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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 306-320
 Header Item Tobacco Control Measures
 Header Item Tobacco Control Measures
 Header Item Community Welfare Services
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Child Protection
 Header Item Hospital Car Parks
 Header Item Hospital Car Parks
 Header Item Hospital Car Parks
 Header Item Hospital Staff
 Header Item Health Services
 Header Item Mental Health Services

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 306-320

Tobacco Control Measures

 306. 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 number of retail outlets registered to sell tobacco on the national register of tobacco retailers in 2020 to date in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17695/21]

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.

Tobacco Control Measures

 307. 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 estimated amount of revenue that would be raised annually if an annual €500 tobacco retailer licence fee per retail outlet was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17696/21]

 308. 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 retail outlets in Ireland are required to register with a State body if they seek to sell electronic cigarettes; if so, the number of outlets in Ireland that are licensed to sell electronic cigarettes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17698/21]

 309. 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 estimated amount of revenue that would be raised annually if an annual €50 electronic cigarette retailer licence fee per retail outlet was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17699/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 307 to 309, inclusive, together.

The current General Scheme for a Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill provides for the introduction of a licensing system for the retail sale of tobacco products and nicotine inhaling products (including electronic cigarettes). Under the proposed system, an annual licence will be required for each outlet where tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products are sold. The proposed annual fee is yet to be determined.

Currently there is a registration requirement for retail outlets that sell tobacco products. Retailers must register on a once-off basis and require only a single registration irrespective of the number of retail outlets. There is no registration requirement for the retail sale of nicotine inhaling products.

It is not possible to estimate the number of retail outlets that would opt to sell or continue to sell tobacco products or nicotine inhaling products on the introduction of a requirement for an annual licence and fee.

Community Welfare Services

 310. Deputy Johnny Mythen Information on Johnny Mythen Zoom on Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of persons waiting for motorised wheelchairs in community healthcare organisation area 5 for the latest available date by area in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17718/21]

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

 311. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of front-line workers eligible for Covid-19 vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17724/21]

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

 312. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if funeral directors have been considered for early vaccination against Covid-19 given their proximity to deceased victims of same and to family members of positive patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17730/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

  On the 23rd of February, I announced an update to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy. In comprising the initial Vaccine Allocation Strategy, the NIAC listed several conditions associated with increased risk of severe disease and death. In the intervening period, national and international evidence has become available which has enabled a more detailed analysis of underlying conditions that may increase the risk of developing severe disease or death. The NIAC has now been able to more comprehensively identify those medical conditions and to distinguish between those which place a person at very high or high risk of severe disease if they contract the virus. Medical conditions and the magnitude of the risk they pose will continue to be monitored and periodically reviewed.

  On the 30th of March, the Government approved a further update to the COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Strategy. Based on clinical, scientific and ethical frameworks produced by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and my Department, following the vaccination of those most at risk, future groups will be vaccinated by age, in cohorts of 10 years (i.e., 64-55; 54-45, etc.).

  The move to an age-based model better supports the programme objectives by:

  - protecting those at highest risk of severe disease first, which benefits everyone most;

  - facilitating planning and execution of the programme across the entire country;

  - improving transparency and fairness.

  Further details are available here:

  https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/93f8f-minister-donnelly-announces-update-to-irelands-vaccination-prioritisation-list/

Child Protection

 313. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the cost associated with the practice of his Department of collating and maintaining dossiers of sensitive information on children with autism who were involved in legal actions against the State in each of the years 2010 to 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17734/21]

 314. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to ensure that all families affected by the practice of his Department of collating and maintaining dossiers of sensitive information on children with autism who were involved in legal actions against the State will be informed of this fact and provided with copies of all documentation of this nature; when he plans for contact to be made with these families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17735/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 313 and 314 together.

I take the allegations made in recent media reports extremely seriously. A team has been set up to establish the facts in respect of specific allegations made in the RTÉ Prime Time programme on 25th March 2021. The Department has engaged with the Data Protection Commissioner.

The allegations which were the subject of the RTÉ Prime Time programme on March 25th were brought to the Department's attention last year. The Department took the matters raised very seriously and commissioned an independent, expert review by an external Senior Counsel. This review was completed in November 2020. Subject to clarification of legal matters, I intend to publish this review at the earliest possible opportunity.

Hospital Car Parks

 315. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the amount collected in parking charges at all State hospitals; and the breakdown by location and annual amount in each of the years 2018 to 2020 and to date in 2021. [17736/21]

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 Car Parks

 316. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of instances in which hospital management or operators of their car parks have used debt collection companies to collect outstanding fees in each of the years 2018 to 2020 and to date in 2021. [17737/21]

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 Car Parks

 317. 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 he will consider introducing a car park fee waiver scheme for persons that are required to attend hospitals on a frequent and prolonged basis. [17738/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Programme for Government makes a commitment to introduce a cap on the maximum daily charge for patients and visitors at all public hospitals, where possible and to introduce flexible passes in all public hospitals for patients and their families. I am very aware of the financial burden this issue can cause some patients and families. Accordingly, my Department and the HSE are currently examining the issue.

Hospital Staff

 318. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly further to Parliamentary Question No. 1429 of 24 March 2021, if a guarantee will be provided that student radiographers will be treated the same as student nurses and midwives (details supplied); if student radiographers will receive a standardised travel and accommodation allowances, a pandemic payment grant and internship payment in their fourth year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17740/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As set out in my previous response, radiography students do not receive an allowance to support time spent on placement as part of their course. There are no plans to change this.

Student nurses and midwives differ from radiography students in that, uniquely there is, in the final year, a paid salary when they are specifically employed on an internship placement.

It should be noted that across the health and social care disciplines, there could be over 8,000 students on placement in hospital and healthcare settings. Of this number, around a third are final year students. The length of placements and the activities performed during these placements vary between the disciplines. These students are not employees and in many cases the nature of the placement can, in the main, be limited to participation in an observing and a learning capacity.

Health Services

 319. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his attention has been drawn to the significant upfront cost for women who use a long-acting reversible contraceptive (details supplied) to control their fertility; his views on whether this cost is prohibitive for many women and an unfair financial burden on them; if he will take steps to make contraceptive products free for those who need them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17741/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Working Group Report on Access to Contraception examined the range of policy, regulatory and legislative issues arising in relation to improving access to contraception, including consideration of the use of LARCs. The report found that barriers to accessing contraception do exist for some people and that these barriers go beyond cost to include embarrassment, lack of knowledge, inconvenience and lack of local access. At the same time, the report was clear that contraception use in Ireland is high and stable.

Eligibility for access to contraceptive products is currently governed by the same eligibility framework as applies more broadly in the Irish healthcare system, and the supports available to individuals in terms of mitigating the cost of LARCs are also the same.

Those who hold a medical card can access contraception, including LARCs, free of charge except for a €1.50 per item prescription charge levied at the pharmacy. In addition, those who possess GP visit cards can see their doctor without charge, effectively removing the clinical cost associated with LARCs, although the individual would still have to pay for the product itself.

For those not in possession of either a medical card or GP visit card, contraception is considered as an out-of-pocket expense. However, the Drug Payment Scheme covers in full the cost of prescribed medication in excess of €114 a month for an individual or family which can serve to limit this cost.

Despite the delay caused by the need to focus on and prioritise the response to the current pandemic, it remains a commitment of this Government to provide free contraception over a phased period, beginning with women aged 17-25.

Mental Health Services

 320. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to increase capacity at the Central Mental Hospital in the short term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17742/21]

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.


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