccination Programme Data

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 596-611

Organ Donation

 596. 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 an issue (details supplied); if there is anything being done at present by his Department to encourage more persons to carry organ donation cards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18121/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris My Department is working closely with HSE's Organ Donation Transplantation Ireland (ODTI) to support initiatives aimed at increasing the levels of organ donation and transplantation. This has included the allocation of increased funding in recent years. Additional staff have been recruited to foster a strong culture of organ donation, to optimise conversion rates and to ultimately increase the number of transplants that are carried out. Last year saw the second highest annual number of organ transplants carried out in Ireland, with a record 50 living donor kidney transplants.

My Department is supportive of the Irish Kidney Association (IKA), and the work it does to raise awareness of organ donation, including through the Organ Donor Card initiative. Funding of €180,000 was provided to IKA in 2016 by the Health Service Executive and further funding is being made available this year. Much of the emphasis in relation to awareness is on encouraging people to discuss organ donation with their loved ones to ensure we can avail of opportunities for organ donation when they arise.

Work on scoping the parameters of legislation for a Human Tissue Bill is currently being undertaken in my Department. It is envisaged that this Bill will provide for an opt-out system of consent for organ donation. Under the proposed system, consent will be deemed unless the person has, while alive, registered his/her wish not to become an organ donor after death. However, it is proposed that, even though consent is deemed, the next-of-kin will always be consulted prior to removing any organ ("soft" opt-out system). The aim is to make organ donation the norm in situations where the opportunity arises.

Patient Data

 597. 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 number of patients in acute hospital beds awaiting transfer to a nursing home facility as a percentage of the total acute hospital beds in the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18138/17]

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

Medicinal Products Reimbursement

 598. 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 publish the evidence relied upon by the HSE to change the criteria for reimbursement of test strips for type 2 diabetics, if general practitioners are entitled to request more than the recommended amount of reimbursable test strips for persons with type 2 non-insulin diabetes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18139/17]

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

Ambulance Service Response Times

 599. 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 average waiting time and the maximum waiting time in each quarter of 2016, for an emergency ambulance in Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Dublin, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18140/17]

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.

Legislative Measures

 600. 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 consider amending the Health Act 2007 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18141/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) was established 10 years ago to undertake a variety of tasks. These are set out in Section 8 of the Health Act 2007, and include the setting of standards on safety and quality for services provided by or on behalf of the HSE, for nursing homes, for disability centres and to monitor compliance with those standards. HIQA is also empowered, under section 9 of the Act, to undertake investigations into services on a number of grounds, including where it believes that there is a serious risk to the health or welfare of a person receiving the services, or where it is directed to do so by the Minister.

  It is also worth noting that HIQA undertakes a number of other significant tasks, including evaluating the clinical and cost effectiveness of new medical technologies, and improving the quality of the health information which is available to the health service.

  In carrying out its duties, and in particular the sensitive work of conducting inspections and investigations, HIQA has demonstrated its independence on numerous occasions. However, in common with all State Agencies, HIQA is subject to appropriate oversight arrangements, for example in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's Code of Practice for the Governance of State Agencies. It is also entirely appropriate that all State Agencies, including those exercising vital regulatory functions such as HIQA, should be cognisant of Government objectives in order to ensure work programmes are appropriately tailored to the overall direction of travel of Government policy.

  I would also note that HIQA has no reporting, accountability or other similar relationship with the HSE.

Home Help Service

 601. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the HSE will provide details of the pilot home help scheme which is currently being undertaken in an area (details supplied) in County Kerry; when it started; and the consultation that has been undertaken with the families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18143/17]

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.

Accident and Emergency Departments

 602. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the new accident and emergency department in University Hospital Limerick will be opened. [18144/17]

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.

Hospital Accommodation Provision

 603. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the new ward in Nenagh Hospital will be completed and operational. [18145/17]

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.

Departmental Expenditure

 604. 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 use to which the contingency of €36 million in his Department is being applied. [18146/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Within the total funding available to the HSE in 2017 a sum of €36.5m is being held by my Department in respect of specific service initiatives. This funding will be released to the HSE on approval of implementation plans and commencement of specific developments. Funding is being held to support the following:

  - Primary Care - €18.5m for service developments including reduced prescription charges for >70s

  - Mental Health - €15m to initiate new developments in 2017 with a recurring full-year value of up to €35m

  - Social Inclusion - €3m to invest in services relating to addiction.

Maternity Services

 605. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on whether the national maternity strategy will be implemented in time and on budget. [18147/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Ireland's first National Maternity Strategy - Creating A Better Future Together 2016 - 2026 - will be implemented on a phased basis. Implementation will be led by the newly established National Women & Infants Health Programme; the Programme is drawing up a detailed action plan to inform this process. This work includes the identification of both capital and revenue funding requirements, which will in turn inform the annual Estimates process over the lifetime of the Strategy.

  €3 million development funding provided for maternity services in 2016 was allocated in line with the Strategy, and included funding for additional staff, including 100 midwives, the development of specialist bereavement teams and for the implementation of the Maternal and Newborn Clinical Management System. Increased funding of €6.8m will be provided for maternity services in 2017 which will allow for the continued implementation of the Strategy.

Hospital Services

 606. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to change services that are provided in Portlaoise General Hospital [18148/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris My Department and the HSE are committed to securing and developing the role of Portlaoise Hospital within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.

Reports on Portlaoise Hospital in recent years point to the need for reconfiguration of some services to ensure patients are treated in the most appropriate setting by specialist staff who can safely meet their needs. The HSE has submitted a draft Action Plan to my Department and it is currently being reviewed in detail.

The most important issue in relation to any changes at Portlaoise Hospital is that patient safety and good quality outcomes must come first. Any changes to services at Portlaoise, once approved, will be undertaken in a planned and orderly manner to further improve services for patients at the hospital and will take account of existing patient flows and demands in other hospitals, as well as the need to develop particular services at Portlaoise in the context of the overall service configuration in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland

 607. 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 status of a person's (details supplied) application for a nursing pin [18163/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I wish to thank the Deputy for the matter raised.

  Given that this is an operational matter, it is appropriate that it should be dealt with by the NMBI. I have referred the Deputy's question to the NMBI for attention and direct reply within 10 working days.

Hospital Procedures

 608. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of orthopaedic operations carried out in the Regional Hospital Tullamore in 2015 and 2016 and to date in 2017 in respect of hip replacement operations, knee replacement operations and other hip and knee operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18166/17]

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

Vaccination Programme Data

 609. 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 amount of money spent on the pandemrix vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18167/17]

 610. 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 number of doses of pandemrix which were purchased; the number of doses which were used during the swine flu vaccination programme; the position regarding the remainder of those unused vaccines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18168/17]

 611. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on the decision to purchase the pandemrix vaccine and to facilitate its use post-November 2009, when the Irish Medicines Board was in possession of information which showed that it had a far greater likelihood of serious adverse impacts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18169/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 609 to 611, inclusive, together.

A public health alert was received from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 24 April 2009 indicating that human cases of influenza type A (H1N1) virus infection had been identified in the US and in Mexico. The Department of Health activated the National Plan for pandemic influenza. The plan was accompanied by guidance that had been developed by the Pandemic Influenza Expert Group (PIEG) which was updated regularly during the pandemic. On Thursday, 11 June, following consideration by its Emergency Committee, the WHO raised the Influenza alert phase to Pandemic level 6 which officially declares a pandemic.

Ireland moved from the containment to the mitigation phase on 16 July 2009. The aim of the mitigation strategy was to limit the impact of the virus in the population. This was achieved by a combination of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures. Non-pharmaceutical measures included emphasising via media campaigns the importance of personal measures to limit spread, such as isolation if sick, covering mouth with tissues when coughing or sneezing and hygiene measures such as washing hands.

Pharmaceutical measures included treating those at risk of more severe disease with antivirals and vaccinating when the vaccine became available. The HSE had contracts in place for the provision of pandemic vaccine with Baxter for 4.25 million doses and GSK for 3.45 million doses. Approximately 3 million doses of Pandemic vaccine were delivered to Ireland – 600,000 Baxter and 2.4 million GSK.

Based on the advices of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee ‘at risk’ groups were defined and prioritised for vaccination commencing in October 2009. Over 1.1 million pandemic vaccinations were recorded, giving a 25% uptake for the total population. The vaccine uptakes among the priority groups were 50% for those medically at risk, 32% for pregnant women (was 45% during early part of programme), 31% for health care workers, 60% for children aged 6 months to 4 years, 39% for children aged 5-14 years and 25% for those aged 65 years and older. The public pandemic vaccination campaign ended on 31 March 2010. However, following a full assessment of the situation at that time the vaccine continued to be made available free of charge to the “at risk” groups through General Practice and Maternity Units until September 2010.

The first reports concerning a possible link between pandemic influenza vaccination and narcolepsy came to international notice in the second half of 2010. In August 2010, the Swedish pharmacovigilance authority reported that it was investigating six cases of narcolepsy reported by health care professionals as a possible adverse event following the use of Pandemrix vaccine, used during the H1N1 2009 pandemic. This was followed later that month by reports from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) noting there had been a more than expected number of cases of narcolepsy in children and adolescents that year. The Irish Medicines Board (now the HPRA) received reports of two confirmed cases of narcolepsy following vaccination with pandemic vaccines by the end of March 2011.


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