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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1611-1630
 Header Item Hospital Staff
 Header Item Hospital Staff
 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Primary Medical Certificates
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item Alcohol Pricing
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item HSE Properties
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item HSE Data
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Disability Services Funding
 Header Item Physiotherapy Services
 Header Item Vaccination Programme

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 7
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 207 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1611-1630

Hospital Staff

 1611. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of nurses, consultants, doctors, administrators and HCAs, respectively employed and in work in Cork University Hospital from January 2020 to date by month in tabular form. [18430/21]

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 Staff

 1612. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of nurses, consultants, doctors, administrators and HCAs, respectively employed but absent from work in Cork University Hospital from January 2020 to date by month in tabular form. [18431/21]

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.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

 1613. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Sean Fleming Zoom on Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the current position regarding a fair deal scheme application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18450/21]

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

Dental Services

 1614. Deputy Johnny Mythen Information on Johnny Mythen Zoom on Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his attention has been drawn to the dramatic decrease of dentists with dental treatment service scheme contracts in County Wexford between 2020 and to date in 2021; his plans to address this decrease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18452/21]

 1810. Deputy Johnny Mythen Information on Johnny Mythen Zoom on Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his attention has been brought to the dramatic decrease of dentists with dental treatment service scheme contracts in County Wexford between 2020-2021; his plans to address this decrease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19035/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 1614 and 1810 together.

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. Patients may choose to have their treatment undertaken by any dentist who participates in the Scheme.

I am aware that there has been a reduction in the numbers of dentists participating in the DTSS nationally, including in Co Wexford, since the beginning of the current COVID-19 pandemic and that this is causing inconvenience to some patients.

I want to ensure the sustainability and viability of the Dental Treatment Services Scheme so that all eligible persons can continue to receive the services that they deserve from their local dentist of choice. My commitment to the profession and to the public is for a fundamental review of the Scheme, in keeping with Smile agus Sláinte, the National Oral Health Policy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the roll-out of that Policy to be delayed and the review of the Scheme to be deferred. I have, however, asked my officials and the HSE to bring forward proposals to address the immediate concerns that the Deputy has raised so that eligible persons can continue to have access to vital dental services in their local area. I have also been assured by the HSE that their local services on the ground will assist any persons who are experiencing problems in accessing a service.

Dental Services

 1615. 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 adults on the dental appointment waiting list in County Wexford; the average waiting time for appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18453/21]

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.   

Dental Services

 1616. 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 children on the dental appointment waiting list in each county; the average waiting time for appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18454/21]

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

 1617. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if a residential care worker is deemed not fit to go back to work but cleared to return to work by their cardiologist will be permitted to return to work once fully vaccinated (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18456/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly On 30th March, the Government update its advice for those who are fully vaccinated. Updated advice states that for those aged over 70 years and over and others at increased risk of severe illness who are fully vaccinated it is generally safe to return to work if their presence on site is essential, for example for certain healthcare workers. This may not apply for those who are at a high risk because of a problem with their immune system. The updated guidance from the HPSC for those most vulnerable to the severe impacts of COVID-19 that have been fully vaccinated is available on the HPSC website (https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/peopleatincreasedriskofsevereillness/othersatincreasedriskofsevereillness/).

In addition, updated occupational health guidance for Fitness for Work of Healthcare Workers in the Higher Risk Categories has been published by the HSE. Again, this advises that those healthcare workers over 70 and those with certain underlying health conditions can return to work once they are fully vaccinated, with the exception of those that are immune-compromised. The guidance is available here: https://www.hse.ie/eng/staff/workplace-health-and-wellbeing-unit/covid-19-guidance/guidance-on-fitness-for-work-of-healthcare-workers-in-the-higher-risk-categories.pdf  

  It is important to emphasise that the current guidance remains that everyone should continue to work from home if they can do so and this also applies to those that are fully vaccinated. It is also important to note that full protection is generally not in place if it has been less than 2 weeks since the second vaccine dose.

Primary Medical Certificates

 1618. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of primary medical certificate applications received in counties Galway and Roscommon, respectively, for each month in 2019, 2020 and 2021; the number of medical assessments performed each month; the corresponding number of applications approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18459/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme is underpinned by statute and comes under the remit of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners.

  The extent of the involvement of Health Service Executive (HSE) Community Medical Doctors in the Scheme relates to making a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant meets the specified medical criteria for a Primary Medical Certificate, which is a requirement for the Scheme.

  The Deputy may be aware that following a Supreme Court decision of June 2020, the assessment process for Primary Medical Certificates was suspended at the request of the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D.. Following the approval of the Finance Act 2020 which provides for the medical criteria in primary legislation, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, T.D., issued an instruction to the HSE to recommence assessments from 1st January, 2021.

  The ability to hold assessments has been impacted by, among other things, the public health restrictions in place to suppress and manage the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately there are delays in the processing of assessments due to the involvement of the HSE Medical Doctors in the national COVID-19 response, which I know are causing undue strain on applicants.

  I recently met again with the HSE to discuss the issues around the delay in accessing Primary Medical Certificate assessments. The HSE has confirmed that the assessment process has recommenced. The HSE has also confirmed that it will continue to monitor the situation in the context of resuming the range of services that are provided by Community Medical Doctors under the HSE Service Recovery and Restoration Plan, taking into account the pressures and challenges to the health services presented by COVID.

  As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the HSE for consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 1619. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Sean Sherlock Zoom on Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the reason restrictions allow persons to meet outside but not in a private garden. [18462/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly NPHET has consistently advised that outdoor settings are safer than indoor ones. However, it is important to note that while outdoors is safer, it is not risk-free and the same level of risk does not necessarily apply to all outdoor gatherings, activities or environments.

Throughout the pandemic, public health measures have differentiated between outdoor gatherings in public settings and in private gardens. The measures that have applied to a household setting have generally also applied to private gardens. This is in recognition of the increased risk that a gathering in a private garden will be accompanied by or result in interhousehold mixing indoors in the household setting.

Special Educational Needs

 1620. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the supports available to families that are forced to seek private assistance for children with diagnosis of dyslexia or dyspraxia due to the extensive waiting times through the public system; and if families can seek recompense through the HSE or his Department for the substantial financial outlay for services. [18469/21]

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

Alcohol Pricing

 1621. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if the issue of minimum alcohol pricing in Ireland and in Northern Ireland will be discussed at future North South Ministerial Council meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18478/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly Minimum Unit Pricing formed part of the discussions I had with Minister Swann and Minister Kearney at the recent North South Ministerial Council - Health and Food Safety Meeting of the 26 March this year. At the meeting we noted the continuing progress on the development and implementation of strategies to prevent the harm related to alcohol and drug misuse in both jurisdictions.

The North South Ministerial Council agreed to meet again in its Health and Food Safety sectoral format in late 2021. The agenda for that meeting has not yet been finalised by the Council Secretariat.

Health Services Provision

 1622. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the reason transfer of services between counties was delayed for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18481/21]

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

HSE Properties

 1623. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans for HSE owned land at Coille Dios estate, Athboy, County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18482/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the management of the public healthcare property estate, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to you in relation to this matter.

Vaccination Programme

 1624. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will investigate reports that a medical practice (details supplied) will only receive a vaccination delivery every two weeks which is causing considerable delays to the vaccination roll-out programme in the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18490/21]

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.

HSE Data

 1625. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of bariatric surgeries that have taken place each year since 2010 by region in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18491/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The HSE is currently recommending that only critical time dependent elective procedures are undertaken at this time due to the on-going and significant increased demand for bed capacity related to COVID-19.

This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions and to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work.

Patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols. The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such as the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.

On 23 March the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”. This plan outlines a three phased plan for the proposed restoration of services across Community Services, Acute Hospital Operations, Cancer Services and Screening Services. It sets target times for their safe return and details the conditions and challenges that will have to be met.

Every phase of the plan has been informed by clinical guidance and putting patient and staff safety first.

Decisions in relation to the type and volume of activity will be made at site level based on local COVID-19 numbers, available capacity and guidance from national clinical leads.

The schedule outlined in the plan for resumption of services will be regularly monitored by the HSE and updated as appropriate, dependant on public health advice and healthcare capacity.

The work of the HSE to improve access to elective care and reduce waiting times for patients is supported by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). This includes increased use of private hospitals, funding weekend and evening work in public hospitals, funding “see and treat” services where minor procedures are provided at the same time as outpatient consultations, funding hybrid services where public and private hospitals contribute to the treatment of patients, virtual clinics and clinical validation.

€240 million has been provided in Budget 2021 for an access to care fund, €210m of which has been allocated to the HSE and a further €30m to the National Treatment Purchase Fund. This will be used to fund additional capacity to address the shortfall arising as a result of measures taken in the context of COVID-19, as well as to address waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised regarding the number of bariatric surgeries that have taken place each year since 2010 by region in tabular form, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 1626. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the waiting time for all those waiting for bariatric surgery for three years or more, less than three years and less than 12 months by region in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18492/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  The HSE is currently recommending that only critical time dependent elective procedures are undertaken at this time due to the on-going and significant increased demand for bed capacity related to COVID-19.

  This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions and to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work.

  Patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols. The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such as the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.

  On 23 March the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”. This plan outlines a three phased plan for the proposed restoration of services across Community Services, Acute Hospital Operations, Cancer Services and Screening Services. It sets target times for their safe return and details the conditions and challenges that will have to be met.

  Every phase of the plan has been informed by clinical guidance and putting patient and staff safety first.

  Decisions in relation to the type and volume of activity will be made at site level based on local COVID-19 numbers, available capacity and guidance from national clinical leads.

  The schedule outlined in the plan for resumption of services will be regularly monitored by the HSE and updated as appropriate, dependant on public health advice and healthcare capacity.

  The work of the HSE to improve access to elective care and reduce waiting times for patients is supported by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). This includes increased use of private hospitals, funding weekend and evening work in public hospitals, funding “see and treat” services where minor procedures are provided at the same time as outpatient consultations, funding hybrid services where public and private hospitals contribute to the treatment of patients, virtual clinics and clinical validation.

  The Government’s Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan is a 10-step multi-sectoral action plan. This action plan identified the requirement for access to Bariatric services to be strengthened so as to build a holistic and integrated system that can meet the growing needs across the population.

  The HSE have advised the Department that the appointment of clinical leadership for Obesity is a key action under the Policy. The HSE established the Healthy Eating Active Living Policy Priority Programme in late 2016, and in 2017 the National Obesity Management Programme was set up by the HSE Health & Wellbeing Division. The primary objective of the HSE Obesity Management Programme is to improve access to services and quality of care for overweight people in Ireland. This will be achieved by developing integrated models of care that strengthen prevention, identification, early intervention and treatment for overweight and obesity across primary care and acute services for both children and adults.

  €240 million has been provided in Budget 2021 for an access to care fund, €210m of which has been allocated to the HSE and a further €30m to the National Treatment Purchase Fund. This will be used to fund additional capacity to address the shortfall arising as a result of measures taken in the context of COVID-19, as well as to address waiting lists.

  The latest waiting list figures provided to my Department by the NTPF show that there are currently 154 patients waiting for bariatric surgery/procedure. The bariatric IPDC waiting list is outlined in the attached document. Due to the small volume of patients waiting, Statistical Disclosure Control (SDC) measures have bee applied, and in order to preserve patient confidentiality the data has been provided by Hospital group rather than by region.

Table

Disability Services Funding

 1627. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if there are financial supports for the service providers directly or for the adults with disabilities that attend day services or that live in residential homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18495/21]

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.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) funds service providers to deliver day and residential services to people with disabilities via service agreements. These are made primarily with section 38 and section 39 voluntary service providers, and a small number of private for-profit providers.

An additional €100 million was provided in the 2021 Budget for disability services, which sees the budget for specialist disability services exceeding €2.2 billion in 2021.

Of this, an extra €30 million has been provided for day services to increase capacity in buildings and provide extra staff. This will provide an increase in day services by an average of one day a week for 14,940 people against September 2020 service levels.

This additional €100 million also includes provision for increasing capacity within residential services in a planned way, continuing to respond to the need for crisis residential placements and bringing more intensive support packages on stream this year. It will also support people with a disability to move out of congregated settings into residential settings in the community in line with key Programme for Government commitments.

Once-off funding of €20m was made available in 2020 to support voluntary service providers already delivering disability services on behalf of the HSE, under the Strengthening Disability Services Fund. This is funding a range of service improvements including building works, assistive technology and ICT enhancements, and improvements to person-centred services.

In general, financial supports directly to adults with disabilities are a matter for the Department of Employment and Social Protection, under the Disability Allowance payment.

Physiotherapy Services

 1628. Deputy Martin Kenny Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if physiotherapy services will be reinstated in Our Lady's Hospital, Manorhamilton, County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18496/21]

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

Vaccination Programme

 1629. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly further to Parliamentary Question No. 956 of 10 March 2021, if the number of residents that have received their first and second vaccination against Covid-19, respectively will be provided by geographic unit, such as CHO or otherwise in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18497/21]

 1630. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly further to Parliamentary Question No. 956 of 10 March 2021, if he will provide the geographic information on the number of persons that have received their first and second vaccinations against Covid-19 are aggregated to, such as but not limited to, individual sites or vaccination centres, CHO and State-wide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18498/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 1629 and 1630 together.

  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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