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. 275-288
 Header Item Hospital Beds Data
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Health Services
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Health Insurance Prices
 Header Item Nursing Staff
 Header Item Dental Services Provision
 Header Item National Drugs Strategy
 Header Item Speech and Language Therapy Provision
 Header Item Hospital Charges
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Psychological Services
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 947 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 97 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 275-288

Hospital Beds Data

 275. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to set out the number of paediatric outpatients beds to be provided in Tallaght Hospital's urgent care facility following the transfer of the accident and emergency department to the National Children's Hospital; the opening hours of the urgent care centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18452/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The satellite centres on the campuses of Tallaght and Connolly Hospitals will be an integral part of, and come under the governance of, the new children’s hospital. This will include staffing, quality assurance, education and training, and branding. In addition, staff of the main hospital will rotate through the centres.

Each centre will provide urgent care as well as secondary outpatient services including rapid access general paediatric clinics. The aim is to improve geographic access to urgent care for children in the Greater Dublin Area, Wicklow, Kildare and parts of Meath, and support primary and community care paediatrics, as well as reducing Emergency Department and outpatient attendance at the main site.

Each centre will provide consultant-led urgent care from staff of the new children’s hospital and appropriate diagnostics. Each centre is projected to deal with 25,000 urgent care attendances per annum. There will be 12 outpatient consulting rooms located in the satellite centres, with each centre having 6 short-stay observation beds (4-6 hours) and 10 assessment bays.

The provision of general paediatric rapid access clinics will meet the need of primary care for access to specialist opinion (secondary paediatric opinion) – currently many children are referred to tertiary specialists when they don’t need that level of expertise, resulting in longer waiting lists. The satellite centres will also provide general community and paediatric clinics including developmental paediatrics, multidisciplinary care for children with chronic stable conditions and other outpatient services. Each centre is expected to cater for a minimum of 15,000 outpatient attendances per annum.

The satellite centres will be open during the known busiest daytime and evening hours and closed during the night when departments are at their quietest. It is anticipated that the urgent care centres in Tallaght and Connolly will open from 08.00 to 24.00, diagnostic services from 08.00 to 20.00 and outpatient services from 08.00 to 18.00.

Hospital Appointments Status

 276. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will expedite an appointment for a person (details supplied). [18455/17]

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 the Deputy directly.

Health Services

 277. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18457/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I understand the challenges Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E) patients face in accessing appropriate services. I would be happy to meet with these patients and carers. I will ask my Department to facilitate setting up a meeting.

Hospital Services

 278. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline the status of the development of adequate diabetes consultant and CNS staff for paediatric and adult diabetic care in a hospital (details supplied). [18460/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris A Paediatric Insulin Pump Services was initiated in May 2015. This service is based in Sligo University Hospital, with outreach clinics in Letterkenny University Hospital.

The Saolta University Healthcare Group has confirmed that the Consultant Paediatrician with Speciality Interest in Diabetes, who was instrumental in commencing this service, is leaving this post in mid-April. The Saolta Group has recently advised my Department that a consultant paediatrician has been appointed to this post on a temporary basis.

The permanent post is to be filled through public competition via the Public Appointments Service; this process is on-going. In order to address continuity, the clinical service arrangements for the management of the insulin pump service are currently being examined in consultation with the relevant clinical teams.

There is currently one consultant Endocrinologist at Letterkenny University Hospital providing the adult Diabetes service, which serves approximately 700 patients with Type 1, and 6,500 with Type 2 diabetes. The current Consultant Endocrinologist is receiving support from a locum Consultant General Physician who has a diabetic interest.

Additional clinics are being run on monthly basis (1 - 2 extra clinics per month), in order to address waiting lists for the service.

In terms of the future of diabetes services in the North-West, the Saolta Group advises that a business case is currently being prepared in support of a second Consultant Endocrinologist, a Diabetic Nurse Specialist and a Diabetic Dietician, to further support the Letterkenny Diabetes service.

Health Insurance Prices

 279. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline his plans to adopt the proposal to phase out tax relief on health insurance; the measures he plans to adopt to offset the €600 increase that the average family would incur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18466/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I understand from media reports that phasing out tax relief on Health Insurance may be under consideration by the Committee on Future Healthcare. It is important to note that the work of the Committee is on-going, its Report is not finalised and the Committee should be afforded the space to complete its work. While I do not wish to influence the Committee's deliberations, neither can I verify what might or might not form part of its Report.

However, as Minister for Health I would caution that making private health insurance less affordable for people by withdrawing tax relief without improving ‎the public health system would only serve to increase reliance on services that are already under pressure and worsen standards for everyone. The cost to the Exchequer of providing Tax Relief on Health Insurance premia (€325 m in 2015) must be seen in the context of the overall premiums paid (circa €2462 m) and circa €2000 m claims paid during the same period. This includes income generated from the treatment of private patients in the public system. In addition, any unintended consequences such a policy change might have on the sustainability of our community rated PHI market, the sustainability of the health insurance industry and the future viability of private healthcare would required detailed and careful consideration. The phasing out of tax relief on health insurance premia is not something I as Minister for Health would support. However, decisions in relation to taxation policy are a matter for the Minister for Finance and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, who would give careful consideration to all of the likely knock on consequences arising from such proposals before making a recommendation to Government.

Nursing Staff

 280. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline his views on the incentives, tax breaks or pay increases necessary to slow the leak of Irish nurses to the USA, United Kingdom and Australia and to fill the critical shortage of nurses in hospital emergency rooms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18469/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The number of nursing and midwifery staff increased by 1,693 whole time equivalents between February 2014 and February 2017, notwithstanding intense global competition for our nurses and midwives.

During recent engagement between this Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the HSE, INMO and SIPTU nursing, management supplied a joint proposal document setting out a number of specific measures to attract nursing graduates and to retain nursing staff. This was done in the context of HSE management having developed a fully funded workforce plan for an additional 1,208 nursing/midwifery posts in 2017. The proposal includes permanent contracts for future graduates with scope for a career break and extensive education and personal development opportunities for nurses and midwives to upskill. The management side is also positively disposed to a proposal from the union side for the restoration of a number of allowances for new entrant nurses and this consideration will be concluded in the upcoming pay talks in the summer, following on from the publication of the report of the Public Service pay Commission. A relocation package of up to €1,500 continues to be available to nurses who return from overseas and this is to be extended with a second €1,500 allowance after a period of 12 months.

The above is in addition to the many other initiatives currently underway to improve nursing and midwifery staffing levels throughout the country.  The HSE has offered permanent posts to 2016 degree programme graduates. The HSE is also offering full time permanent contracts to those in temporary posts and is also focused on converting posts filled by agency staffing to permanent posts. Its National Recruitment Service is actively operating rolling nursing recruitment campaigns. A number of specific measures have also been taken in relation to pay that will support the recruitment and retention of Irish nursing graduates. Measures to date include the first stage of pay restoration under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, additional pay in return for taking on some duties from doctors and an increase in the rate of pay for the student nursing placement to 70% of the first point of the staff nurse pay scale. In October 2016 the Government approved restoration of incremental credit for all nurses in respect of the 36 week clinical placement undertaken by 4th year student nurses in the context of the 2017 Estimates.

The measures that were proposed by management and agreed with the INMO and SIPTU Nursing will significantly improve the staffing of nursing and midwifery posts in the public health service and offer serving and new nurses and midwives enhanced opportunities to advance their careers.

Dental Services Provision

 281. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when dental screening will be reintroduced in primary schools (details supplied) in County Laois. [18476/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

National Drugs Strategy

 282. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline his plans to publish the new national drugs strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18495/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne Government is committed to putting a new National Drugs Strategy in place from 2017 onwards, when the current policy expires. A Steering Committee with an independent chair has been established to advise me on the development of the new National Drugs Strategy.

I understand that the Steering Committee is continuing with its deliberations with a view to presenting its final report to me in April. I hope to bring my proposals on the new strategy to Government thereafter. Once approved by Government, it will then be published by the Department of Health.

Speech and Language Therapy Provision

 283. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to set down the estimated cost of recruiting 100 additional speech and language therapy posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18518/17]

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.

Hospital Charges

 284. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the policy of charging family members of critically-injured patients car parking fees in a Dublin hospital (details supplied) will be reviewed; if there has been a review of such fees being charged to outpatients with serious medical conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18558/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris There is a significant demand for car parking at all hospitals. Consequently, the efficient management of parking spaces and traffic flow on hospital campuses is of crucial importance. This is to ensure on-going availability of parking spaces; free flow of traffic on campus; unobstructed access for emergency vehicles at all times; proper use of spaces designated for drivers with disabled permits; and proper use of spaces designated as drop off points near the hospital entrance.

Arrangements for car parking is an operational matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE has advised that it does not provide guidelines on hospital parking and each hospital/hospital group implements their own guidelines. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has also advised that income from car parking charges in most statutory hospitals and some voluntary hospitals forms an integral part of the hospitals budgetary policy and is invested back into services provided at the hospitals. Income is also used to fund the upgrade and upkeep of the car parks, including security and management systems.

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

 285. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris to outline the number of persons waiting more than nine months to see a consultant ophthalmologist at a Dublin hospital (details supplied); the immediate steps being taken to reduce these waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18559/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Reducing waiting times for the longest waiting patients is one of this Government's key priorities. Consequently, Budget 2017 allocated €20 million to the NTPF, rising to €55 million in 2018.

In December 2016, I granted approval to the NTPF to dedicate €5m to a daycase waiting list initiative with the aim of ensuring that no patient will be waiting more than 18 months for a daycase procedure by 30 June 2017. In excess of 2000 daycases will be managed through this process and outsourcing of treatment has commenced. The focus of this initiative will be those lists with large numbers of long waiting patients including Ophthalmology.

In order to reduce the numbers of long-waiting patients, I asked the HSE to develop Waiting List Action Plans for 2017 in the areas of Inpatient Daycase, Scoliosis and Outpatient Services. My Department is currently engaging with the HSE and the NTPF to finalise these plans which I expect to approve shortly.

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

Psychological Services

 286. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal will have a psychological assessment in view of the fact the person has spent two years on a waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18569/17]

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 Status

 287. 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 set out the status of a hospital appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18592/17]

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 the Deputy directly.

Hospital Appointments Status

 288. Deputy Denise Mitchell Information on Denise Mitchell Zoom on Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if an appointment will be provided for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18595/17]

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 the Deputy directly.


Last Updated: 04/03/2020 10:38:16 First Page Previous Page Page of 97 Next Page Last Page