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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 283-297
 Header Item Autism Support Services
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Health Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Respite Care Services
 Header Item Freedom of Information
 Header Item Cancer Services
 Header Item Nursing Home Accommodation
 Header Item Nursing Home Accommodation
 Header Item Speech and Language Therapy
 Header Item Occupational Therapy

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 996 No. 2
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 101 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 283-297

Autism Support Services

 283. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of children diagnosed with autism and other behavioural conditions such as ADHD and so on in HSE CHO 7 that are on the waiting list for the early bird programme, speech and language therapy, psychology and occupational therapy; the average length of time the children will be waiting on the lists for the services in the area; and the number of children on the waiting list. [19265/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The recently published Programme for Government document "Our Shared Future" recognises the need to improve services for both children and adults with disabilities through better implementation and by working together across Government in a better way. 

  The  Government commits to prioritising early diagnosis and access to services for children and ensuring that the most effective interventions are provided for each child, to guarantee the best outcomes.

  As the Deputy's question relates to a service issue, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. 

Vaccination Programme

 284. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if children whose scheduled vaccines were cancelled during Covid-19 will receive them before the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year; if special clinics will be established to deal with the backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19276/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The HSE National Immunisation Office is responsible for managing vaccine procurement and distribution, and developing training and communication materials for the public and health professionals. 

  As the question raised by the Deputy is a matter for the National Immunisation Office, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

  Question No. 285 answered with Question No. 270.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 286. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if an information technology literacy campaign will be introduced for the elderly to assist them to communicate with loved ones as a result of the changes brought about during Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19279/20]

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

Health Services

 287. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of children under 18 years of age that have an acquired brain injury; the person or body that records data on children with the injury; the national strategy for the rehabilitation of children with the injury; and if such a national strategy exists, the steps being taken to implement the strategy for children with same. [19280/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The recently published Programme for Government document "Our Shared Future" recognises the need to improve services for both children and adults with disabilities through better implementation and by working together across Government in a better way. 

  The  Government commits to prioritising early diagnosis and access to services for children and ensuring that the most effective interventions are provided for each child, to guarantee the best outcomes.

  As the Deputy's questions relate to service issues, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply. 

Covid-19 Pandemic

 288. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will institute a campaign to assist young persons that have mental health challenges as a result of or exacerbated by Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19281/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Mary Butler): Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler The outbreak of COVID 19 throughout the world is a source of significant stress, anxiety, worry and fear for many people. This arises from the disease itself, as well as from impacts such as increased social isolation, disruption to daily life and uncertainty about employment and financial security.

The Government Action Plan in response to Covid-19, published on 16 March 2020, acknowledges the importance of people maintaining their wellbeing and resilience to push through this unprecedented outbreak. The Action Plan aims to reduce the risk of people becoming unwell and for those with a mild mental health issue, access to counselling and other interventions can provide much better positive outcomes.

 A psycho-social planning Group (HSE, DoH, NGO sector) has been established to plan for additional current and/or anticipated needs as post COVID.

In line with the WHO considerations, and the existing HSE guidelines, the Department of Health and HSE proposes a continuum of supports and a ‘stepped care’ approach to support the mental health and wellbeing needs of the population during and following the COVID 19 outbreak. This includes establishing strategies to ensure youth mental health is protected as schools prepare to re-open and exam results are disseminated. As part of the mental health response to COVID 19, a 4 step health approach is preferred:

1. A whole-population approach to raise awareness and promote mental health and wellbeing that will include additional supports for Junior and Leaving Certificate students. The Department of Health (led by Healthy Ireland team) and the HSE, in collaboration with key cross-Government and cross-sectoral partners, has developed a new mental wellbeing campaign.

2. Provision of life skills supports through Jigsaw online, youthreach and Foroige etc.

3. Provision of additional online supports such as counselling online through MyMind/Turn2Me etc.

4. Provision of online psychiatry supports for individuals with new/existing complex mental health needs (referral through primary care GP or Jigsaw).

The support services available for young people and families are listed on www.yourmentalhealth.ie and Gov.ie.

The HSE’s June Activity Performance Report indicates that residential and community mental health service activity has returned to close to pre-Covid levels.

The HSE, overseen by Dr Colm Henry (Chief Clinical Officer) and Dean Sullivan (Deputy Director General), is considering how to reintroduce/recommence services. Public health advice will guide the return to more comprehensive provision. Through its Business Continuity Plan, HSE Mental Health is considering ways to safely improve services in acute units, community residential settings and community teams, including telehealth technologies. Further engagement with NGO partners will maximise delivery through SLAs.

To plan for the ongoing and increasing need for mental health services, and the demand for more holistic person-centred responses across the whole community, the national mental health policy, Sharing the Vision, was published on 17th June 2020. The policy sets out a 10-year plan, including education, prevention and early intervention and additional access routes to treatment. The policy takes a lifecycle approach, and consequently includes recommendations for CAMHS services and positive mental health promotion for young people.  

The health service already has a range of proactive responses for any rise in service need. The Department and HSE continue to plan for any need surge as it arises and as services return to normal provision and capacity, subject to public health advice.

The Department of Health, with the HSE, will continue to monitor and maximise provision of CAMHS by the 71 CAMHS teams and 4 CAMHS inpatient units nationally for the remainder of the year, including HSE Service Plan activity levels. This ongoing performance monitoring will include full consideration of new approaches at national or local level to address waiting lists in an evolving Covid-19 situation.

The HSE has adapted provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) supports in Covid-19, and clinically urgent cases continue to be prioritised. CAMHS patients continue to access a comprehensive range of mental health supports specifically for Covid-19 issues, as appropriate.

The HSE Service Plan has a specific priority to continue to develop CAMHS inpatient and community-based services, and their integration with primary care services, as well as Talk Therapy and Child Mental Health Intellectual Disability teams.

The new HSE National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) complex at Portrane, recently used for Covid-19 purposes, will become operational early next year. This will involve the opening, on a phased basis, of the main forensic hospital, the Intensive Care Rehabilitation Unit and a forensic CAMHs Unit.

CAMHS Connect is a new e-mental health initiative to modernise mental health care nationally. The need for the potential roll-out of such a system nationally, in planning for some time, has been reinforced by Covid-19.

CAMHS Connect will improve access, reduce waiting times and address some staff recruitment and retention issues. Overall investment for the initial phase, the new Castlerea Mental Health Hub, is in the region of €2.6m.

Alongside the HSE’s YourMentalHealth.ie website, several state funded agencies have developed new ways of working during Covid-19. These include online support, additional telephone support lines and online training and peer support. These agencies are working with the HSE to determine future need based on uptake and are working with the HSE psychosocial response team on flexible responses to identified needs.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 289. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the provisions that have been made in the regulations which require persons to wear face masks for those persons that for certifiable medical reasons are unable to wear facemasks. [19339/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I would like to assure the Deputy that my Department appreciates the concerns around face coverings with regard to those who may not be in a position to wear them for medical reasons.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) continues to examine all emerging evidence as it arises and has provided advice relating to face coverings on an ongoing basis. NPHET advises the wearing of a non-medical face covering in a number of circumstances including in retail outlets, by people visiting the homes of those who are cocooning, by people who are being visited in their homes by those who are cocooning, by visitors to residential care facilities and in indoor work environments where it is difficult to maintain a two-metre distance. I would again emphasise that the wearing of face coverings is an additional hygiene measure and should not take the place of good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and other personal protective public health measures. Face coverings should be used properly, in line with the guidance and with individuals washing their hands before putting them on and taking them off.

On Friday 10 July 2020, having consulted with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Minister for Justice and Equality, I signed the Health Act (Covid-19)(Face Coverings on Public Transport) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 244/2020). The regulations provide that, from 13 July 2020, members of the public (excluding children under the age of 13) shall not, without reasonable excuse, travel by public transport without wearing a face covering.

Reasonable excuse includes where a person:

- cannot put one on, wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness, impairment or disability or without severe distress

- needs to communicate with another person who has difficulties communicating

- removes the face covering to provide emergency assistance or to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person

- removes the face covering to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury

- removes the face covering to take medication  

The Regulations provide that a “relevant person”, defined as an officer, employee or agent of a public transport operator or of the National Transport Authority, who is responsible for the implementation of the Regulations and it is, therefore, a matter for the public transport operators and the National Transport Authority to make arrangements for what they consider necessary to ensure that such “relevant persons” are satisfied with the information provided by any individual who is using a public transport service.

As I am sure will be appreciated, the evidence relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the discussion around face coverings is constantly evolving. The public health advice relating to Covid-19 is kept under continuing review by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), while the Government has now also agreed to the mandatory wearing of face coverings in retail outlets, shops and shopping centres. Retail staff will also be obliged to wear a face covering unless there is a partition between them and members of the public or where there is a distance of 2 metres between them and members of the public. The development of Regulations is this regard is underway and it is likely that similar “reasonable excuse” provisions will be included.

The Deputy may wish to note that the latest public health advice on face coverings is available at the following links and is updated on a regular basis:

www.gov.ie/facecoverings.

www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/face-masks-disposable-gloves.html.

Respite Care Services

 290. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when there will be a resumption of day and respite services for those with special needs and the day services provided by a service (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19341/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte 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.

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

Freedom of Information

 291. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of freedom of information requests being processed by his Department; the number that have had the deadline for reply extended; the number at least one week, two weeks, one month and over one month overdue, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19353/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The following table sets out, as of 27 July 2020, the number of Freedom of Information requests currently active (being processed) in my Department.  From these requests, it also sets out: the number of requests that have had a Section 14 extension applied (20 additional working days); the number of requests which are up to one week overdue; up to two weeks overdue; up to three weeks overdue; up to one month overdue and over a month overdue.

Number of requests currently active (being processed) Number of these requests where a S14 extension was applied Number of requests up to one week overdue Number of requests up to two weeks overdue Number of requests up to three weeks overdue Number of requests up to one month overdue Number of requests more than one month overdue
71 5 2 2 6 4 24

Cancer Services

 292. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans for the elimination of HPV-related cancers; the strategies that will need to be implemented in the coming twelve months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19360/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Government’s goal is to bring about the eradication of HPV-related cancers in Ireland.  A well organised screening programme, when combined with HPV vaccination for boys and girls, will help to achieve that goal. The Programme for Government commits to supporting the CervicalCheck Screening Programme and promoting the uptake of the HPV vaccine.

In 2009, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination for all 12 to 13 year old girls to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer when they are adults. In September 2010, the HPV vaccination programme was introduced for all girls in the first year of secondary school. 

The NIAC recommended that the HPV vaccine should also be given to boys. On foot of NIAC’s recommendation, my Department asked the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to undertake a health technology assessment (HTA) to establish the clinical and cost-effectiveness of extending the current immunisation programme to include boys in the first year of secondary school. HIQA completed the HTA in December 2018, recommending that the HPV immunisation programme be extended to include boys. A policy decision was made to extend the HPV immunisation programme to include boys. This started in September 2019 with the introduction of a 9-valent HPV vaccine. 

In relation to cancer screening, CervicalCheck made the technical transition to HPV cervical screening on 30 March 2020. This means that any test taken after this date is an HPV cervical screening test with follow-up cytology if required.

The move to HPV Cervical Screening means that Ireland joins a small group of nations that employs the best-in-class testing to screen their populations for cervical cancer.  Other countries include Australia, England, the Netherlands and Wales.

This improved testing methodology, along with the continued roll-out of HPV vaccinations, means that Ireland can look forward to a significant reduction in the incidence of cervical cancer cases over the next 10-20 years.

Nursing Home Accommodation

 293. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of persons under 65-years of age that are residing in public nursing homes nationally in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19364/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Mary Butler): Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Nursing Home Accommodation

 294. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of persons under 65-years of age that are residing in private nursing homes nationally in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19365/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Mary Butler): Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Speech and Language Therapy

 295. Deputy Pauline Tully Information on Pauline  Tully Zoom on Pauline  Tully asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of children in each county on the waiting list for speech and language therapy in 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19366/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The recently published Programme for Government document "Our Shared Future" recognises the need to improve services for both children and adults with disabilities through better implementation and by working together across Government in a better way. 

  The  Government commits to prioritising early diagnosis and access to services for children and ensuring that the most effective interventions are provided for each child, to guarantee the best outcomes.

  As the Deputy's question relates to a service issue, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. 

Occupational Therapy

 296. Deputy Pauline Tully Information on Pauline  Tully Zoom on Pauline  Tully asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of children in each county on the waiting list for occupational therapy in 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19367/20]

 297. Deputy Pauline Tully Information on Pauline  Tully Zoom on Pauline  Tully asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of adults in each county on the waiting list for occupational therapy in 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19368/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 296 and 297 together.

As these questions relates to service matters, I have arranged for the questions to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.


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