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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 415 - 424
 Header Item Cancer Screening Programme
 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Ambulance Service Provision
 Header Item Road Maintenance
 Header Item Driving Licence Renewals
 Header Item Official Engagements
 Header Item Dublin Airport Authority Expenditure
 Header Item Cycling Facilities

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 415 - 424

Cancer Screening Programme

 415. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will consider removing the age limits in place for the free smear test under the National Cervical Screening Programme in view of the incidence of this cancer in younger women; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21550/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly CervicalCheck, the National Cervical Screening Programme was introduced in 2008 and offers free smear tests to women aged 25 - 60. The decision to offer smear tests to women aged 25 and over was made following very careful consideration of the benefits to the population and the potential risks to individual women. This involved both Irish and international experts in cervical cancer and screening who examined international evidence and experience as part of the process. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that cervical screening at a population level is only offered to women aged over 25. National cervical screening programmes in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England have all changed the screening age from 20 to 25 in recent years. This measure was taken to prevent too many young women undergoing unnecessary treatment and side effects.

Changes in the cells of the cervix are extremely common in women under 25. In the vast majority of cases, these changes will settle and go back to normal by themselves. If the screening age was lowered to invite women under 25 for smear tests, young women could be subjected to unnecessary treatment that may have potential long-term negative effects on their health and fertility. Cancer of the cervix is extremely rare in women aged under 25. The average age in Ireland for the diagnosis of cervical cancer is 46. In 2010, 310 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and of these women, just three were aged under 25.

I would encourage all women aged under 25 to be vigilant about their health and go immediately to their family doctor (GP) if they have any concerns or symptoms such as abnormal bleeding. In such cases, it is not a smear test through a screening programme that is needed, but a biopsy. Her GP will make arrangements for her to have one, through a hospital service. Early detection of cervical cancer, particularly in younger women, is important in effectively treating it. The best way to prevent cervical cancer in women younger than 25 is to encourage 12-18 year olds to avail of the free HPV vaccination being offered to all secondary schoolgirls.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

 416. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the financial contribution required from a person on the State pension who is a full-time resident in Mountmellick Hospital, County Laois; the funding they should be left with from their pension on a weekly basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21564/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is a system of financial support for individuals in need of long-term nursing home care. Under the Scheme, nursing home residents contribute towards the cost of their nursing home care based on their means, and the HSE pays the balance. The person's contribution towards the cost of their care is calculated based on 80% of their income and 5% of their assets per annum. If the person is a member of a couple, the assessment is based on half of the couple's combined income and assets. It was announced in Budget 2013 that the asset contribution will be increased from 5% to 7.5% per annum. The legislation underpinning the Scheme must be amended before this change can take effect.

  The Scheme contains several important safeguards which ensure that both the person in the nursing home and their spouse/partner, if applicable, are adequately provided for:

 1. Nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care.

 2. The first €36,000 for a person's assets, or €72,000 for a couple, is not taken into account during the financial assessment.

 3. The principal residence is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of a person's time in care. This three year cap can also apply to family farms/businesses in certain circumstances.

 4. Where an individual's assets include land and property in the State, the contribution based on such assets may be deferred and collected from their estate. This is the optional Nursing Home Loan element of the scheme.

 5. Individuals keep a personal allowance of 20% of their income, or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (Non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

 6. If there is a spouse/partner remaining at home, s/he will retain 50% of the couples income, or the maximum rate of the State Pension (Non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

 7. Certain items of expenditure, called allowable deductions, can be taken into account during the financial assessment. These allowable deductions include health expenses.

 8. There is a financial review mechanism which takes account of the fluctuating value of assets and the fact that cash assets will naturally deplete over time as payments are made to the nursing home etc.

  If a person avails of the Nursing Home Loan, the money advanced by way of the loan must be repaid as follows:

 - If the repayment arises because of the death of the person in care, it must be repaid within 12 months of the date of death. Otherwise interest will apply from the date of death.

 - If the repayment arises because the property is sold/transferred during the person in care’s lifetime, it must be repaid within 6 months of the date of the sale/transfer, otherwise interest will apply back to that date.

Hospital Services

 417. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the circumstances and the hours family members are required to sit with patients who are terminally ill in Mountmellick Hospital, County Laois; if medical cover or care is provided after 5pm in the evening; the reason family members are required to sit with the patient in the hospital every evening after this time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21567/13]

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.

Hospital Services

 418. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will identify the locations of the public obstetric units across the country which are deemed appropriate locations for any procedures that may arise out of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21577/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly It is the intention of the legislation that all public obstetric units will be deemed appropriate locations for any medical procedures that may arise out of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013.

Ambulance Service Provision

 419. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will co-ordinate in arranging a meeting between the Health Service Executive management and National Ambulance Service management with the Save our Ambulance Kenmare Committee (details supplied) who are concerned regarding the future of the maintenance and enhancement of this vital service in their catchment area in view of the current review of ambulance services in south Kerry and if he will ensure that this meeting is set up at an early date.  [21579/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The National Ambulance Service (NAS), in line with a Labour Court decision, is in the process of introducing on-duty rostering to replace existing on-call arrangements. This means that on-duty ambulance crews are at their stations or in their vehicles during a shift, rather than having to be summoned to the station in the event of a call-out. Therefore, crews can respond to an emergency call immediately, instead of the average time of over 20 minutes for a vehicle to leave the station under on-call. This change, which was sought by both staff and the NAS, has obvious benefits for patients and response times and represents a clear improvement in service.

The NAS intends to introduce on-duty rostering and dynamic deployment of emergency resources, on a phased basis, across the entire Cork and Kerry region. So far, on-duty and dynamic deployment arrangements have been successfully introduced across County Cork, most recently in West Cork. The NAS informs me that planning for the next phase, in South Kerry, can now be progressed. This phase will include ambulance stations in Caherciveen, Killarney and Kenmare. As in each phase to date, any decisions on the best model of service for South Kerry will be preceded by detailed consideration of activity, geography, demographics, location of acute hospitals and other facilities, supporting services, wider NAS developments and learning from previous phases, as well as public, clinical and community leader engagement.

The HSE is currently considering the most appropriate model of service delivery for South Kerry, to replace the current on-call, static deployment model and the operation of resources in isolation. No decisions have so far been made and a number of matters need to be progressed before deliberations in relation to South Kerry can be finalised. These include public, staff and clinical (including GP) consultations, continuing national reconfiguration of the control and dispatch system and the ongoing roll-out of the Intermediate Care Service for inter-facility patient transport in the region. A final model will emerge once this process is completed.

In light of the above, all stakeholders should take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the consultation process, as the most effective and appropriate forum to engage with the HSE and the NAS in relation to proposals for changes in emergency service delivery in South Kerry.

Road Maintenance

 420. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his attention has been drawn to the fact that repair works to a fallen bridge on the border of south Tipperary and Waterford is being delayed until August-September by the Inland Fisheries; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this road is closed and will remain closed until August-September unless these works are carried out and that this is causing inconvenience to the road users in the area; if permission will be granted to allow works be carried out in the coming weeks; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21146/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities own resources supplemented by State road grants paid by my Department. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is a matter for the local authority. It is also a matter for the local authority to consult directly with Inland Fisheries Ireland in order to progress this project.

Driving Licence Renewals

 421. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the current processing times for driver licence renewals nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21157/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Following a Government Decision of May 2011, responsibility for the driver licence service is being centralised under the Road Safety Authority as and from 12 January this year. Noting this, I have referred the Deputy's question to the Road Safety Authority for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Official Engagements

 422. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an itinerary of his official engagements in the United States over the recent St. Patrick's Day holiday as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs Promote Ireland programme.  [21192/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Minister of State Alan Kelly, represented the Government at St Patrick's Day events in New York and New Jersey.  Details of his itinerary are set out as follows.   

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Travel to New York; Trade Meeting with Irish Aviation Company.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Meeting with Nuria I. Fernandez CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Meeting with Ashwani K. Chhabra Deputy Commissioner of Policy & Planning NYC, Taxi & Limousine Commission at 33 Beaver St; Meeting & Interview with Neil O’Dowd of the Irish Voice; Meeting & Interview with Adrian Flannery of Irish Radio. Net; Meeting with Mid West Regional Authority & Tipperary Association of New York; Attend Bank of Ireland Reception Mid-town Manhattan; Attend the Matheson’s Reception Jockey Club Manhattan; Attend & speak at Spirit of Ireland Awards (Young Leaders), The American Ireland Fund - The Bowery.

Friday 15 March 2013

Attend the Co-operation Ireland Breakfast – Lower Manhattan; Travel to Newark, New Jersey; Attend and Address the reception for the Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal in Gibbons Law LLC in Newark; Address the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Newark; Attend and Review the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Newark; Travel to New York; Attend the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick’s Dinner.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Meet with various Irish Groups Marching in the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade; Attend and March in New York City St Patricks Day Parade; Dinner with Mid–West Regional Authority and other representatives.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Return to Ireland

Dublin Airport Authority Expenditure

 423. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the amount of money spent by the Dublin Airport Authority in 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013 on planning enforcement issues including all associated legal and consultancy fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21201/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The matter raised by the Deputy in relation to the amount of money spent by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) on planning enforcement issues falls within the operational responsibilities of the DAA and I have referred the question to the company for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten working days.

Cycling Facilities

 424. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the economic impact of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21230/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The 48km Great Western Greenway was delivered at a cost of €5,568,000 million and was completed in 2011.  The sources of funding for this investment are set out as follows.

Funding source
Dept of Transport, Tourism & Sport 3,030,000
Fáilte Ireland 1,910,000
Dept of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs 160,000
Mayo Co Council 468,000
Total: 5,568,000


  I would direct the Deputy to the Great Western Greenway Economic Impact Case Study undertaken on behalf of Fáilte Ireland for details on the economic impact to the local economy of this Greenway.  The Study found that major benefits are being obtained from the Greenway, most obviously through maintaining and creating employment.  The Greenway has created considerable demand along the route for a variety of services including accommodation, bike hire, taxi services, tour operators, local shops, bars and restaurants.  In terms of putting a monetary value on visits to the route, estimates derived from the Study suggest that all direct expenditure arising from visitors attracted to the Greenway would contribute approximately €7.2m to the local economy in a full year.


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