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. 408 - 428
 Header Item Emergency Departments Closures
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Delays
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Medical Card Delays
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item General Medical Services Scheme
 Header Item Mental Health Services Data
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Administration
 Header Item Health Insurance Levy
 Header Item HSE Funding
 Header Item Medical Card Applications
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Hospital Beds Data
 Header Item Beef Imports
 Header Item GLAS Payments
 Header Item GLAS Payments
 Header Item GLAS Payments
 Header Item Veterinary Inspection Service

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 408 - 428

Emergency Departments Closures

 408. Deputy Denise Mitchell Information on Denise Mitchell Zoom on Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline the reason for the closure of a day ward at Beaumont Hospital to accommodate accident and emergency patients; the provision that has been made for persons attending this day ward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15392/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The National ED Escalation Framework sets out procedures to be followed in hospitals during periods of high demand for emergency care, to ensure that safe care is provided to all patients. In order to respond to surges in ED demand, under the Framework, hospital managers may, in consultation with the relevant clinical leads, review and cancel non-urgent planned electives, where appropriate. This allows both beds and staff to be redeployed to alleviate pressure in the ED.

The HSE intends to undertake a review of the Escalation Framework in the coming months to ensure its effectiveness. It is essential that hospitals continue to improve how they manage, and balance, the demand for emergency care with the planning of elective procedures, to minimise the impact on patients.

In response to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.

Medical Card Eligibility

 409. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris whether it is under his remit to reinstate items (details supplied) on the medical card; if not, the person or body that can do so; and if it requires legislation to include extra items onto the medical card. [15393/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug schemes. Therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Appointments Delays

 410. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline the reason for the delay for a person (details supplied) who was urgently referred to a neurologist in County Mayo, yet is still waiting for an appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15394/17]

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 National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

  In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 411. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will expedite an appointment for cataract surgery for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15395/17]

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 National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

  In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.

Medical Card Applications

 412. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when a person (details supplied) will receive a medical card. [15398/17]

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 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 was issued to Oireachtas members.

Medical Card Delays

 413. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to explain the reason there is such a delay in processing medical card applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15399/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris 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 was issued to Oireachtas members.

Hospital Services

 414. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if his attention has been drawn to the fact that tomography PET scans are not available to persons in University Hospital Limerick; and if he will ensure that they are available. [15416/17]

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.

General Medical Services Scheme

 415. 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 to outline his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding haemochromatosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15438/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the terms of the current GMS contract, GPs are required to provide eligible patients with ''all proper and necessary treatment of a kind usually undertaken by a general practitioner and not requiring special skill or experience of a degree or kind which general practitioners cannot reasonably be expected to possess." Venesection for the treatment of Haemochromatosis is not considered a routine service under the GMS contract. Consultation fees charged by GPs outside the terms of the GMS or GP Visit Card contracts are a matter of private contract between the clinicians and their patients. While I have no role in relation to such fees, I would expect clinicians to have regard to the overall economic situation in setting their fees.

The IBTS has been running a Haemochromatosis clinic in the Stillorgan Blood Donation Clinic since 2007 and sees approximately 600 patients annually. In this clinic the IBTS only accepts Hereditary Haemochromatosis (HH) patients who are eligible to donate blood. In 2013 and 2014, the IBTS commenced provision of a programme for HH patients in their D’Olier St (Dublin) and St Finbarr’s Hospital (Cork) clinics, respectively. The Clinics provide phlebotomy at no cost to the patient with a prescription from their treating clinician. The phlebotomy would be performed, regardless of whether the patient wanted to have their unit converted to a donation. The IBTS is examining a number of other models of service delivery, and is currently developing a paper on these various models to see how this can be addressed.

The Deputy will be aware of the ongoing review of the GMS and other publicly funded contracts involving GPs, and that the next phase of discussions to progress this work is underway. The aim is to develop a new modern GP services contract which will incorporate a range of standard and enhanced services to be delivered. I expect that the issue of therapeutic venesection services for patients with Haemochromatosis will be considered in the context of the overall GP contract review process.

Mental Health Services Data

 416. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris further to Parliamentary Question No. 591 of 22 February 2017 if he will provide a breakdown of acute and sub-acute inpatient beds in mental health in each catchment area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [15445/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As this is a service issue, this question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Appointments Administration

 417. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will schedule an appointment for surgery for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15446/17]

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.

Health Insurance Levy

 418. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline the way in which the levy on health insurance is used; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15448/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Risk equalisation is a mechanism designed to support the objective of a community-rated health insurance market, whereby all customers pay the same net premium (adjusted to reflect any loadings applicable under lifetime community rating) for the same health insurance product, irrespective of age, gender or health status. Under the risk equalisation scheme, credits are paid to insurers for their older and sicker members. These credits are funded directly by stamp duty levies on all health insurance contracts written. The scheme redistributes funds between insurers to meet some of the additional costs of insuring older and sicker members. The scheme is self-funding and exchequer neutral, neither a cost nor a benefit to the State.

From 1 April 2017 the age-related credits paid to insurers in respect of older people will increase to help to maintain the existing level of support for community rating. Increasing the amount of age-based credits provided under the scheme requires changes in the stamp duty levy. The levy will therefore increase by approximately 10% on all products written from 1 April onwards. It is important to note that increasing the levy does not automatically increase costs across the market. All of the monies collected are paid back to insurers in the form of credits. The amount of any increase or decrease individual insurers pass on to consumers is a commercial decision for each of them. Insurance companies operate as commercial providers and as Minister for Health, I have no legal power to intervene in relation to any insurer’s pricing strategies.

HSE Funding

 419. 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 to outline his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding lack of resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15495/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As this is a service issue, this question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Card Applications

 420. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when a decision will be made on a medical card application by a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15500/17]

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 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 was issued to Oireachtas members.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 421. 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 to outline the status of a cataract operation for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15501/17]

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.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.

Hospital Beds Data

 422. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to set out in tabular form the trolley count at University Hospital Waterford for January and February in 2016 and 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15503/17]

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

Beef Imports

 423. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed to outline his views on an EU-wide ban on all Brazilian beef imports following recent allegations that some of the country’s biggest meat processors have been selling rotten beef and poultry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [15038/17]

 424. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if a ban will be placed on all Brazilian beef imports following recent allegations that some of the country’s biggest meat processors have been selling rotten beef and poultry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [15039/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I propose to take Questions Nos. 423 and 424 together.

On the 17 March the Brazilian police announced that after a two-year probe, they had discovered evidence that several beef and poultry plants allegedly bribed inspectors to overlook improper practices. This facilitated the export of meat which was unfit for human consumption. 21 Brazilian establishments are concerned. Most of them produce for the domestic market; 4 of them have approval for meat export to the EU.

My Department is closely monitoring this case through the Embassy in Brasilia which is in direct contact with the Brazilian authorities and through the European Commission. It is the Commission which is responsible for the approval of Third Countries for export of meat into the EU on behalf of Member States. The relevant Commissioner with responsibility for this area, Commissioner Andriukaitis, is currently in Brazil for discussions with the Brazilian authorities on this issue.

On 19 March the Brazilian authorities (MAPA) confirmed that they had been informed of the Federal Police Operation on 17 March. Based on information received, they suspended certification from the 4 establishments under investigation which were approved for export to the EU.

On 20 March the Commission requested information on all exports to the EU from the 4 establishments since 1 January 2017, and asked the Brazilian authorities to recall any consignments which were in transit. The Commission also suggested the suspension of certification from any other establishments approved for export to the EU, pending the outcome of a full investigation. On 21 March I wrote to Commissioner Andriukaitis, supporting the suggestion to suspend certification from all other establishments approved for export to the EU.

Food safety is a shared responsibility between national and EU authorities. Food business operators in the EU also carry out their own quality and safety checks in line with their responsibilities to ensure that their products are safe.

My Department carries out controls on imports at Border Inspection Posts ( BIPs). The EU imposes strict hygiene and safety controls on imports of food, in particular on animal products for which documentary, identity and physical checks are compulsory for meat products imports. These are implemented here in Ireland by veterinary staff from this Department at the BIPs. Checks on all Brazilian product are now being intensified in light of current developments, and will include microbiological testing.

I am satisfied that this matter is being treated and dealt with in the most serious and appropriate manner by the EU.

GLAS Payments

 425. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive a GLAS payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15250/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named was approved into GLAS 2 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2016.

  During the 2016 prepayment checking process an issue presented on the computerised crosscheck of Department databases that required further investigation. Department officials have examined this issue and the application is now being further processed for payment in respect of the 2016 scheme year.

GLAS Payments

 426. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive a GLAS payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15251/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015 and has received full entitlements in respect of the 2015 scheme year.

  During the 2016 prepayment checking process an issue presented on the computerised crosscheck of Department databases. Department officials have examined this issue and the application is now being further processed for payment in respect of the 2016 scheme year.

GLAS Payments

 427. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive a GLAS payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15252/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named was approved into GLAS 2 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2016.

  Payment of the 85% advance payment for 2016  has now issued to the person named. The balancing 15% payment for 2016 will be processed in due course according to the regulatory requirements.

Veterinary Inspection Service

 428. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if there is a full complement of veterinary inspectors and superiors on the floor of a specific factory during operation hours (details supplied). [14793/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed All slaughter plants whose meat is destined for human consumption must meet the requirements set out in detailed EU regulations relating to food safety and animal health and welfare.

Large scale slaughter plants operate under the supervision of my Department, while smaller scale abattoirs are supervised by the Local Authority Veterinary Service.

The slaughter process and the handling of animals going to slaughter take place under strictly supervised conditions. My Department has a permanent presence in each of the slaughter plants under its supervision and Department staff, with the assistance of temporary veterinary inspectors engaged on a contract basis, carry out regular checks as part of official regulatory controls. Allocation of resources is related to activity levels and I am satisfied that the necessary resources have been allocated to the plant in question.


Last Updated: 03/03/2020 15:23:29 First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page