Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 307-318
 Header Item Hospitals Expenditure
 Header Item Hospital Transfers
 Header Item Care of the Elderly Provision
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item National Lottery Funding Applications
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Nursing Home Services
 Header Item General Practitioner Services
 Header Item Medical Card Appeals
 Header Item Medicinal Products Availability

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 307-318

Hospitals Expenditure

 307. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the details of general maintenance and upkeep of hospitals; if there is a specific budget provided for this; if he will provide details of this spend in paediatric hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46852/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office and my officials will follow the matter up.

Hospital Transfers

 308. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will request the immediate transfer of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny to the Alzheimer's unit at the Sacred Heart Hospital, County Carlow as requested by their family; and if he will expedite the request. [46855/14]

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. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with them.

Care of the Elderly Provision

 309. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to improve alternative forms of housing and supports for older persons who are on waiting list for admission to nursing homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46878/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch While there will always be a need for long-term residential care, older people should be supported to stay in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, and this is what they clearly want themselves. It is my policy, and that of the HSE, that only those in genuine need of residential care should go down that route. As a first step, in 2014 €23m was redirected from long term residential care to strengthen community and home-based services and to develop more flexible and responsive approaches to care. This was in addition to the budget of €315m provided for home help and home care package services which are delivered to some 56,000 people at any one time.

  The budget for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) in 2014 was €939 million. Over the course of the year to date, demand for the NHSS has exceeded what could be funded and the national placement list has grown as a result. This has resulted in the waiting times on the NHSS placement list growing to about 15 weeks. This is not a satisfactory situation and I am trying to address it. In July the HSE allocated €5 million for an initiative to improve access to appropriate care for older people. To date, this has funded over 300 transitional care beds for patients in acute hospitals from the placement list for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme and over 200 home care packages to assist patients in the acute hospitals who require a home care package to be discharged.

  In Budget 2015 the Government has provided additional funding of €25 million for next year to address delayed discharges. This will fund a range of community and non-acute supports as follows;

- €10m to fund an additional 300   NHSS places, which increases the gross budget to almost €949m.

- €5m for provision of comprehensive home support services,

- €8m to provide an additional 115   short stay beds, including the phased opening of Mount Carmel Hospital, and

- €2m for Community Intervention Teams (Primary Care).

  In anticipation of the €10m allocation coming on stream in 2015 the HSE has released funding to support some 300 people in long term residential care. This is in addition to HSE's normal scheduled release of funding.   I expect this will have a positive impact by reducing the waiting times on the placement list from about 15 to 12 weeks.

  The Deputy will be aware that the NHSS is currently being reviewed. The review is considering the long term sustainability of the Scheme as well as looking at how well the current model of provision is currently balancing residential care with care in the community, and whether this needs to be adjusted to better reflect what older people want. Work on the Review is advanced. It is expected that it will be completed in the coming months and the Report will then be made publicly available.

  As well as considering how the Scheme has operated to date, the Review is expected to identify some of the issues that will need to be considered and tested more fully into the future, including possible new models of residential care.

Hospital Services

 310. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the amount the Health Service Executive spends per annum on taxis or other forms of transport for patients travelling from County Wexford to Waterford Regional Hospital for dialysis treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46879/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office and my officials will follow the matter up.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 311. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will ascertain from the Health Service Executive when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be scheduled for an ear, nose and throat, ENT, outpatient appointment in view of the fact that the person responded to the HSE’s query on whether they wanted to remain on the outpatient waiting list over a year ago and in view of the fact that this matter has been queried on three occasions recently with no response forthcoming from the HSE. [46882/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The scheduling of appointments for patients is a matter for the hospital to which the patient has been referred. Should a patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he or she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and hospital involved. In relation to the specific case raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

If the Deputy has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, please contact my Private Office who will follow up the matter with them.

Medical Card Eligibility

 312. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar in view of the announcements of 25 November 2014 regarding the default position for discretionary medical cards for persons with terminal illnesses, the reason a person (details supplied) in County Sligo with a discretionary card due to a terminal illness, expiry date 30 November 2014, has now been issued with a general practitioner visit card and was not offered to have the discretionary medical card reinstated, and must now reapply to the primary care reimbursement service for full review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46885/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch 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.

If the Deputy has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, please contact my Private Office who will follow up the matter with them.

National Lottery Funding Applications

 313. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an update on the status of a national lottery application (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46897/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The processing of decisions on applications for National Lottery grants is currently being finalised and I will be notifying the applicant of my decision shortly.

Health Services Provision

 314. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if and when the appropriate treatment will be offered in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46899/14]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Deputy's question relates to service delivery matters and accordingly I have asked the HSE to respond directly to him.

  If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with them.

Nursing Home Services

 315. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar further to Parliamentary Question No. 652 of 4 November 2014, when a final reply from the Health Service Executive will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46906/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The HSE has advised that they replied on the 3rd December in relation to Question 652.

General Practitioner Services

 316. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of medical cards as of 1 November 2014; the number of general practitioner cards on the same date; the number for each type of card issued on a discretionary basis on that date; and the number for each type of card assigned to over 70s on that date. [46909/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The figures as requested by the Deputy for 1 November 2014 are as follows:

Medical CardsOf which DiscretionaryGP Visit CardsOf which DiscretionaryOver 70s Medical CardsOf which DiscretionaryOver 70s GP Visit CardsOf which Discretionary
1,777,76272,759157,44432,686326,8775,73629,6571,063

Medical Card Appeals

 317. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when a decision will issue on a medical card appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46915/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch 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.

If the Deputy has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, please contact my Private Office who will follow up the matter with them.

Medicinal Products Availability

 318. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar further to Parliamentary Question No. 315 of 25 November 2014 if he will address the specific issues raised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; if he will specifically review the particulars of this case and intervene, rather than provide an overview of the situation nationally; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this person will die if the required treatment is not made available as a matter of urgency either here or abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46946/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch Decisions on which medicines are reimbursed by the taxpayer, are not political or ministerial decisions. These are made on objective, scientific and economic grounds by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and often on the advice of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics.

The HSE received an application for the inclusion of Eculizumab in the community drugs schemes. The application was considered in line with the procedures and timescales agreed in 2012 by my Department and the HSE with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association.

In accordance with these procedures, the NCPE conducted a pharmacoeconomic evaluation of Eculizumab and concluded that, at a total cost per patient per year of €437,247 and a cumulative gross budget impact over 5 years estimated at €33 million, the therapy did not represent value for money for the treatment of patients in the Irish healthcare setting. In addition, the manufacturer did not include an economic model as part of their submission and failed to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of this therapy. Consequently, the NCPE was unable to recommend reimbursement of the product under the community drug schemes. The report is available on the NCPE's website.

In relation to the Treatment Abroad Scheme I understand that the individual in question has appealed the decision by the HSE. As this is currently going through the appeals process it would not be appropriate to provide further comment at this time.

With regard to the 10 people that currently have access to this drug an interim agreement was put in place to fund these patients. This was to allow the pharmaceutical company, Alexion Pharma to have developed additional evidence to enable the HSE to make a long-term decision in relation to the funding of this incredibly costly agent.

Many countries have struggled to accept the pricing point put forward by Alexion. The HSE has been engaging with Alexion for some time to arrive at a pricing point that would assist it in its efforts to fund this medicine for as many patients as possible. The HSE met the company again in November and is currently considering the outcome of that engagement. It is worth noting that the current Irish list price of €4,557.50 per vial substantially exceeds the list price in the UK (£3,150 sterling).

I would like to assure the Deputy that I fully understand the concerns of patients regarding the availability of this drug. While I appreciate that some may take the view that the taxpayer should reimburse every licensed medicine for whatever price the drug company demands, I hope the Deputy will appreciate that the better interests of the health service require that we reimburse only the most effective medicines and only at a fair price.


Last Updated: 24/04/2020 15:38:42 First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page