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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 61 - 80
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Speech and Language Therapy Provision
 Header Item Hospital Procedures
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Respite Care Services Availability
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Ambulance Service
 Header Item Patient Transport Provision
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Respite Care Services Provision
 Header Item Health Services Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Home Care Packages Funding
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Medical Card Administration
 Header Item GLAS Data
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Basic Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Appeals

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 924 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 63 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 61 - 80

Vaccination Programme

 61. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will continue to support the Irish Cancer Society, NCCP, HSE and the national immunisation office working group focused on improving communication around the vaccine and robust and regular public support for the vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29938/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases before they come into contact with them. Immunisation not only protects individuals, but also others, by reducing the spread of disease. Immunisation against infectious disease has saved more lives than any other public health intervention, apart from providing clean water.

Each year in Ireland around 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. The Human Papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine protects against two high risk types of HPV (16 & 18) that cause 73% of all cervical cancers. Vaccinated women and girls will still be at risk from other high risk types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer and will therefore need to continue to have regular cervical smear tests.

I am pleased to note the ongoing work by the Irish Cancer Society, NCCP, Health Service Executive and National Immunisation Office to encourage young women to take effective measures to prevent cervical cancer by their support of the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is safe and protects girls and women from developing certain cancers associated with the HPV. The combination of a HPV vaccination programme, along with the effective screening programme, has the potential to reduce the incidence of cervical cancers by up to 90 per cent.

My priority as Minister for Health is to encourage individuals and their families to be fully vaccinated and reduce the risk of cervical cancer. In relation to HPV I would encourage all young women to receive this important vaccine.

Speech and Language Therapy Provision

 62. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the position regarding the adult waiting list for speech and language therapies for persons with intellectual disabilities in County Louth and County Meath respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29939/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Procedures

 63. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the position regarding patients who received hips manufactured by a company (details supplied); the number who have already had them replaced; and the number who remain on the list. [29947/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In relation to the particular query raised, 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 Appointments Status

 64. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of a hospital appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29954/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

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 should take the matter up with the consultant and the hospital involved. In relation to the specific case raised, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.

Respite Care Services Availability

 65. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if public respite care spaces will be funded and made available as a matter of priority in south Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29955/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

The Programme for Partnership Government states that the Government wishes to provide more accessible respite care to facilitate full support for people with a disability.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Home Help Service Provision

 66. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the HSE will provide a person (details supplied) with more home help hours as they are in serious need of assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29966/16]

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

Ambulance Service

 67. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if ambulance protocols incorporate the transport of patients to the hospital where they might be currently receiving ongoing care and treatment which might not be the nearest hospital to the patient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29969/16]

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

Patient Transport Provision

 68. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the awarding of a contract for the provision of taxi services in Cork city and county by the HSE will next be put out to tender or be the subject of a mini competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29970/16]

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

Pension Provisions

 69. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding public health pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29973/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter.

Respite Care Services Provision

 70. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason for the delay in providing respite care for persons (details supplied). [29974/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

The Programme for Partnership Government states that the Government wishes to provide more accessible respite care to facilitate full support for people with a disability.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services Staff Recruitment

 71. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when additional staff will be recruited to enable the full capacity of a centre (details supplied) to be utilised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29977/16]

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

Home Care Packages Funding

 72. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will provide sufficient funds to ensure that adequate home care package hours can be provided to persons in need of this package; if his attention has been drawn to the severe cutbacks made in the home care package hours in the west of Ireland; if his attention has been further drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); when the person will be allocated more home help hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29983/16]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

 73. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the way, under the National Treatment Purchase Fund, a person (details supplied) can access an urgently needed knee replacement operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29985/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The NTPF previously arranged for the provision of hospital treatment to classes of persons determined by the Minister. Since 2011 this function has been suspended. Currently, in accordance with Reg 4(1) of the NTPF Board (Establishment) Order 2004, the NTPF carries out activities in respect of data and analytics, audit and quality assurance of waiting lists and pricing under the Nursing Home Support Scheme.

  The NTPF supports the management of in-patient, day-case and outpatient waiting lists, by working with the HSE to assist hospitals in developing local demand and capacity planning and providing technical guidance materials to ensure the highest standard of data quality and practice.

  The expertise amassed by the NTPF in respect of waiting lists has proven invaluable in assisting the HSE to administer previous waiting list initiatives and in carrying out smaller-scale targeted initiatives in areas such as endoscopy.

  The Programme for Partnership Government (PfPG) emphasises the need for sustained commitment to improving waiting times for patients, with a particular focus on those patients waiting longest. It commits to €15 million funding to the NTPF for an initiative targeted at those waiting longest as part of a continued investment of €50 million per year to reduce waiting lists. My Department is working closely with the HSE and the NTPF to develop specific initiatives focused on reducing waiting lists in 2017 in accordance with the PfPG's commitments.

  Already this year, the NTPF has launched the Endoscopy Initiative 2016 which will assist in reducing waiting lists and waiting times for endoscopy procedures for those patients who are currently waiting over 12 months.

   In relation to the particular query raised, 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.

Vaccination Programme

 74. Deputy Marc MacSharry Information on Marc MacSharry Zoom on Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he, the Chief Medical Officer and the HSE are aware that a number of children and young adults are presenting with symptoms including sleeplessness, overtiredness, hallucinations, sleep paralysis and slurred speech which they believe is directly connected to receiving the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine; if so, the action the HSE is undertaking to provide supports to care for the affected persons; if not, if he will request the Chief Medical Officer and the HSE to look into this matter with a view to taking appropriate action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29987/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As part of Ireland’s response to the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 the National Public Health Emergency Team, following advice from the Pandemic Influenza Expert Group recommended that vaccination against pandemic influenza would be provided to all citizens.

Following reports of narcolepsy among children and adolescents who were vaccinated with Pandemrix in Ireland, a National Narcolepsy Study Steering Committee was established to conduct a retrospective population based study in relation to the Irish data. This Committee comprised expertise in the areas of epidemiology, neurology, paediatrics and paediatric neurology.

The study found that there was a 13 fold higher risk of narcolepsy in children/adolescents vaccinated with the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccine compared with unvaccinated children/adolescents.

The development of narcolepsy following pandemic vaccination is not a uniquely Irish issue. The results from the Irish data concur with those observed in Finland and Sweden.

As of 7 September 2016, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has received 81 reports with clinical information confirming a diagnosis of narcolepsy in individuals who were vaccinated with Pandemrix (80) and Celvapan (1). The majority of these reports relate to children/adolescents.

My Department, the HSE and the Department of Education and Skills continue to work together to provide a wide range of services and supports for those affected by narcolepsy following the administration of pandemic influenza vaccine.

The HSE’s Advocacy Unit acts as liaison with service and support providers and other Government Departments to facilitate access to required services. It is in regular contact with individuals affected and regularly meets with representatives of the SOUND (sufferers of unique narcolepsy disorder). Regional co-ordinators have been appointed to assist individuals by providing advice, information and access to local services.

The ex-gratia health supports include clinical care pathways to ensure access to rapid diagnosis and treatment, multi-disciplinary assessments led by clinical experts, counselling services for both the individuals and their families, discretionary medical cards for those who have been diagnosed have been provided to allow unlimited access to GP care and any prescribed medication, ex-gratia reimbursement of vouched expenses incurred in the process of diagnosis and treatment, including travel expenses for attending medical appointments; physiotherapy, occupational therapy assessments, dental assessments and dietary services all on a needs basis.

As of 10 October 2016, legal proceedings against the Minister, the Health Services Executive and GlaxoSmithKline Biological SA have been initiated by 51 individuals. The plaintiffs allege personal injury in which they claim the development of narcolepsy (cataplexy) resulted from the administration of the H1N1 pandemic vaccine.

Medical Card Administration

 75. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the cost associated with returning the income limits for the over 70s medical card to €700 per week for single persons and €1,400 per week for couples; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29990/16]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Applications for persons aged 70 years and older can be assessed both on the basis of the standard national assessment guidelines and on the basis of the guidelines for persons aged 70 years or over. Under the standard means tested medical card scheme, allowance may be made for rent/mortgage, travel to work and child care costs. Generally, for the over 70's, mortgages have been cleared, children have been catered for and they would not have travel to work related costs. However, persons aged 70 or older who are assessed as ineligible under the gross income thresholds may also have their eligibility assessed under the means tested medical card scheme where they face particularly high expenses, e.g., nursing home or medication costs. As I have outlined, this assessment is based on net income and assessable outgoing expenses and the qualifying income thresholds under this scheme are lower than over 70's gross income thresholds. Furthermore, persons aged over 70 years may still be eligible for a medical card where discretion is exercised where they face undue hardship in arranging medical services as a result of medical or social circumstances.

The gross income limit for an over 70's medical card was set in legislation at €500 per week for a single person and €900 per week for a couple from 1st January 2014. Prior to that date, the limits were €600 per week for a single person and €1,200 per week for a couple. The current gross income limit for an over 70's medical card is equivalent to an annual income of €26,000 for a single person and €48,000 for a couple. There is a statutory obligation on the Minister for Health to review annually the gross income limits for medical cards and GP visit cards for persons aged 70 and over in light of changes in the Consumer Price Index. The last review was conducted in September of this year. No changes were made to the income limits on foot of the review. All persons over 70, regardless of income, qualify for access to free GP care.

The data required to calculate a definitive estimate is not held by the Primary Care Reimbursement section of the HSE, therefore it is not possible to provide an answer to the Deputy. However, it should be noted that there are no proposals at present to amend the income guidelines for the granting of eligibility for medical cards for persons aged 70 and over.

GLAS Data

 76. Deputy Michael D'Arcy Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of farmers in County Wexford who have been paid for GLAS 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29904/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Some three hundred and twenty-eight farmers (328) in Co. Wexford have received a GLAS 2015 part-year payment; these payments have a value of €177,641.

Brexit Issues

 77. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he has met the European Commission chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, to discuss the implications of Brexit for farmers, particularly in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29905/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I welcome Michel Barnier’s appointment as the European Commission’s chief negotiator for Brexit, and I look forward to hearing his plans for the conduct of exit negotiations with the UK under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

My priority for the exit negotiations is to achieve the best possible outcome for farmers and for the Irish agri-food sector as a whole, consistent with the Government’s overall aim of ensuring a strong EU-UK relationship and a well-managed withdrawal. This is particularly important for farmers in border counties such as Cavan and Monaghan, who are particularly exposed to the range of trade and other issues associated with the North-South dimension of the Brexit issue.

In that regard, engagement with EU partners and the EU institutions remains a high priority. All members of the Government will remain actively engaged with their European counterparts and, as the negotiations get underway, this will include consultation with the Commission’s chief negotiator, as appropriate.

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

 78. Deputy Michael D'Arcy Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a 2015 BPS payment will issue to a person (details supplied) who has had entitlements transferred to them and land leased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29912/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named submitted a 2015 Private Contract Clause application to my Department seeking the transfer of land and entitlements by lease as transferee. The land parcels that were the subject of this transfer application had been declared by a third party on his 2013 Single Payment Scheme Application. As a result the transferor held no allocation right on these parcels and the Private Contract Clause application was deemed to be unsuccessful. The person named was notified in writing of this decision and offered the opportunity to submit a review. The person named subsequently contacted my Department and was advised to submit specific documentation which would assist in resolving the case. My Department has since contacted the person named on more than one occasion requesting the outstanding documentation. To date this documentation has not been submitted. Once the documentation is submitted the application can be further processed with a view to payment issuing as soon as possible thereafter.

Forestry Sector

 79. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if all sections of the 2014 Forestry Act, specifically with regard to felling, have been put into regulations; the current legislative position regarding felling applicable by law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29933/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Forestry Act 2014 provides that the Minister may make regulations governing various aspects of forestry activities and operations, including felling, and these regulations are currently being finalised with a view to commencing the Act as soon as possible.

  At present tree felling is regulated by the 1946 Forestry Act and will continue to be so until such time as the Forestry Act 2014 has commenced.

Single Payment Scheme Appeals

 80. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if there is any further recourse open to a person (details supplied) relating to a certain appeal concerning 2014 SPS area over-declaration. [29971/16]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Agriculture Appeals Office issued a decision letter to the person named on 6 October 2015. A decision of an Appeals Officer is final and conclusive, except in the following circumstances:

  - An Appeals Officer may review a decision where there is new evidence, new facts or a relevant change in circumstances that were not made known during the appeals process;

  - The Director of Agriculture Appeals may revise a decision where there has been a mistake made in relation to the law or the facts regarding the decision;

  - An appellant may request the Office of the Ombudsman to review the case;

  - An appellant may appeal a decision to the High Court on any question of law.

  It is open to the person named to consider which, if any, of the foregoing recourse options may be appropriate to his circumstances.


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