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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 185-204
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item General Practitioner Services
 Header Item Disease Management
 Header Item Primary Medical Certificates
 Header Item Primary Medical Certificates
 Header Item Abortion Services Provision
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Foster Care
 Header Item Home Help Service
 Header Item Health Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Mental Health Commission
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Departmental Meetings
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 997 No. 5
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 83 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 185-204

Covid-19 Tests

 185. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the cost of hiring an additional one medical scientist in testing laboratories. [24496/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Tests

 186. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the cost of providing at 10% pay rise to medical scientists and the hiring of an additional one medical scientist with this in mind [24497/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Hospital Appointments Status

 187. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the status of a hospital appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24508/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to pause most elective scheduled care activity with effect from the end March 2020. 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 National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines, and the National Action Plan.  

To ensure services are re-introduced in a safe, clinically aligned and prioritised way, the HSE launched its Strategic Framework for ‘Service Continuity in a Covid Environment’ on 24 June.  Its implementation will ensure service resumption is done in an integrated way. This will involve a phased approach to ensure community services are strengthened. The Framework will also consolidate new ways of working and build on international knowledge. Further detail regarding the phases of service resumption are contained in the HSE’s ‘A Safe Return to Health Services’ document, published on their website on 22 July. 

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 is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures.  It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 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.  

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 188. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will ease the current Covid-19 restrictions in maternity services to enable partners and birth partners of pregnant women to attend pre-natal scans, appointments and at childbirth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24521/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I acknowledge that the current restrictions in maternity hospitals are presenting difficulties and this is hugely regrettable.  However, it is necessary to reduce footfall in order to protect women, babies, staff and our maternity service as a whole. 

Maternity hospitals have performed well during the pandemic and have continued to keep women, babies and staff safe.  The fact that there have been no Covid maternal deaths in this country, and that we have a had a low incidence in pregnant women, suggests that the current approach is working.

However, we must remain vigilant as services resume and higher numbers of people attend hospitals. Maternity hospitals rely on very specialised personnel; should an outbreak of COVID-19 occur in a maternity hospital, the ability to provide safe, quality care would be severely impacted.  It should be remembered that maternity hospitals care for fragile infants at the extremes of prematurity.

All maternity hospitals are challenged by the pandemic, but those challenges vary considerably.  Decisions on any restrictions are therefore made, implemented and reviewed at hospital level.

Decisions to restrict visitors in our maternity hospitals have not been taken lightly.  Management and staff are acutely aware of the very important support provided by partners at the time of birth.  I have been assured that maternity hospitals wish to facilitate this support as far as possible.   In that context, I can assure the Deputy that any restrictions currently in place have been minimised as much as possible and will be subject to ongoing review.

General Practitioner Services

 189. Deputy Pa Daly Information on Pa Daly Zoom on Pa Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will consider the approval of two additional general practitioners or family doctors for a health centre (details supplied) to alleviate the lack of general practitioner care and out-of-hours coverage in the area. [24522/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Government is aware of the workforce issues facing general practice, including those affecting certain rural areas, and has implemented a range of measures in recent years to improve recruitment and retention in general practice. These measures include an increase in expenditure on GP services of €210 million annually by 2023 under the 2019 Agreement on GP contractual reforms and service developments, including an increase in support for rural practices and practices in urban areas of deprivation, as well as increases in the annual number of GP training places available to medical graduates.

Where a vacancy arises in a practice with a GMS contract, the HSE becomes actively involved in the recruitment process to find a replacement GP. However, I note that the health centre in question is a private practice and as such is free to recruit additional staff in accordance with its needs.

Disease Management

 190. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to address an issue (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24523/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly In relation to women’s health and the issue of endometriosis, I am glad to highlight the commitment to promoting women's health which is highlighted within the Programme for Government. This includes a specific commitment to supporting “the work of the Women’s Health Taskforce, including the development of a Women’s Health Action Plan, to tackle a wide range of issues impacting women’s health outcomes in Ireland.’ The Women’s Health Taskforce was established in September 2019 with the aim of improving women’s health outcomes and experiences of healthcare. A number of initial priority areas for action have been determined by the Taskforce, with the issue of endometriosis recognised and included as part of a priority workstream on improving gynaecological health for women and girls. These workstreams are currently developing proposals to improve women and girls' health and further updates will be made available on the official Women’s Health Taskforce webpage: https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/-womens-health/.

  Work related to this area is ongoing within HSE. The HSE’s National Women & Infants Health Programme has advised that the best way to help the majority of patients with endometriosis is to improve access to gynaecology services. As such, the Programme has developed a plan to increase capacity and reduce waiting times for women awaiting general gynaecology, which includes patients with endometriosis. The plan aims to re-orient general gynaecology services to an ambulatory, or see and treat, model, rather than the traditional outpatient referral model. An ambulatory care model is a more efficient and effective use of resources. It is also better for the patient as it reduces the requirement for multiple outpatient appointments. The roll out of Phase One of the new Model of Care has commenced, with the first three clinics to be established under the governance of the Rotunda Hospital, Cork University Maternity Hospital, and University Hospital Galway, with a more limited clinic in Waterford. Ultimately a maximum of 13 clinics will be established on a phased basis over the coming 3 to 4 years.

Primary Medical Certificates

 191. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when assessments for primary medical certificates will recommence at Roxtown health centre, Limerick city. [24524/20]

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 this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Primary Medical Certificates

 192. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when a person (details supplied) can expect to receive an assessment appointment for a primary medical certificate at the HSE Roxtown health centre, Limerick city [24525/20]

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 this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Abortion Services Provision

 193. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if enquiries were carried out by his Department to ascertain if women here were negatively impacted or suffered injury or death due to the prescription of abortion pills in view the death of two women in the UK after ingesting same prescribed by telemedicine during the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24545/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As the Deputy is aware, as part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to protect public health and limit the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Health and the HSE worked together to put new arrangements in place to temporarily allow termination of pregnancy services in early pregnancy to be provided remotely.

For the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, where the need for social distancing, reducing personal contacts and reducing the burden on medical practitioners are paramount, it will be possible for a woman to access a termination under section 12 of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 (i.e. before 12 weeks) from her medical practitioner by telephone or video conference consultation. 

The arrangement enabling remote consultation will be reviewed once the public health emergency is declared over.

There is ongoing engagement between the Department of Health and the HSE on the delivery of termination of pregnancy services.

Hospital Appointments Status

 194. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when a person (details supplied) can expect to receive an ENT consultation [24554/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to pause most elective scheduled care activity with effect from the end March 2020. 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 National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines, and the National Action Plan.  

To ensure services are re-introduced in a safe, clinically aligned and prioritised way, the HSE launched its Strategic Framework for ‘Service Continuity in a Covid Environment’ on 24 June.  Its implementation will ensure service resumption is done in an integrated way. This will involve a phased approach to ensure community services are strengthened. The Framework will also consolidate new ways of working and build on international knowledge. Further detail regarding the phases of service resumption are contained in the HSE’s ‘A Safe Return to Health Services’ document, published on their website on 22 July. 

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 is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures.  It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 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. 

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Foster Care

 195. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the status of the Farrelly Commission in relation to the Grace case; when the report of the commission will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24555/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I received correspondence from the Commission of Investigation (Certain Matters Relative to a Disability Service in the South East and Related Matters) ("the Farrelly Commission") on 22nd July 2020. The correspondence, in the form of an eighth interim report, included an application by the Farrelly Commission for a further time extension to allow it to complete its phase 1 work. 

The Commission’s request for an extension is in addition to two twelve-month extensions granted in May 2018 and May 2019, and a ten-week preliminary extension granted in May 2020 to allow it to identify the further time needed to complete its Phase 1 Final Report. 

I granted the Commission an interim extension to allow it to continue its work. The Minister for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, T.D. and I are considering the Commission's request for a further extension and the rationale for this and have arranged a meeting with the Commission in the coming week to discuss. A determination on the extension will be made following this meeting.

Home Help Service

 196. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if a home help package will be made available to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24573/20]

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 to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Health Services

 197. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his attention has been drawn to a registered letter (details supplied) addressed to him; if his officials attention has been drawn to the correspondence; if he has issued instructions to them on foot of same; if he will address and return responses to the twelve questions put to him by the person; his plans to inquire fully into the matters raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24582/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I understand that the correspondence referred to by the Deputy has been received and I will consider it in due course.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 198. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if, in consultation with NPHET, consideration will be given to a proposal from a federation (details supplied) [24583/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As the Deputy is no doubt aware on Tuesday 15 September, 2020 the Government published it's medium term plan 'Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021 - Plan for Living with COVID-19' which frames Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19 in a range of areas over the next 6 - 9 months.

  The plan sets out five levels of response, each with a number of measures designed to help us all lower COVID-19 transmission, and setting out what is permitted at that moment in time. It aims to allow society and businesses to be able to operate as normally as possible, while continuing to suppress the virus.

  Each level outlines what is permitted for social or family gatherings, work and public transport, bars, hotels and restaurants, exercise activities and religious services. Any measure included at any level in this plan is underpinned by expert advice and recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

  Ireland is currently at Level 2 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19 and it is intended that the public health measures at this level will be effective until 5 October, 2020. Arising from concerns over the incidence of COVID-19 in Dublin, and following the recommendation of the NPHET, the Government has agreed that additional measures will apply in the county. However, I would urge the Deputy and the federation to now review the current public health advice and information on the Plan for Living with COVID-19, available at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/. I believe that the detail set out in the new plan goes some way to meeting the needs of the sector.

Mental Health Commission

 199. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of lawyers, barristers and solicitors retained on the Mental Health Commission records to act as tribunal chairpersons [24586/20]

 202. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of barristers retained by the Mental Health Commission as chairpersons for tribunals [24598/20]

 203. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of solicitors retained by the Mental Health Commission as chairpersons for tribunals [24601/20]

 205. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of mental health tribunals held in 2019 and up to 31 August 2020 [24603/20]

 206. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the amount paid by the Mental Health Commission to chairpersons of tribunals in 2019 to 31 August 2020 [24605/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Mary Butler): Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler I propose to take Questions Nos. 199, 202, 203, 205 and 206 together.

1 - Professional Fees to Chairpersons (not including T&S)

  2019 – €1,349,635

  2020 (1.1.20 to 31.8.20) – €893,091

2. A total of 2,024 mental health tribunals took place in 2019. 1,326 mental health tribunals took place from 1 January 2020 to 31 August 2020. Please note that not all orders made result in a mental health tribunal.

3. There are 29 solicitors retained by the Mental Health Commission as tribunal chairpersons.

4. There are 63 barristers retained by the Mental Health Commission as tribunal chairpersons.

5. There are 92 lawyers, barristers and solicitors retained by the Mental Health Commission as tribunal chairpersons.

Dental Services

 200. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding medical card holders attending dental appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24587/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides dental care free of charge to medical card holders aged 16 and over. These services are provided by independent dental practitioners who have a contract with the HSE. The DTSS contract has not expired and is operated by approximately 1,400 private dentists throughout the country. After an interruption to services caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has worked with the dental profession and in particular the Dental Council, to provide revised guidance to enable the resumption of the safe provision of routine care.

I understand that a small number of dentists have withdrawn from the DTSS. I expect due process to be followed in respect of any withdrawal from the terms of a DTSS contract, in particular regarding an appropriate period of notice. I also expect dentists to continue to honour their ethical and contractual obligations to patients during the notice withdrawal period, to either provide a service or to ensure that patients are referred to another dentist who will provide a service. The HSE will assist medical card holders in accessing such treatment, if required.

Departmental Meetings

 201. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the meetings held by his officials from assistant principal level upwards with representatives of the food industry in relation to the issue of adult or child obesity in Ireland from 2011 to 2016; the dates, attendees and matters that were discussed at each meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24596/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan): Information on Frankie Feighan Zoom on Frankie Feighan The information sought is not readily available in the format requested by the Deputy.  My officials will collate the information required and will revert to the Deputy in the coming weeks.

  Questions Nos. 202 and 203 answered with Question No. 199.

Hospital Appointments Status

 204. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the status of an operation for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24602/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.


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