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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 359-371
 Header Item Eating Disorders
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item General Practitioner Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Tests
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Departmental Reports

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. 359-371

  Questions Nos. 359 and 360 answered with Question No. 294.

Eating Disorders

 361. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne Information on Violet-Anne Wynne Zoom on Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of dieticians and specially trained staff for eating disorders allocated to the CAMHS aftercare services in County Clare; the aftercare services available in Ennis for patients with eating disorders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18022/21]

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.

Dental Services

 362. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne Information on Violet-Anne Wynne Zoom on Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of dentists in County Clare who received payments from the dental treatment services scheme in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021, in tabular form; the number of dentists in County Clare who made claims for payment in relation to new dental patients; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that most dental clinics are now not taking on new medical card patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18023/21]

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.

General Practitioner Services

 363. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne Information on Violet-Anne Wynne Zoom on Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to introduce a scheme to address the problem with replacing general practitioners in County Clare in which some general practitioners are retiring due to lack of housing and services available in many areas given there is no incentive for new general practitioners to relocate to areas in the county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18024/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly GPs are self-employed private practitioners and therefore may establish practices at a place of their own choosing. Under the GMS scheme, the HSE contracts GPs to provide medical services without charge to medical card and GP visit card holders. Where a vacancy arises in a practice with a GMS contract, the HSE becomes actively involved in the selection process to find a replacement GP. As of 1 March 2021, there are no GMS GP vacancies in County Clare.

The Government, aware of the workforce issues currently facing general practice, has implemented a number of measures to improve recruitment and retention in general practice. These include changes to the entry provisions to the GMS scheme to accommodate more flexible/shared GMS GP contracts, and to the retirement provisions for GPs under the GMS scheme, allowing GPs to hold GMS contracts until their 72nd birthday as well as the introduction of supports for rural GP practices.

Following agreement with GPs in 2019 on a range of service developments and reforms, the Government has committed to increasing investment in general practice by approximately 40% (€210 million) over the period 2019 and 2023.

The Agreement provides 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 is also increased support for GPs working in rural practices and for those in disadvantaged urban areas as well as improvements to maternity and paternity leave arrangements.

In addition, the number of GPs entering training has increased steadily over the past number of years, rising from 120 in 2009 to 214 in 2020, with a further increase foreseen in 2021. The ICGP noted a record number of applications for the 2021 GP training programme.

I am confident that 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.

Covid-19 Tests

 364. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of tests for Covid-19 undertaken daily in each of the walk-in testing centres since they opened; the positivity rate in each centre; if the positive cases from the walk-in clinics are being contact traced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18025/21]

 367. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the percentage of positive cases for Covid-19 that are contact traced; the number of days on average that contact tracing goes back to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18028/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 364 and 367 together.

  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

 365. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the total population of agency nurses and healthcare assistants; the number of these who are vaccinated; the way in which the remainder will be identified for vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18026/21]

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 366. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of persons that arrived here in each week from 8 March 2021 to date and declared on the passenger locator form that they had been in one of the 33 designated states in the previous 14 days; the number from each designated state in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18027/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly All passengers arriving into the state are required to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form (PLF) in accordance with SI 45/2021. There are limited exemptions from this requirement, as set out in the regulations, such as for international transport workers or for diplomats. The Passenger Locator Form is used to support a system of engagements with arriving passengers including the targeting of public health messaging by SMS and may be used for contact tracing.

  It should be noted that PLF data does not constitute formal arrival data into the state, due to the different intended purpose for the system and also the number of exempted persons as set out above. In addition, some passengers may complete a PLF in advance but be unable to travel as intended, and the data below may include some duplicates for certain travellers. Passengers may have completed a PLF and continued their journey without staying overnight in the state or having transiting onto Northern Ireland.

  The data below is an indicative number of passengers whose journey originated in a designated state as well as those passengers that listed a designated state in their recent travel history from 8 March to 21 March. This is the most recent date with validated data. A total of 33 states are designated by the Minister.

  26,118 Passenger Locator Forms were completed 8th March – 21st March from all countries of departure for relevant travellers.

  5% of the Passenger Locator Forms indicated a designated state during this period.

  The data provided below is where a minimum number of 10 arrived from a designated state, as providing any smaller numbers could risk identifying individual passengers. Where a passenger has declared that they have travelled in a number of designated states prior to arriving into Ireland, the most recent state is reported. Passengers will only appear once on this report.

  The data in the table below includes the number of accompanying children under 16 declared on the PLF. No further information is recorded on passengers under 16 years of age.

  The figures below are subject to change due to ongoing data cleansing e.g. duplication where passengers completed the PLF twice.

  08-14 Mar 15-21 Mar Total
Brazil 449 246 695
UAE 290 180 470
South Africa 89 50 139
Argentina 37 18 55
Austria 13 15 28
Chile - 13 13
Other states* 76 48 124
Total 954 570 1524


   *Other states -

  Angola, Botswana, Bolivia, Burundi, Cape Verde, Colombia, Chile, DR Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Suriname, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

  Question No. 367 answered with Question No. 364.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 368. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if the private security contractor overseeing compliance in mandatory hotel quarantine has expertise in or has had training specific to policing quarantine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18029/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Mandatory Hotel Quarantine service provider is required to provide a Private Security Authority (PSA) licensed contractor to be always present at the Designated Facilities. The service provider must ensure that all personnel who carry out a security function comply with the licensing requirements of the Private Security Authority and must comply with the Private Security Services Act 2004.

The licensed private security contractor has a 24/7 on-site presence at each designated facility. The private security services are required to ensure that guests adhere to all infection prevention and control protocols during their stay, and to ensure access to the hotel is controlled. Should a guest attempt to leave the facility without permission before completion of quarantine, security personnel are required to report any such incident to the facility’s State Liaison Officer immediately and to An Garda Síochána.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 369. 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 a person who works on rotation of five weeks on an oil rig 200 miles off the coast of Brazil and five weeks at home will have to go into supervised quarantine each time they come home; if not, if they are considered a seafarer carrying out their employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18037/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Health Act 1947, as amended, provides that all persons arriving in Ireland from a designated state, or having travelled through a designated state in the previous 14 days, are required to undergo mandatory quarantine in a designated facility unless they are an exempted traveller under the Act. The full list of exempted travellers is available on gov.ie/quarantine.

The provisions of the Act also allows for travellers to request a review of decisions relating to their quarantine. However this can only be undertaken once quarantine has begun.

The Act refers to a "...maritime master or maritime crew who arrives in the State in the course of performing his or her duties" as an exempted traveller. This provision would not therefore apply to person working on an oil rig, as they are not a seafarer nor are they arriving in the State in the course of performing their duties. Furthermore this provision applies only to maritime crew on-board ship serving Irish ports.

Neither I as Minister for Health nor my Department have any role in decisions relating to whether individual persons must enter mandatory quarantine or whether individual persons are exempted travellers. All such decisions are to be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 370. 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 persons returning from red listed countries who have a vaccine certificate will have to go into supervised quarantine for two weeks at their own expense; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18038/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Health Act 1947, as amended, provides that all persons arriving in Ireland from a designated state, or having travelled through a designated state in the previous 14 days, are required to undergo mandatory quarantine in a designated facility unless they are an exempted traveller under the Act.

A National Oversight Group for Variants of Concern has been established to monitor and address the challenges posed by variants of COVID-19, including the potential for a difference in the effectiveness of various vaccines against those variants. Quarantine of persons arriving from areas with a high incidence of variants of concern is considered a deterrent against the emergence of such variants in the state and as such all persons arriving from those designated states are required to undergo mandatory quarantine in a designated facility, regardless of vaccination status, unless otherwise exempt.

The designation of states will be subject to ongoing review in line with the provisions of Section 38B of the Health Act 1947, which was inserted by the Health (Amendment) Act 2021.

Departmental Reports

 371. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans to comply with the request from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health that he make the senior counsel report on the allegations of a whistleblower (details supplied) available to the whistleblower immediately and publish it a few days later. [18050/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly 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.

My Department and I have active and ongoing engagement with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health. I trust this sets out my intentions in respect of this request clearly.


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