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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1038-1055
 Header Item Health Insurance Data
 Header Item Hospital Appointment Delays
 Header Item Hospital Appointment Delays
 Header Item Medical Card Reviews
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Medical Card Data
 Header Item Hospital Staff Data
 Header Item Maternity Services
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Hospital Beds Data
 Header Item Health Services Staff
 Header Item Health Services Expenditure
 Header Item Hospital Consultants Recruitment
 Header Item Medical Card Delays
 Header Item Medical Card Delays
 Header Item Medical Card Delays
 Header Item Medical Card Delays

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. 1038-1055

Health Insurance Data

 1038. 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 market figures published last month by the Health Insurance Authority for the number of persons with inpatient health insurance plans at the end of December 2013 were accurate or if there was inadvertent double counting on the part of any insurer; if so, what the correct figure was for the number of persons with inpatient health insurance plans at the end of December 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13264/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Health Insurance Authority (HIA), the independent statutory regulator of the private health insurance market in Ireland, provides information to my Department on an ongoing basis, including in relation to market statistics. The HIA has advised my Department that the figures published accurately reflect (quarterly) levy returns submitted by insurers and the Authority has not received any amended returns from insurers for that period.

Hospital Appointment Delays

 1039. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath has been waiting three years for hip replacement surgery at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore; and when they can expect to be given a date for this operation.  [13266/14]

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.

Hospital Appointment Delays

 1040. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath has been waiting since 2008 for double hip replacement surgery at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore; and when they may expect to be given a date for this operation to occur.  [13267/14]

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.

Medical Card Reviews

 1041. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reasons a discretionary medical card was withdrawn from a person (details supplied) in County Louth; if he will consider directing client services to review the decision, being cognisant of this person's complicated medical issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13277/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 1042. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide clarification on two matters related to waiting lists for hospital care; if he will provide a breakdown of figures regarding waiting times for a consultant visit in 2011, 2012 and 2013 in all the regional hospitals; and if he will provide a similar itemisation for waiting times for treatment for the same years again in the same hospitals.  [13283/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In relation to the detailed information requested by the Deputy, as these are service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to him directly.

Medical Card Eligibility

 1043. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will consider issuing a discretionary medical card to a person (details supplied) in County Meath, taking into consideration the fact that prior to a review in September 2013 this person held a discretionary medical card and the person’s income remains largely unchanged; if he will clarify changes made to the assessment of discretionary medical cards on the grounds of undue hardship and outline the alternative supports available to assist those who are affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13284/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Data

 1044. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of persons who have had discretionary medical cards withdrawn to date since 2013; the number of persons engaged in the process of appealing a decision to withdraw a medical card; the length of time persons have to wait to receive a decision on their appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13285/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. However, I have asked the Health Service Executive to supply this information to me and I will forward it to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Hospital Staff Data

 1045. 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 midwife positions currently vacant in each maternity hospital. [13281/14]

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.

Maternity Services

 1046. 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 date on which he will receive the Health Service Executive review of maternity services. [13282/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In conjunction with the HSE, my Department is currently developing a new National Strategy for Maternity Services which will determine the optimal configuration of maternity services to ensure that women in Ireland have access to safe, high quality maternity care in a setting most appropriate to their needs. It is intended to publish the Strategy this year.

Medical Card Eligibility

 1047. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the current guidelines in place when assessing persons who exceed income guidelines for a medical card; the social and-or personal factors which may result in undue hardship that are taken into account when assessing such an applicant; if his attention has been drawn to the number of persons who have had medical cards withdrawn and who are facing unwarranted stress and ill-health as a result of not being able to access services and treatments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13286/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for health services in Ireland is based primarily on residency and means. The Act provides that persons who are unable, without undue hardship, to arrange GP services for themselves and family can qualify for a medical card. The HSE can only award medical cards in accordance with the Health Act and, therefore, it must assess applicants on the overall financial situation of the applicant and his or her spouse or partner. The HSE gives effect to this legislation through its Medical Card National Assessment Guidelines.

The HSE is obliged to operate within the legal parameters as set out in the Health Act, while also responding to the variety of circumstances and complexities faced by individuals who apply for a medical card. Under the legislation, there is no entitlement to a medical card based on having a particular disease or illness (nor has there been previously). However, if an applicant’s means are above the financial thresholds as set out in the national guidelines, the HSE routinely examines for indications of medical or social circumstances which might result in undue financial hardship in arranging medical services and, exercising discretion, may grant eligibility for a medical card on this basis. Where persons submit an application, as a new applicant or a renewal review, without additional medical documentation and are refused, they will receive a letter giving a calculation of the guideline thresholds and where these have been exceeded. Also, at this stage, they are informed of the option to furnish further medical documentation, to demonstrate medical expenditure related to an illness or disease, in support their application. The HSE has a panel of Community Medical Officers to assist in the processing of applications for medical cards on a discretionary basis, where the income guidelines are exceeded but where there are difficult personal circumstances, such as an illness or physical disability.

Where discretion is exercised with regard to an applicant with an illness or disease, it is the medical costs of that condition on a person's financial situation that is relevant to the assessment for a medical card. In accordance with the legislation, it is not possible to award a medical card by virtue of an illness or a disease or the severity thereof.

The National Assessment Guidelines for a medical card or GP visit card state that the ‘exercise of discretion by the HSE, in favour of the applicant, should be considered where meeting the costs of services covered by a medical card or a GP visit card compromises the applicant’s or his/her family’s ability to meet reasonable expenditure.

The HSE will give consideration to a range of medical or social factors that present on an application in deciding whether to approve a medical card on grounds of "undue hardship" or "unduly burdensome", having regard to the applicant's overall financial situation, in the arranging of GP services by the applicant for himself/herself and dependants.

The decision maker may make appropriate inquires or seek advice from other sources to assist with coming to a decision on the applicant's overall financial ‘undue hardship’/’undue burden’, including the applicant’s doctor, Social Worker, Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and the HSE’s Medical Officers.

I trust the above reply outlines the circumstances, in addition to income, taken into account in deciding whether to approve medical card eligibility on discretionary grounds. More detailed information is contained in the HSE's Medical Card National Assessment Guidelines, which are available from the HSE's Primary Care Reimbursement Service.

Hospital Beds Data

 1048. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his views on the current provision of only three neuro-rehabilitative beds; if he is satisfied with the current waiting period of over a year to access one of these beds, with a maximum usage period of only three months; the basis on which the provision of three beds was decided; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13126/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The National Rehabilitation Hospital is currently resourced for 3 beds for patients with highly complex care needs, for example patients who are minimally conscious or have a disorder of consciousness. The level of resources needed to provide for the complex care and treatment needs of this patient group is significantly higher than for patients who have a certain level of mobility or independence. The treatment of these patients can often be extended beyond the normal length of stay. The National Rehabilitation Hospital actively manages the waiting time for admission to the high intensity rehabilitation beds.

The Government has committed to part funding a 120 Bed Rehabilitation Unit with Integrated Therapy spaces to replace the existing National Rehabilitation Hospital, at an estimated total cost of €54 million. In the past couple of years an additional four new Consultants in Rehabilitation Medicine were appointed to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in addition to the existing seven Consultants at the hospital.

The HSE has made commitments in the 2014 Operational Plan to progressing the implementation of the Neuro-Rehabilitation Strategy. A Steering Group has been established to guide the implementation of the Strategy and to ensure adequate links with the Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine Programme.

Health Services Staff

 1049. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan 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 those working as home help and being paid by the Health Service Executive are being paid 28 cents less per hour if they elect to be paid by cheque instead of having their wages transferred directly into their bank accounts; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are about 40 such persons in this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13290/14]

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.

Health Services Expenditure

 1050. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide an annual breakdown, in tabular form, of the amount of money invested in health services in County Donegal yearly since 2008.  [13295/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly This question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Consultants Recruitment

 1051. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when a night consultant will be employed at Navan Hospital emergency department.  [13128/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly As this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Medical Card Delays

 1052. 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 if an application for a full medical card will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; the reason for delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13303/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Delays

 1053. 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 if an application for a full medical card will be expedited in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Carlow; the reason for delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13304/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Delays

 1054. 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 if an application for a full medical card will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in Carlow; the reason for delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13305/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Delays

 1055. 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 if an application for a full medical card will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; the reason for delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13306/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.


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