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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 69 - 80
 Header Item Hospitals Expenditure
 Header Item Hospital Beds Data
 Header Item Ambulance Service Accommodation
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Departments
 Header Item Hospital Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Respite Care Services Provision
 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme Administration
 Header Item Health Services Reports

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 949 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 69 - 80

Hospitals Expenditure

 69. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the action that will be taken to address the gap of €5.6 million between projected spending and expected income at Kerry University Hospital in 2017. [20756/17]

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 the Deputy directly.

Hospital Beds Data

 70. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of psychiatry of old age beds specifically required nationwide under A Vision of Change, in view of demographic changes; the number now in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20747/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service issue, this question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

  Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 34.

Ambulance Service Accommodation

 72. 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 he has contacted the HSE regarding Parliamentary Questions Nos. 414 of 7 February 2017 and 510 of 11 April 2017 regarding the ambulance service at the Merlin Park site, in view of the fact that the current site is not fit for purpose and has given rise to health and safety concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20730/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Galway City Ambulance Base has been situated on a temporary site on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital since the summer of 2014, to facilitate the construction of a car park on the grounds of the University College Hospital Galway (UCHG). The re-location initially was to be of temporary duration of 6 – 8 months. However, due to other developments at UCHG in the interim, the hospital is no longer in a position to accommodate the return of the Ambulance Base.

While the temporary facility provided for the ambulance base is safe, there is a requirement to upgrade the facility as staff must now utilise this ambulance base for an extended period. Discussions are ongoing between the National Ambulance Service (NAS) management, HSE Estates and NAS staff regarding the temporary accommodation at Merlin Park in relation to refurbishment of the existing accommodation or suitable alternative solutions. Approximately €0.6m capital has been spent to date on the interim facilities at Merlin Park to accommodate the ambulance base.

NAS has been in contact with HSE Estates and hospital management in order to progress the improvements required for the temporary hospital facility as well as the development of a permanent ambulance base on the grounds of Merlin Park. NAS has also engaged with staff on this issue. In relation to the new ambulance base at Merlin Park, approval has been granted to progress the design to tender stage.

  Questions Nos. 73 and 74 answered with Question No. 20.

Accident and Emergency Departments

 75. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the special steps or initiatives taken since November 2016 in response to the deteriorating overcrowding situation; the status of these initiatives or steps that were announced; the preparations which are being made for winter 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20217/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Since the start of 2017 there have been approximately 5% less patients waiting on trolleys nationally compared to the same period last year.

As the Deputy will be aware, in September the HSE launched its ‘Winter Initiative Plan 2016-2017’ which provided €40 million of additional funding for winter preparedness.

A range of practical measures to address ED overcrowding were implemented, including 90 additional beds, aids and appliances for over 4,450 patients, around 1,000 extra homecare packages and 615 additional transitional care bed approvals. During the Winter Initiative, delayed discharges reduced from 638 in September 2016 to a low of 434 at the end of December and were maintained below 500 from mid-December through to end February. This had a positive impact on ED overcrowding and trolley numbers, in freeing up beds for use by patients awaiting admission to hospital.

My Department has also commenced a bed capacity review in line with the Programme for Government commitment. The intention is that this review will be broader than previous exercises that focused solely on acute bed capacity and will examine key elements of primary and community care infrastructure. This review will feed into the mid-term review of the capital programme. My Department and the HSE are committed to utilising the key learning from the Winter Initiative to develop a plan focused on working with hospitals to improve performance in relation to reducing the number of patients that have to wait on trolleys and the overall patient ED experience. This important work will provide a framework around the preparation of the 2017/2018 plans for Winter preparedness.

  Question No. 76 answered with Question No. 9.

Hospital Accommodation Provision

 77. 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 reason for the delay in opening the additional beds upstairs in the community hospitals in Kenmare and Dingle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20447/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Respite Care Services Provision

 78. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the steps he is taking to address the shortage of respite beds for persons with disabilities in a service provider in Fingal; the way he will address the cuts and serious loss of respite places throughout the country generally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20205/17]

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.

The Programme for Partnership Government states that the Government wishes to provide more accessible respite care to facilitate full support for people with a disability.

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.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Administration

 79. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the review of the fair deal scheme with regard to its impact on farming families will be completed. [20746/17]

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 NHSS 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. Arising out of the Review, a number of key issues have been identified for more detailed consideration across Departments and Agencies.

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 (NTPF). These recommendations include examining the treatment of business and farm assets for the purposes of the financial assessment element of the Scheme. This work is currently underway. 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. Changes which require legislative implementation will be addressed collectively; in that regard it is important to remember that the NHSS is largely underpinned by primary legislation.

The Programme for a Partnership Government has also committed to reviewing the NHSS to remove any discrimination against small businesses and family farms. This review is currently underway. I am committed to this review of the position with regard to family farms and small business for the purposes of the financial assessment element of the Scheme.

Health Services Reports

 80. Deputy Pat Casey Information on Pat Casey Zoom on Pat Casey asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he and the HSE have satisfied themselves that the terms of reference for the assurance review conducted into a service (details supplied) was sufficient to cover all complaints and allegations, including all protected disclosures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20197/17]

 86. 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 timeline for the implementation of all recommendations contained in a report (details supplied), in tabular form; the date for full publication of this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20196/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 86 together.

  The particular issues raised by the Deputy are service matters for the Health Service Executive (HSE). Accordingly I have arranged for the Deputy's questions to be referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.


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