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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 437-452
 Header Item Drug Treatment Programmes Availability
 Header Item Medical Card Delays
 Header Item Hospital Staff Issues
 Header Item Medical Card Appeals
 Header Item Mobility Allowance Applications
 Header Item Health Screening Programmes
 Header Item Nursing Home Beds
 Header Item Care of the Elderly Provision
 Header Item Mental Health Services Provision
 Header Item National Children's Hospital Location
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 775 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 437-452

Drug Treatment Programmes Availability

 437. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the plans he has for drug and alcohol addiction services in counties Louth and Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40328/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Róisín Shortall): Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall The Government is committed to the objectives of the National Drugs Strategy and to continuing support for drug and alcohol addiction services across the country. Over €980,000 has been allocated from the Drugs Initiative of my Department this year to community drugs projects supported by the North East Regional Drugs Task Force. Details of the projects supported by the Task Force, including those based in Louth and Meath, are set out in the following table.

Project Name
2012 Allocation
North East Family Support Network
5,000
Task Force Operational Budget
168,090
Meath Community Drug & Alcohol Response
126,500
Turas Aftercare Programme
200,000
CDA Trust Ltd
185,000
ISPCC Teen Focus Louth
20,000
ISPCC Teen Focus Meath
20,000
Louth/Meath Community Drug & Alcohol Team
126,500
Turas Counselling Service Louth
15,358
Ana Liffey Drug Project
55,000
Tabor House
20,000
Cocaine Initiative
44,643
Total
986,091


  I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the drug and alcohol addiction services they provide in Louth and Meath.

Medical Card Delays

 438. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the current waiting time for an application for a medical card and a general practitioner card; the number of applicants currently waiting for their medical card and GP application to be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40342/12]

 439. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the current waiting time for medical card appeal; the number of applicants currently waiting for their medical card appeal to be assessed and a decision made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40343/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Róisín Shortall): Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall I propose to take Questions Nos. 438 and 439 together.

The Health Service Executive has stated that on 1st September 2012, 96% of all complete medical card applications and renewals had been processed within the 15 day target and 213 applications had yet to be processed. I have asked the Health Service Executive for a report on the waiting time for medical card appeals. I will revert to the Deputy on the matter as soon as possible.

Hospital Staff Issues

 440. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if she will report on the recent agreement with hospital consultants; if there will be any implications for long-standing plans he has to increase the number of consultants in the health system so as to address ongoing long waiting times for patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40344/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Following a request on 13 September by senior health service management on behalf of the Government, intensive discussions between health service employers and the two consultant representative bodies commenced immediately at the Labour Relations Commission. These dealt with a range of matters, including measures to ensure that the relevant parts of the Health Sectoral Agreement within the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 can be given effect. These discussions were also attended by officials from my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and concluded on 17 September 2012.

  The outcome of this engagement is that detailed proposals have been agreed between the parties. Amongst the key provisions of this agreement are that:

- Consultants will be available for rostering for any five days out of seven as opposed to weekdays as at present;

- There can be rostering of consultants where required on 16/7 (8 a.m. to midnight) or 24/7 basis in services where this is required;

- Clinical Directors will have a strengthened management role in respect of consultants;

- There will be cooperation with a range of measures to support improved Community and Mental Health services;

- Consultants commit to expeditious processing and signing of claims for submission to private health insurers;

- There will be more cost-effective arrangements for funding of continuing medical education.

  Separately, Government will apply a 30% reduction in salary for future consultant appointees. Management proposals to reduce the "rest day" arrangements that currently apply and the elimination of the fee to consultant psychiatrists for giving a second opinion under the Mental Health Act 2001 will be referred to the Labour Court, in line with the procedures provided for in the Public Service Agreement. The issue of "historic rest days" will be referred to the Labour Court in line with normal procedures.

  Government policy is to increase the number and availability of consultants in the public health service.   This policy is reflected in the 2008 Consultant Contract and the outcome of the recent discussions. The revised salary levels for new consultants will facilitate the appointment of more consultants, which will directly enhance the care of patients through increased provision of consultant-delivered services.

  Question No. 441 answered with Question No. 390.

Medical Card Appeals

 442. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason a cancer patient (details supplied) who is currently undergoing radiotherapy and other medical treatment at significant cost has been refused a medical card; if she will ensure that the appeal against this decision is dealt with as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40352/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Róisín Shortall): Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Mobility Allowance Applications

 443. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if will consider a mobility allowance request for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40356/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The Revenue Commissioners operate a Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Tax Concessions Scheme, whereby a family member of a disabled passenger can qualify for tax relief linked to the purchase of vehicles, provided he/she is living with and is responsible for the transport of the disabled person in question, has acquired the vehicle for that purpose and the disabled passenger is the holder of a Primary Medical Certificate. Applications for Primary Medical Certificates are processed by the Health Service Executive (HSE), through local health offices.

The Mobility Allowance is a means tested, monthly payment, payable by the Health Service Executive. I have arranged for this matter to be referred to the Health Service Executive for a direct reply to the Deputy.

  Question No. 444 answered with Question No. 435.

Health Screening Programmes

 445. Deputy Brian Walsh Information on Brian Walsh Zoom on Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide details of measures being taken to address delays in conducting health screening and development checks for children in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40361/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Home Beds

 446. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of public nursing home beds closed in 2012 up to the end of August; the number closed since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40362/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Care of the Elderly Provision

 447. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when he will bring forward legislation to set standards for the provision of home care for elderly people by private commercial companies in receipt of funding from the Health Service Executive; if he has plans to have the sector inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority; if she intends to allow a complaint/investigation procedure to be put in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40364/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch Government for National Recovery, 2011-2016 commits the Government to developing and implementing national standards for home support services, which will be subject to inspection by the Health and Information Quality Authority (HIQA). All relevant implications arising from this proposal will obviously have to be taken into account including, for example, a recent report by the Law Reform Commission entitled Legal Aspects of Professional Home Care, which in itself is a follow up to its 2009 consultation paper Legal Aspects of Carers.

  Primary legislation and resources will be required for the introduction of a statutory regulation system for home care services. The question of possible changes to legislation, including regulation, inspection and complaints procedures for Home Care services for older people is at present under consideration. The Department is examining this matter in the overall context of the licensing of Health Care providers. Legislation is currently being prepared and various options are being considered, including the complex legal issues involved, and the need to prioritise legislation across the Social Care area overall.

  It should be noted that statutory regulation or licensing is only one way of improving the safety and quality of services and that other measures have or are being taken to improve Home Support services delivered by, or on behalf of, the Health Service Executive (HSE). This approach is reflected in the HSE Service Plan 2012, and includes a new public Procurement Framework for Home Care services (with quality and screening requirements); new National Quality Guidelines for Home Support Services, and new National Home Help Guidelines. These various measures, taken together, have been designed to improve relevant aspects of HSE Home Care provision nationally, pending progression of the legislative proposals raised by the Deputy.

Mental Health Services Provision

 448. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of persons who have been discharged from psychiatric hospitals and the type of accommodation that they have been discharged into in each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40371/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The number of discharges from psychiatric units and hospitals during the period 2004-2010 is set out in the following table.

Year Number of Discharges
2004 21,938
2005 21,265
2006 20,098
2007 20,498
2008 20,603
2009 20,213
2010 19,614


  The figures for 2011 and 2012 are not yet available. Information on the type of accommodation to which patients are discharged is not collected.

National Children's Hospital Location

 449. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when the report of the review group on the national children's hospital, the Dolphin Report, will be published; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40375/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As you will be aware, I established an independent Review Group to consider the implications of the decision of An Bórd Pleanála, received on 23 February 2012, to reject the planning application for the proposed construction of a national paediatric hospital on the site of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital. The aim of the Review was to consider all the possible options for the earliest possible delivery of a new children's hospital. In June, the Group presented its report, to which I am giving careful consideration and which I will be bringing to Government shortly. I intend to publish the Group's report when this process is complete.

  Question No. 450 answered with Question No. 418.

Medical Card Eligibility

 451. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if she will provide in detail the changes to the medical card eligibility criteria during the period 2011-2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40382/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Róisín Shortall): Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall There have been no amendments made to the medical card eligibility criteria over the 2011-2012 period. However, a number of changes have been made to the way in which medical card applications are processed by the Health Service Executive (HSE). Any medical card holder undergoing a review, who genuinely engages with that review, will not have their entitlement withdrawn before the review is complete, regardless of the expiry date shown on their medical card. In cases where a decision is made not to grant a medical card, the applicant is informed of the decision and is notified of their right to appeal this decision. Contact details for the appeals office are provided to them. Where a person submits an appeal to a decision not to renew a medical card within 21 days of that decision, they retain their medical card or GP visit card until the appeal is decided. The Appeals officer notifies the appellant of the final decision in the case.

In relation to those persons under the age of 25 years who apply for medical cards, in future being on age related Supplementary Welfare Allowance will not, in itself, prohibit a person from being awarded a medical card or a GP visit card.

The HSE has implemented a set of guidelines in relation to the provision of emergency medical cards for patients who are terminally ill, or who are seriously ill and in urgent need of medical care that they cannot afford. Emergency medical cards are issued within twenty-four hours of receipt of the required patient details and the letter of confirmation of the condition from a doctor or a medical consultant. With the exception of terminally ill patients, the HSE issues all emergency cards on the basis that the patient is eligible for a medical card on the basis of means or undue hardship, and that the applicant will follow up with a full application within a number of weeks of receiving the emergency card. As a result, emergency medical cards are issued to a named individual, with a limited eligibility period of six months. The arrangement is slightly different for persons with a terminal illness. Terminally ill patients are given an emergency medical card for six months. Given the nature and urgency of the issue, the HSE has appropriate escalation routes to ensure that the person gets the card as quickly as possible.

The Health Service Executive has confirmed that 96% of fully completed applications and reviews are now processed within 15 days.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 452. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if she will have an early assessment arranged for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny who has been waiting for a knee operation for some time at Waterford Regional Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40389/12]

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


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