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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 653-677
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Garda Vetting
 Header Item State Claims Agency Data
 Header Item Mental Health Services
 Header Item Direct Provision System
 Header Item Cannabis for Medicinal Use
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Respite Care Services
 Header Item HSE Agency Staff
 Header Item National Public Health Emergency Team
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item National Children's Hospital
 Header Item Disability Support Services
 Header Item Cross-Border Health Initiatives
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Disabilities Assessments
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Health Services Staff
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 993 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 170 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 653-677

Departmental Contracts

 653. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the amount spent on external consultants by her Department in 2019; the average hourly rate; if caps or limits on such spending are in place; the way in which conflicts of interest are managed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7275/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department spent a total of €902,646 on external consultancy in 2019.

The Department considers hiring external consultants in cases where there is not the necessary expertise to deliver the project in-house, in cases where an external assessment is deemed essential, or in cases where a project must be completed within a short time scale, and although the expertise or experience may be available in-house, performing the task would involve a prohibitive opportunity cost.

An overall budget ceiling for consultancy expenditure is set at the beginning of the year. Projects to be prioritised for funding from this budget are initially reviewed by a Consultancy and Research Group, chaired by an Assistant Secretary, for recommendation to the Department's Management Board, with final approval of consultancy and research projects by the Management Board

In each particular case, criteria specific to the project are used in selecting an outside agency or consultancy, including cost and value for money. Contracts are awarded based on the most economically advantageous tender (specifying, in addition to price, various other criteria including running costs, servicing costs, level of after sales service, technical assistance, technical merit, environmental characteristics). Contracts are not generally awarded on the basis of average hourly rates.

My Department complies with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's guidelines for engagements of consultants by the civil service, having regard to public procurement guidelines.

Garda Vetting

 654. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the provisions being considered to speed up the process of vetting special needs assistants for redeployment (details supplied). [5587/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath As the Deputy's question refers to a service issue, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

State Claims Agency Data

 655. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of claims submitted to the State Claims Agency relating to Covid-19; the number of expected claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5642/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The State Claims Agency (SCA) has a statutory remit to manage personal injury claims, including claims in respect of clinical negligence, on behalf of Delegated State Authorities (DSA’s) including the Health Service Executive. 

I have been informed by the SCA that it has not received any claims relating to COVID-19 to date and also that it is not possible to predict with any accuracy the number of claims that may be received in time.

Mental Health Services

 656. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if emergency funding will be allocated to ensure the continuation of services at an organisation (details supplied) and other bodies in the area of mental health. [5726/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly In addition to the continuation of the existing HSE funding of €2.03m per year, the HSE and Pieta House have now formally agreed to additional funding of €114, 608 per month, equivalent to €343,824 per quarter once the current Government staffing cost schemes, of which Pieta House is availing, have ceased.

The HSE has committed to provide cash flow support on a monthly basis, with the position to be reviewed after each quarter. The funding is being provided to fund an additional 300 hours of high-risk clients and the quarterly review will ensure that any client who commences a programme of support can have reasonable assurance of its completion. The cash flow support is also contingent on continuation of the process of engagement with the HSE to work towards creating a more sustainable funding model for the organisation.

This arrangement will provide necessary support to Pieta as it, and the HSE, continue to work together.

Direct Provision System

 657. Deputy Paul McAuliffe Information on Paul  McAuliffe Zoom on Paul  McAuliffe asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if statistics on the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases among direct provision residents include reception centres such as Baleskin; if not, if such centres can be included in statistics going forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5743/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Both my Department and the HSE are committed to protecting the identity and medical confidentiality of direct provision residents, as required by law, and therefore do not give specific information about individuals or locations.  Information on cases or outbreaks of any illness (COVID-19 or otherwise) is provided only if there is a public health reason to do so.

Cannabis for Medicinal Use

 658. Deputy Frankie Feighan Information on Frankie Feighan Zoom on Frankie Feighan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the cultivation of a crop (details supplied) falls under the remit of his Department; if so, the plans developed to date relating to the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6118/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris It is an offence to cultivate, import, export, produce, supply and possess cannabis except in accordance with a Ministerial licence.

The Misuse of Drugs (Designation) Order 2017, limits the purposes for which such licences for cannabis can be issued, for example for forensic analysis or research - including research involving the cultivation of cannabis for use in approved clinical trials.

Policy to date has not permitted the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes and no licences have been issued for this activity. However it is envisaged that recent developments on access to cannabis for medical use may prompt a review of this position in the future.

The Department's priority at this time is the sourcing of suitable quality approved, affordable, finished cannabis products for medical purposes, i.e. those products that have been made in a GMP certified facility or equivalent internationally recognised quality standards. Cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes will not be addressed until this critical goal is achieved in the shorter term as all available resources are focussed on this work.

Further information regarding the licencing process of cannabis cultivation for research purposes may be obtained from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

Covid-19 Pandemic

 659. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of construction workers who tested positive for the virus or who have died from Covid-19 to date [6282/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is an operational matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Respite Care Services

 660. Deputy Joe Flaherty Information on Joe  Flaherty Zoom on Joe  Flaherty asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when it will be possible to offer a return of respite care for special needs children in the context of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business and the resumption of full services; and the plans and safeguards in place to protect special needs children (details supplied). [6606/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (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 

HSE Agency Staff

 661. Deputy Marian Harkin Information on Marian Harkin Zoom on Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a review has been carried out to compare the average hourly cost to the HSE in CHO1 of hours from the approved tender providers with the average hourly cost to the HSE of hours from the agencies which had been providing the service prior to the award in 2017 in advance of the renewal of the contract for healthcare assistant agency cover; if the tender process has been evaluated to investigate if there was a saving to the HSE on the average hourly cost of CHO1 hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6629/20]

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

National Public Health Emergency Team

 662. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the details of the members he approved for appointment to the National Public Health Emergency Team; if documentation on the way in which such persons were chosen will be provided; and the way in which he approved such appointments. [6645/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) for COVID-19 was established on 27 January 2020. It is chaired by the Chief Medical Officer. The NPHET oversees and provides national direction, guidance, support and expert advice on the development and implementation of a strategy to contain COVID-19 in Ireland.  It is not a permanent structure, but rather is established in response to emerging public health emergencies. 

  The NPHET is a long -standing mechanism, which has been utilised over many years to provide a forum to steer strategic approaches to public health emergencies in Ireland and to mobilise the necessary health service responses.  This is consistent with Ireland’s obligations under World Health Organisation International Health Regulations, where States are required to establish multidisciplinary /multisectoral teams to respond to events that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

The National Action Plan on COVID-19, published on 16 March, 2020 states that Ireland’s approach will be to “continue to deliver a public health-led evidence-based Government-wide response to COVID-19, including enabling the NPHET to advise across Government, drive immediate actions, and steer contingency planning, as well as appropriate and proportionate decision-making”.

   The composition of any particular NPHET established will depend on the nature of the particular public health threat in question.  There are currently 31 multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral members on the NPHET. The members are:

Members NPHET
Dr Tony Holohan (Chair) Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health (DOH)
Prof Colm Bergin Consultant Infectious Diseases, St. James’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin
Mr Paul Bolger Director, Resources Division, DOH
Dr Eibhlin Connolly Deputy Chief Medical Officer, DOH
Ms Tracey Conroy A/Sec, Acute Hospitals Division, DOH
Dr John Cuddihy Interim Director, Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC)
Dr Cillian de Gascun Director, National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL), UCD, Consultant Virologist
Mr Colm Desmond A/Sec, Corporate Legislation, Mental Health, Drugs Policy and Food Safety Division, DOH
Dr Lorraine Doherty National Clinical Director for Health Protection, HPSC, HSE
Dr Mary Favier President, Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP)
Dr Ronan Glynn Deputy Chief Medical Officer, DOH
Mr Fergal Goodman A/Sec, Primary Care Division, DOH
Dr Colm Henry Chief Clinical Officer, HSE
Dr Kevin Kelleher Asst. National Director, Public Health, HSE
Mr David Leach Deputy National Director of Communications, HSE
Dr Kathleen Mac Lellan A/Sec, Social Care Division, DOH
Dr Jeanette Mc Callion Medical Assessor, Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA)
Mr Tom McGuinness Asst. National Director, Office of Emergency Planning, HSE
Dr Siobhán Ní Bhrian Lead for Integrated Care, HSE
Prof Philip Nolan President, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Ms Kate O’Flaherty Head of Health and Wellbeing, DOH
Dr Darina O'Flanagan Special Advisor to the NPHET, DOH
Dr Siobhan O'Sullivan Chief Bioethics Officer, DOH
Dr Michael Power National Clinical Lead, Critical Care Programme, HSE

Consultant in Anaesthetics/Intensive Care Medicine, Beaumont Hospital
Mr Phelim Quinn Chief Executive Officer, HIQA
Dr Máirín Ryan Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health Technology Assessment, HIQA
Dr Alan Smith Deputy Chief Medical Officer, DOH
Dr Breda Smyth Director of Public Health Medicine, HSE
Mr David Walsh National Director, Community Operations, HSE
Ms Deirdre Watters Head of Communications, DOH
Mr Liam Woods National Director, Acute Operations, HSE


  As can be seen, representatives from across the healthcare landscape are included within the membership of the NPHET, including key agencies such as the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). The Chief Clinical Officer, National Director of Acute Operations and National Director for Community Operations are among the 11 representatives of the HSE on NPHET, as are the Interim Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and the National Clinical Director, Health Protection. The NPHET also communicates directly with the HSE National Crisis Management Team which leads and manages the HSE’s response.

  In addition, the NPHET benefits from the insights of medical professionals working at the frontline of the COVID-19 response through the members representing the Irish College of General Practitioners, and from the disciplines of intensive care, infectious diseases, virology, psychiatry and geriatrics.

  It is important to note that while NPHET is coordinating Ireland’s public health response to COVID-19 it is supported by nine sub-groups including Acute Hospitals; Vulnerable People; Irish Epidemiological Modelling; Health Sector Workforce and others. The NPHET is also supported in developing its recommendations by an Expert Advisory Group. All told, there are in excess of 200 people representing over 50 organisations across academia, Government, community & voluntary sectors as well as the breadth of the health system. Each provides their clinical, policy, and operational expertise to inform the advice that is presented to Government in response to the pandemic. The full governance arrangements for the NPHET were published by the Government on 28 April last at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/de1c30-national-public-health-emergency-team-nphet-for-covid-19-governance-/

  As the Deputy is aware, the NPHET is not an executive body in and of itself. Its members are drawn from across the public, voluntary and medical sectors and its remit is to provide me as Minister for Health, and the Government, with appropriate public health advice.

  Those members of the NPHET who are officials of the Department of Health are accountable to the Secretary General of the Department and to me. The CEO of the HSE, Mr Paul Reid, has nominated the HSE officials sitting on the NPHET, and a similar situation prevails with regard to the other organisations represented on the NPHET.

  The composition of any NPHET is dependent upon the nature of the threat being faced. In the current situation, in the face of a highly infectious and fast moving disease, where the understanding of the epidemiology of the virus is constantly evolving, it requires the flexibility to alter its membership on an ongoing basis and at pace in order to ensure that the appropriate expertise is available to deliver the best possible advice to myself and the Government.

  I am in continuous contact with the Secretary General of the Department, the Chief Medical Officer and the Management Board of the Department and am consistently briefed on the innovative and flexible approach that is being adopted in responding to this devastating new global public health threat.    

Covid-19 Pandemic

 663. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the procurement arrangements and contracts signed throughout the Covid-19 crisis for PPE; the cost of this equipment; if consideration has been made on behalf of the State to purchase the machinery to manufacture this vital equipment; and the estimated cost of PPE purchases to date. [6782/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As the HSE has responsibility for procurement issues, I have asked the agency to respond directly to the Deputy. 

National Children's Hospital

 664. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the financial impact the delays related to Covid-19 will have on the building of the national children’s hospital; the current projected cost; and when the project will be completed. [6783/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) has statutory responsibility for planning, designing, building and equipping the new children's hospital.  I have referred your question to the NPHDB for direct reply.

Disability Support Services

 665. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if children and adults with a disability will be included in the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business setting out the way in which the Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted. [6869/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (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.

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.

Cross-Border Health Initiatives

 666. Deputy Pa Daly Information on Pa Daly Zoom on Pa Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a cross-border directive application by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5577/20]

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

Dental Services

 667. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the provisions being made to provide dental surgeries with PPE; if consideration has been given to allowing dentists to buy PPE VAT free; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5617/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris A national approach to the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the Public Dental Service of the HSE has been initiated.  Dentists contracted by the HSE under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme can apply to the HSE for PPE. Additional PPE, above the normal PPE used in dentistry, may currently be required in certain instances depending on the occupational risk assessment of the dentist. However, the Dental Council is deliberating further on this and definitive clarification is awaited as to if and when such PPE may be required. 

Matters concerning VAT rates are the responsibility of the Minister for Finance.

Disabilities Assessments

 668. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the last occasion a service has seen or assessed a person (details supplied) who was originally assessed when the person was four or five years of age; the status of the services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5618/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (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. 

 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.

Hospital Appointments Status

 669. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a hospital appointment will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5739/20]

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, since 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 response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer all non-urgent elective scheduled care activity, including outpatient clinics. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the World Health Organisation, and the National Action Plan published on 16 March. The trajectory of the disease means there is now an opportunity for increasing the provision of non-covid care including more routine care. It is envisaged that the private hospitals will play an important role in this regard.

My Department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund are currently working together to estimate the impact of Covid 19 on Scheduled Care waiting lists, in order to be prepared to address any backlog or pent up demand. My Department continues to ensure that the resources available throughout our health system are best utilised at this unique and challenging time.

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

Hospital Appointments Status

 670. Deputy Pat Buckley Information on Pat Buckley Zoom on Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when a child (details supplied) will receive a date for an operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5744/20]

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, since 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 response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer all non-urgent elective scheduled care activity, including outpatient clinics. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the World Health Organisation, and the National Action Plan published on 16 March. The trajectory of the disease means there is now an opportunity for increasing the provision of non-covid care including more routine care. It is envisaged that the private hospitals will play an important role in this regard.

My Department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund are currently working together to estimate the impact of Covid 19 on Scheduled Care waiting lists, in order to be prepared to address any backlog or pent up demand. My Department continues to ensure that the resources available throughout our health system are best utilised at this unique and challenging time.

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

Health Services Staff

 671. Deputy Stephen Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if agency staff recruited through a company (details supplied) for the Be On Call for Ireland campaign are in receipt of the same benefits as a member of the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5746/20]

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

Dental Services

 672. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the provisions put in place to meet the needs of the public and private dental care sectors and the dental profession during the Covid-19 crisis and after the Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.  [5753/20]

 684. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when orthodontic treatment will be able to resume safely. [5799/20]

 691. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the financial supports being put in place to assist dentists during the Covid-19 emergency; his views on the future of dental care in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5807/20]

 699. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when orthodontists will be allowed to open their practices. [5820/20]

 700. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if assistance, financial or otherwise, will be provided to dental surgeries to cover the cost of PPE which will be required to be used as instructed by the Dental Council upon re-opening (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5821/20]

 737. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the assistance available to the dentistry profession (details supplied) during the Covid-19 crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6194/20]

 753. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the steps he is taking to assist dentists during the Covid-19 crisis; if they will be recompensated for PPE or provided with PPE by the State in order that they can continue to see patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6373/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 672, 684, 691, 699, 700, 737 and 753 together.

The necessary legislative amendments have now been made and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has worked with the dental profession and in particular the Dental Council, to provide revised guidance for the profession to allow for the resumption of the safe provision of routine care, including orthodontic care. This is in line with Phase 1 of the Government's Plan for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, from 18 May.

The Government has put in place a suite of measures to support small, medium and larger businesses that are negatively impacted by COVID-19. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has published a Return to Work Safely Protocol, which is designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Health and Safety Authority also provides information and advice for employers and employees in this regard.

A national approach to the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the Public Dental Service of the HSE has been initiated. Dentists contracted by the HSE under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme can apply to the HSE for PPE. Additional PPE, above the normal PPE used in dentistry, may currently be required in certain instances depending on the occupational risk assessment of the dentist. However, the Dental Council is deliberating further on this and definitive clarification is awaited as to if and when such PPE may be required.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 673. Deputy Steven Matthews Information on Steven  Matthews Zoom on Steven  Matthews asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the medical basis on which the decision to include cinemas in phase five of the re-opening plan was made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5758/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, published on 1 May 2020, sets out an indicative path to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and other actions in order to facilitate the reopening Ireland’s society and economy in a phased manner.

In relation to Cultural and Social Measures, including the opening of cinemas where social distancing can be maintained, the Roadmap sets out the public health rationale as follows:

Public health rationale : Recognises need to balance social distancing with physical, cultural and social needs, to support mental and physical health and wellbeing.  The public health rationale is to lift restrictions in such a way as to protect the ability to maintain social distancing prerequisite, thereby limiting the transmission rate and protect the capacity of the health system to cope with the inevitable increase in disease.  This will be done where the visiting population density can be minimised. Restrictions on sporting, entertainment, culinary and cultural sites to be relaxed on phased basis linked to ability to maintain social distance, with emphasis on sport and exercise in the initial and early phases, and social aspects in the later phases. 

Hospital Services

 674. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of outpatient healthcare appointments in particular colposcopies (details supplied). [5759/20]

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, since 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 response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer all non-urgent elective scheduled care activity, including outpatient clinics. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the World Health Organisation, and the National Action Plan published on 16 March. The trajectory of the disease means there is now an opportunity for increasing the provision of non-covid care including more routine care. It is envisaged that the private hospitals will play an important role in this regard.

My Department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund are currently working together to estimate the impact of Covid 19 on Scheduled Care waiting lists, in order to be prepared to address any backlog or pent up demand. My Department continues to ensure that the resources available throughout our health system are best utilised at this unique and challenging time.

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

Covid-19 Pandemic

 675. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of contact tracing episodes engaged in by relevant staff and organisations by date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5763/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As the HSE has responsibility, the Executive has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy.

Covid-19 Tests

 676. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of positive test results which have been followed up with contact tracing; the number of persons requested to self-isolate as a result of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5764/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As the HSE has responsibility, the Executive has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 677. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of patients who have contacted their general practitioners or medical centre or primary care centre or a hospital expressing a concern that they may have Covid-19 symptoms and did not receive a test for the virus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5765/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is an operational matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.


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