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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 678-692
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Speech and Language Therapy
 Header Item Respite Care Services
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item General Practitioner Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item HSE Staff
 Header Item Nursing Home Accommodation
 Header Item Nursing Home Accommodation
 Header Item Nursing Home Accommodation
 Header Item Disability Services Provision
 Header Item HSE Data

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 998 No. 5
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 120 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 678-692

Covid-19 Tests

 678. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to locate additional Covid-19 testing centres in County Wexford or the north Wexford area; if so, the locations in which the test centres will be based; the timelines for any works that are planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28378/20]

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.

Vaccination Programme

 679. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if there will be a sufficient supply of the flu vaccine for all who choose to have it administered in the coming months; if he foresees a shortage of flu vaccine; his plans to have the vaccine rolled out to all schools here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28374/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly Given the potential for the winter flu season in 2020/2021 to coincide with a resurgence of COVID, and the importance of minimising hospital attendance, the Government is expanding the provision of vaccination without charge to all of those in the at-risk groups, including healthcare workers, and to all children aged from 2 to 12 years inclusive.

The programme is being offered through GP’s and pharmacists and is not being delivered as a schools-based programme, as not all eligible children are of school age.

1.35 million doses of the Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine have been ordered this year, to be made available to all persons in an at-risk group aged from 6 months up. The HSE has also ordered 600,000 doses of the Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine, which is delivered via nasal drops rather than by injection and will be made available to children aged from 2 to 12 years.

The HSE is confident that the number of doses procured is sufficient to meet demand in the at-risk groups and this element of the vaccination programme has commenced. The vaccination programme for children is expected to commence from mid-October.

Those not covered by the publicly funded influenza vaccination programme can avail of influenza vaccination from GPs and pharmacists on a private basis. I understand that deliveries of the private supply of the intramuscular vaccine are expected to commence in the coming days. The Health Products Regulatory Authority Medicine Shortages Framework has not been notified of any shortages affecting the Irish market in relation to flu vaccines.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 680. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of deaths that have been declassified following incorrect classification as being Covid-19 related (details supplied); the correct number of deaths associated with Covid-19; his views on whether it is correct to classify all deaths as Covid-19 deaths simply due to a positive test result in cases in which a death may have not been related to Covid-19; if the public will be informed of the number of deaths that fall into this category; the number of Covid-19-related deaths that are subject to a coroner's report; the number of deaths have been deemed to be incorrectly classified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28392/20]

 750. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of persons who have died as a result of Covid-19; the number of persons who have died of other illness but also had Covid-19; the number of persons who died of other illness who had Covid-19 but who were Covid-19 asymptomatic, in the last year. [28779/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 680 and 750 together.

  Since the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) met for the first time, a commitment was given to collect and publish as much relevant data as possible while ensuring individual patient confidentiality is maintained at all times. While the nature and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, the collection of timely and comprehensive data has been instrumental in developing the health service response to Covid-19 and to the advice provided by NPHET and the Department of Health to assist Government decision-making in the wider response to the disease in Ireland.

  It should be noted that in Ireland, data are collected on COVID-19 related mortality for both lab confirmed and probable cases, in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in both hospitals and the community. It should also be noted that collection of COVID-19 related mortality data in Ireland exceeds that of many other countries in the world .

  The Deputy should note that comprehensive national statistics, information, and data about Covid-19 is published on a daily basis on the Department of Health website at www.gov.ie/en/organisation/department-of-health/ and on the Covid-19 Data Hub and Dashboards available at https://covid19ireland-geohive.hub.arcgis.com/. The published data are based on official figures provided by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and the Health Service Executive (HSE). All datasets, charts and maps are updated on an on-going basis and in line with newly published data.

  I would also direct the Deputy to the CSO website for access to a range of data relating to Covid-19 including the numbers of diagnosed cases and mortality data. This is available on the CSO Covid-19 Information Hub at www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-covid19/covid-19informationhub/ and, in particular, at www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/br/b-cdc/covid-19deathsandcasesseries12/.

  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

 681. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the total expenditure by the HSE on Covid-19 to date; a breakdown of the main areas of expenditure; the amount of increased capacity that has been added to the healthcare system since the onset of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28395/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Irish Government set out in its National Action Plan on Covid-19 16 key action aimed at flattening the curve of the pandemic outbreak in Ireland.

  The focus of the first 8 actions was effective communication to manage the public health response, caring for ‘at risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ members of society, ensuring the ability of the acute hospitals system to care for people during the pandemic, expansion of critical physical capacity, protecting our health workforce and maintaining access to essential health products, equipment and services.

  The implementation of the first 8 actions was the responsibility of the Health Service Executive supported by the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The total estimated Covid-19 related spend by the HSE to the 18th of September on delivering these eight actions is €1,886m set out as follows;

Area of Spend Total Spend (m)
Heading 2 Cross Cutting Actions €15
Heading 3 Communications €11
Heading 4 Community Care and Vulnerable Groups €356
Heading 5 Caring for People in Acute Services €600
Heading 6 Expanding Critical Physical Capacity €26
Heading 7 Expanding and Protecting our Health Workforce and essential workers €88
Heading 8 Maintaining access to essential health products and equipment and services necessary to support the management of Covid-19 €790
Total €1,886


Flattening the curve of the pandemic was essential given the capacity constraints which already existed in the Irish hospital system and the significant risk that Ireland’s hospital system would become overwhelmed very quickly. Ireland has the highest acute bed occupancy in Europe at 93% and one of the lowest levels of critical care beds per 1,000 of the population in Europe at 3.3.

  Given these capacity constraints in the acute hospital system a major focus from the onset of Covid-19 has been on increasing capacity to cope with the surge in demand that could arise from Covid-19 outbreaks. The Department of Health is working with the HSE to increase acute capacity in hospitals throughout the country.

  In the context of the current COVID-19 Pandemic response since March:

  - The number of critical care beds has increased by 42 since the start of the year to 297

  - Noncritical care bed capacity has increased by 324 to 11,597.

  In addition as part of the initial emergency response Increased bed capacity provided by the private hospital sector amounted to 1,900 inpatient beds, 600-day beds as well as 47 ICU and 54 HDU beds.

  To date the Government’s measures have been successful in flattening the curve and the additional capacity put in place has allowed the system to cope within the current response requirements.

Speech and Language Therapy

 682. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of children waiting for speech and therapy appointments in County Tipperary; if full speech and therapy services have resumed in the county; if there is a full complement of speech and language therapists working the county; if not, if there are vacancies waiting to be filled; if speech and language therapists have been redeployed to other areas since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28396/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The Programme for Government, 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 this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly.

Respite Care Services

 683. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when day and overnight respite sessions will recommence in each community health organisation, in tabular form. [28400/20]

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.

Hospital Services

 684. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to open a new dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanning unit in South Tipperary General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28401/20]

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.

General Practitioner Services

 685. 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 if his attention has been drawn to the chronic shortage of general practitioner services in Balbriggan, County Dublin, which has created lengthy waiting lists for appointments; his plans to alleviate the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28407/20]

 700. 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 if his attention has been drawn to the waiting lists of people who wish to be seen by a general practitioner in a facility (details supplied) and if it will be ensured that a greater number of general practitioners service the Balbriggan area to take pressure of the various medical centres and practices in the town. [28533/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 685 and 700 together.

The Government is aware of the workforce issues currently facing general practice, including the limited access to GP services in certain areas, and has implemented a number of measures to improve recruitment and retention in general practice.

The 2019 Agreement on GP contractual reforms will see the Government increase investment in general practice by approximately 40% (€210 million) over the next four years, providing for significant increases in capitation fees for GPs who participate in the reform programme and the introduction of new fees and subsidies for additional services such as the chronic disease programme. There will be increased support for GPs working in rural practices and for those in disadvantaged urban areas, and improvements have been made to maternity and paternity leave arrangements.

The number of GPs entering training has been increased steadily over the past ten years, rising from 120 in 2009 to 194 in 2020, with a further increase foreseen in 2021.

These measures will see an increase in the number of GPs working in the State, improving access to GP services for patients throughout the country.

In relation to GP services in Balbriggan specifically, as this relates to a services matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Tests

 686. 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 if a Covid-19 testing facility will be opened in Balbriggan, County Dublin; if not, if a facility will be opened in another area of north County Dublin which is in walking or cycling distance for persons living in the area in view of the size of the population and the fact the nearest test centre is 20 km away in Swords. [28409/20]

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.

HSE Staff

 687. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if it will be ensured that the HSE pay those employed as contact tracers working in tracing centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28415/20]

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.

Nursing Home Accommodation

 688. Deputy Réada Cronin Information on Réada Cronin Zoom on Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of patients being paid for fully or partially by the State in the various nursing homes run by a private operator (details supplied); the amount paid to each facility operated by the group in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28417/20]

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.

Nursing Home Accommodation

 689. Deputy Réada Cronin Information on Réada Cronin Zoom on Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the amount paid to private nursing homes here in each year of the past five years; the nature of the funding; the number of patients involved; the type of services provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28418/20]

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.

Nursing Home Accommodation

 690. Deputy Réada Cronin Information on Réada Cronin Zoom on Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if an inquiry will be carried out into the care of a patient (details supplied) with schizophrenia in a nursing home; the psychiatric qualifications of the staff responsible for their care in each year of their residences; the details of consultation and care plans devised between the nursing home, the social worker of the patient and local psychiatric services; the number of visits by the social worker; the number and nature of liaisons with local psychiatric services and local general practitioners involving their care; the nature of the dental care organised by the facility for the patient; if the full record of the patient at the home will be provided to their next of kin by categories (details supplied); the amount paid by the State to the home for the care of the person in each year of their residence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28419/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Mary Butler): Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler Nursing home providers are ultimately responsible for the safe care of their residents.

Under the Health Act 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2013 as amended each resident must have a care plan prepared following a comprehensive assessment, carried out by an appropriate health care professional immediately before or on admission to a nursing home. Registered providers must provide appropriate medical and health care, including a high standard of evidence-based nursing care in accordance with professional guidelines. In addition all nursing homes are required to have an accessible and effective complaints procedure, including an appeals process. They must investigate all complaints promptly, and following investigation put in place any measures required for improvement.

Since 2009 the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, is the statutory independent regulator in place for the nursing home sector, whether a HSE managed or a private nursing home. The Authority, established under the Health Act 2007, has significant and wide-ranging powers up to and including withdrawing the registration of a nursing home facility, which means that it can no longer operate as a service provider. This responsibility is underpinned by a comprehensive quality framework comprising of Registration Regulations, Care and Welfare Regulations and National Quality Standards.

During the response to COVID-19 nursing homes continue to be regulated by HIQA. HIQA, in discharging its duties determines, through examination of all information available to it, including site inspections, whether a nursing home meets the regulations in order to achieve and maintain its registration status. Should a nursing home be deemed to be non-compliant with the Regulations and the National Quality Standards, it may either fail to achieve or lose its registration status. In addition, the Chief Inspector has wide discretion in deciding whether to impose conditions of Registration on nursing homes. HIQA welcomes information about designated centres for dependent persons, reviews all information about services received and evaluates it against the regulations and standards. As a regulator HIQA has no formal legal role in examining individual complaints, however, the Authority does take into account all information it receives, including complaints from the public, when carrying out inspections. If a concern is raised about a nursing home, HIQA reviews all information received to inform its on-going risk-based regulation activities.

On 19 August 2020, both Minister Donnelly and I launched the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel Report. This is a significant piece of work which provides a range of recommendations in line with lessons learned to date and international best practice, aimed to safeguard the residents in nursing homes over the next 12-18 months and into the longer term. The report is also informative in identifying areas of older persons’ service and care delivery requiring consideration for further reform. Many of these themes are reflected in the Programme for Government.

Implementing the Report’s short-term recommendations will ensure the ongoing protection of nursing home residents, the preparedness of the nursing homes sector and the health system in response to COVID-19 and the winter ahead. This will involve building on emerging good practice.

In relation to the payment aspect of the request I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy.

Disability Services Provision

 691. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly further to Parliamentary Question No. 607 of 3 June 2020, the steps he will take or has taken to provide the services and supports for a person (details supplied); the action he will take and the funding he will provide to address the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28495/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The Programme for Government, 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 this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

HSE Data

 692. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the cost of the ongoing roll-out of the SAP payroll system throughout the HSE; the number of HSE employees directly involved in the project; the number of consultants involved and the cost of these; the travel and accommodation costs associated with the national integrated staff records and pay programme; if there was a procurement process and, if so, if he will provide the details and outcome of the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28498/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy on these matters, as soon as possible.


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