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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 986-1001
 Header Item Universal Health Insurance Provision
 Header Item Hospital Appointment Delays
 Header Item Drugs Payment Scheme Coverage
 Header Item General Practitioner Services
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Primary Care Services Provision
 Header Item Drugs Payment Scheme Administration
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Health Insurance Claims
 Header Item Health Insurance Claims
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Health Services Reports
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Accident and Emergency Services Provision

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 986-1001

Universal Health Insurance Provision

 986. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will ensure persons on the long term-illness scheme, persons with life threatening illnesses, including diabetes, and persons using nebulisers, pumps and so on will continue to be covered under the universal health insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12889/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The White Paper on Universal Health Insurance, currently at an advanced stage of drafting, provides detailed information on the UHI model for Ireland, the process for determining the future basket of health services, including the services that will covered under UHI, and the funding of UHI. Following a recent initial discussion at Cabinet on the White Paper, the issue will return to Cabinet in the near future with a view to publication very quickly thereafter. This will be followed by consultation on the general approach set out in the White Paper and a separate consultation on the future health basket.

  As a matter of general policy, it is the government's intention that existing entitlements will continue to be delivered to individuals once UHI is introduced. The composition of the future health basket will be considered by an expert Commission, and as part of that task the Commission will be asked to consider how such entitlements can be delivered in a manner that is as fair and cost effective as possible.

It is my intention to have all the necessary groundwork for UHI in place in early 2016 and to have the new system implemented by 2019.   

Hospital Appointment Delays

 987. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason a person (details supplied) has to wait a year for an ultrasound in Tallaght Hospital.  [12890/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In relation to the particular patient query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to him directly.

Drugs Payment Scheme Coverage

 988. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when the drug Fampyra will be made available free of charge to patients with multiple sclerosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12852/14]

 1110. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason Fampyra in not covered by the medical card or long-term illness scheme; if his attention has been drawn to the benefits it has given sufferers of multiple sclerosis; if he will immediately make the drug available to persons who need it under the State schemes; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the monthly costs for a patient on the long-term illness scheme who needs this drug is approximately €343, and if he will ask the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics to conduct another pharmacoeconomic evaluation of Fampridine; and if he will arrange for the Health Service Executive to cover the costs of the drug in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 as it has delivered a marked improvement in mobility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13624/14]

 1127. 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 make the drug Fampyra available both on the long-term illness scheme and the medical card scheme, as it has proven to be very effective in the management of multiple sclerosis symptoms allowing sufferers to live a more active life without constant pain; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13733/14]

 1129. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will consider putting the drug Fampyra on the drugs payment system listing or the long-term illness scheme.  [13739/14]

 1133. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of patients had been taking a drug Fampyra for treatment of MS through Bon Secours, Tralee, as part of a trial; that this trial has ended and it will cost patients €250 to continue treatment on this; that the drug payment system or long-term illness scheme will not contribute anything to the cost; his plans to rectify this matter so that treatment can be continued  [13750/14]

 1135. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if the drug Fampyra for multiple sclerosis will be available for patients through the public health service at no cost at the point of use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13764/14]

 1151. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the trial drug Fampyra is no longer available free of charge to patients diagnosed with MS (details supplied); if the drugs payment system or the long-term illness scheme could contribute to the cost of the drug; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13840/14]

 1217. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if Fampyra will be included on the drug payment scheme or other schemes such as GMS, DPS or LTI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14215/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I propose to take Questions Nos. 988, 1110, 1127, 1129, 1133, 1135, 1151 and 1217 together.

  The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicinal products under the community drug schemes in accordance with the provisions of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.

  However, neither the Minister for Health or the HSE have responsibility for health services provided in a private health setting. Such arrangements are a private contractual matter between the patient and the care provider(s).

  The HSE received an application for the inclusion of Fampridine (Fampyra®) in the GMS and community drugs schemes. The application was considered in line with the procedures and timescales agreed by the Department of Health and the HSE with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) for the assessment of new medicines.

  In accordance with these procedures, the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE) conducted a pharmacoeconomic evaluation of Fampridine and concluded that, as the manufacturer was unable to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of Fampridine in the Irish healthcare setting, it was unable to recommend the reimbursement of the product. The report is available on the NCPE's website (www.ncpe.ie). The NCPE report is an important input to assist the HSE in its decision making process and informs further discussions between the HSE and the manufacturer of the drug.

  The HSE assessment process is intended to arrive at a decision on the funding of new medicines that is clinically appropriate, fair, consistent and sustainable. In these circumstances, the HSE has not approved the reimbursement of Fampridine under the GMS or other community drug schemes.

General Practitioner Services

 989. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide an update on plans to introduce free general practitioner care for children under six years of age.  [12858/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Government is committed to introducing, on a phased basis, a universal GP service without fees within its term of office, as set out in the Programme for Government and the Future Health strategy framework. As announced in the Budget, it has been decided to commence the roll-out of a universal GP service by providing all children aged 5 and under with access to a GP service without fees. This will mean that almost half of the population will have access to GP services without fees. The Government is providing new, additional funding of €37 million to meet the cost of this measure which will provide a GP service to approximately 240,000 children that must currently pay to see a GP.

The implementation of this new service requires primary legislation and work on preparing this is ongoing. Preparations are also proceeding in relation to the necessary administrative arrangements. Details of application procedures and the start date for the new service will be announced in due course.

Health Services Staff Data

 990. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding the current staffing levels for occupational therapists in the Old County Road Health Clinic, Crumlin, Dublin 12 (details supplied).  [12908/14]

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

Primary Care Services Provision

 991. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if a grant for a wig is available in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12916/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The HSE is responsible for the administration of the primary care schemes, therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Drugs Payment Scheme Administration

 992. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if there is any assistance available to persons with coeliac disease to purchase gluten free products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12917/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicinal products under the community drug schemes in accordance with the provisions of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.

In the current financial environment the Health Service Executive (HSE) faces a continuing challenge to deliver services in a way that will minimise any adverse impact on patients and continue to protect, as far as possible, the most vulnerable citizens. Unfortunately, as a result it has become necessary for the HSE to suspend certain products from its list of items reimbursable under the GMS and other community drug schemes. This includes gluten-free products.

Gluten-free products have become more widely available in supermarkets in recent years and tend to be significantly cheaper than products sold through community pharmacies.

Expenditure on gluten-free foods can be taken into account for tax purposes.

Health Services Provision

 993. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 187 of 6 February 2014, when a response will issue from the Health Service Executive [12942/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I have made enquiries of the Health Service Executive in relation to this matter. I understand that a response to this particular parliamentary question was issued by the Executive to the Deputy on 12th March 2014.   

Health Insurance Claims

 994. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if the Health Service Executive is implementing the recommendation in the recent report by a person (details supplied) that patients sign claim forms on discharge from hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12943/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The recent report by Pat McLoughlin on measures to reduce private health insurance costs contained a number of recommendations relating to admission and discharge procedures and processes. The HSE and all health insurers met last week to put a process in place to progress implementation of this and other recommendations and will continue to work together to deal with a range of admission and discharge issues.

Health Insurance Claims

 995. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if the Health Service Executive refused to implement a common waiver form agreed by all health insurers for patients in public hospitals; if so the reason for the HSE’s objections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12944/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The HSE and all health insurers met last week to put a process in place to agree a form to validate treatment as a private patient in a public hospital. This meeting was facilitated by Pat McLoughlin as part of his ongoing review of private health insurance costs, under the auspices of the Consultative Forum on Health Insurance. The HSE and insurers will continue to work together to deal with a range of claims processing issues.

Health Services Provision

 996. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will investigate the reason children with high risk neuroblastoma do not receive funding towards the costs of treatment abroad (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12962/14]

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 to the Deputy.

Health Services Reports

 997. 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 an updated occupational therapist report will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11.  [12973/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services Provision

 998. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he and the Health Service Executive will provide an update on plans involving a project (details supplied); the scope of the project in terms of the number of beds involved; the person who will operate the facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12979/14]

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.

Health Services Staff Data

 999. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of midwives he believes should be employed in Cork University Maternity Hospital in order to comply with international best practice; if he will recruit extra midwives to this hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12990/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I have forwarded the Deputy's question in relation to the recruitment of additional midwives in Cork University Hospital to the HSE for direct reply. However, I would take the opportunity to confirm that the HSE has the authority to appoint additional frontline staff to ensure the provision of safe care. While the numbers employed across the public service must be reduced in order to meet fiscal and budgetary targets, it is recognised that certain services, such as maternity, are demand led and require specialist staffing. Arrangements are in place in the HSE to allow the recruitment of such staff where it has been established that there is an urgent service requirement.

The Deputy may also wish to note that a Midwifery Workforce Planning Project has been established within the HSE   to examine the current levels of midwifery staffing and healthcare assistants and recommend appropriate staffing levels and or initiatives to improve skill mix.

The Project Group recently held its first meeting; it is expected that the review, when finalised, will assist in determining the midwifery skill mix/workforce requirements in the future for Cork University Maternity Hospital.   

Accident and Emergency Services Provision

 1000. 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 the amount owed to the Health Service Executive in upaid accident and emergency bills for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13005/14]

 1001. 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 provide a list in tabular form the amounts outstanding in unpaid accident and emergency bills to each of the country's hospitals for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13006/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 1000 and 1001 together.

  These questions have been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.


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