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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 144-163
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Product Labelling
 Header Item Hospital Facilities
 Header Item Speech and Language Therapy
 Header Item Dental Services
 Header Item Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
 Header Item Medicinal Products
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Health Services Reports
 Header Item Healthcare Policy
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes
 Header Item Harbour Fees

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1006 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 144-163

Covid-19 Pandemic

 144. 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 European Working Time Directive figures reported by the HSE are accurate and represent the experience of non-consultant hospital doctors working on the frontline during Covid-19. [22518/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly Figures for EWTD compliance with the maximum 48 hour working week and with a maximum 24-hour shift improved significantly in the years following the LRC Agreement with the IMO in 2013.  The figures have remained consistently high for the past year notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19 and the pressures encountered by our healthcare system in continuing service provision in the challenging circumstances brought about by pandemic. Aggregated data for January 2021 shows  87% compliance with the average working week of 48 hours (averaged over the roster period) and 98% compliance with the maximum 24 hour shift agreed with the IMO.

It is acknowledged that COVID has created difficulties in relation to extended working hours for NCHDs and other staff from time to time and that particular individual experiences would not be reflected in the national returns circulated by the HSE to stakeholders, including the Department. However, these returns include data in respect of each NCHD cohort, Interns, SHO's, Registrars and Senior/Specialist Registrars and for each acute hospital. Particular sites that have lesser levels of compliance can be identified and corrective action taken. It is also noted that the HSE has continued to increase the NCHD workforce over the past 12 months and this supports compliance. Between end March 2020 and end March 2020 overall numbers increased significantly from 6,757 to 7,444 (wte's). Within this figure Intern numbers increased from 724 to 967 as part of the response to the pandemic. Higher Intern numbers are now to be recruited on an ongoing basis to support future workforce planning requirements. This should impact positively on the working hours of all Interns.

Vaccination Programme

 145. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his attention has been drawn to the long waits being experienced at mass vaccination centres; the steps he is taking to combat these waits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22519/21]

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 Appointments Status

 146. 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. [22520/21]

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.

Elective hospital care was curtailed for the first quarter of 2021, in line with the rapid increase in Covid -19 hospital admissions, with only critical time dependent elective procedures undertaken.

On 23 March the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”. This plan outlines a three phased approach 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.

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.

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

 147. 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 persons working in the Covid-19 testing centres as volunteers or paid workers have access to high quality face masks of a similar grade to that used in a clinical setting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22522/21]

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.

Product Labelling

 148. 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. 233 of 2 February 2021, the progress that has been made further to finalisation of the revised language scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22523/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly My Department is currently finalising its revised language scheme and it is expected that the scheme will be approved by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media by the end of June 2021.

  Question No. 149 answered with Question No. 102.

Hospital Facilities

 150. Deputy Verona Murphy Information on Verona Murphy Zoom on Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the timeframe for the installation of a public MRI facility at Wexford General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22525/21]

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

Speech and Language Therapy

 151. Deputy Verona Murphy Information on Verona Murphy Zoom on Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of persons under 18 years of age waiting for speech and language therapy in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22526/21]

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.

Dental Services

 152. Deputy Verona Murphy Information on Verona Murphy Zoom on Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the current wait list for persons under 18 years of age awaiting orthodontal treatment in County Wexford; the breakdown of the number of persons waiting 24, 36 and 48 months and longer, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22527/21]

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.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

 153. Deputy Verona Murphy Information on Verona Murphy Zoom on Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of children on the waiting list for child psychologist services in CAMHS in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22528/21]

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.

Medicinal Products

 154. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his views on media reports in relation to the adverse effects of epilim on some women; if he will meet with the women and their representatives; if he will publish the HSE valproate response project report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22529/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I am fully aware of the issues surrounding sodium valproate (Epilim) and its potential effects on children whose mothers may have taken this drug during pregnancy. I met with two patient representative groups to discuss these issues in November 2020. A decision to publish the HSE's Valproate Response Project report is a matter for the HSE; however, I understand that the report has been made available to the patient groups and other interested stakeholders.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 155. 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 if he will report on the rise in the number of persons visiting seaside resorts in County Clare; his plans to deter those traveling from outside their county during times of restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22530/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly Ireland remains in Level 5 of the ‘Framework for Restrictive Measures in Response to COVID-19’ and due to the high level of disease and continuing risks associated with COVID-19, population wide measures remain in place.

  The regulations providing for these measures are S.I. No. 168 of 2021 Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) Regulations, 2021 (as amended).

  S.I. No. 168 of 2021 provides that you can travel within your own county or within 20km of your home if crossing county boundaries and that you cannot travel beyond these distances without a reasonable excuse.  

  Further information on the current domestic travel restrictions is available online here - https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/#travel-restrictions

Statutory Instruments related to the Covid pandemic are available here - https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/1f150-view-statutory-instruments-related-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Hospital Waiting Lists

 156. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if additional capacity will be provided without further delay at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Cappagh in view of delays in persons being assessed and having orthopaedic procedures carried out; if his attention has been drawn to the long waiting times for paediatric orthopaedics resulting in children not receiving interventions in a timely manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22551/21]

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.

Elective hospital care was curtailed for the first quarter of 2021, in line with the rapid increase in Covid-19 hospital admissions, with only critical time dependent elective procedures undertaken.

On 23 March the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”. This plan outlines a three phased approach 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.

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 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 access to care, €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. 

Since January 2021, the NTPF has been working closely with public hospitals to arrange treatment for clinically suitable long-waiting patients on hospital outpatient and inpatient/day case waiting lists. Year to date at the end of March 2021, the NTPF had arranged 6,951 Outpatient appointments, of which 1,971 were Orthopaedic appointments. During the same period, 5,877 patients on the Inpatient/Day Case waiting lists had accepted offers of treatment funded by the NTPF, of which 1,221 were for Orthopaedic procedures. 

More specifically, the NTPF has advised that 587 Orthopaedic Inpatient /Day Case procedures have been approved at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Cappagh through NTPF insourcing initiatives. 

In terms of paediatric waiting times, in recent years there has been an increased investment in paediatric orthopaedics and scoliosis services, which has improved access to surgery and outpatient appointments. In 2018 Children’s Health Ireland (CHI; previously the Children’s Hospital Group) was provided with an additional €9 million in funding to address paediatric orthopaedic waiting lists, including the provision of scoliosis services. Scoliosis activity accounts for 20% of overall orthopaedic activity across CHI.  

This funding supported the recruitment of approximately 60 WTE in 2018 and 2019 to enable the expansion of paediatric orthopaedic services including scoliosis services. The posts relate to the multi-disciplinary team at diagnosis, pre-assessment, during surgery in theatre, and post-operatively. The majority of posts were allocated to each hospital in 2018. 

A number of clinically suitable patients from Children’s Health Ireland currently undergo orthopaedic procedures at the National Orthopaedic Hospital Cappagh and Children’s Health Ireland and the HSE are exploring initiatives to treat additional paediatric orthopaedic patients at Cappagh Hospital. 

With regard to the particular query raised in relation to additional capacity at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Cappagh, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible. 

Hospital Waiting Lists

 157. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if additional capacity will be provided to reduce waiting lists for treatment (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22552/21]

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.

  Elective hospital care was curtailed for the first quarter of 2021, in line with the rapid increase in Covid-19 hospital admissions, with only critical time dependent elective procedures undertaken.

  On 23 March the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”. This plan outlines a three phased approach 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.

  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 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  access to care, €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. 

  With regard to the particular query raised by the Deputy, the NTPF has provide the attached tables showing the breakdown of patients on the Outpatient and Inpatient/Day Case Waiting Lists by area of residence for Cavan and Monaghan as at 25 March 2021. 

  The NTPF has further advised that year to date, 250 Orthopaedic Outpatient appointments have been approved at Cavan General Hospital though NTPF funded insourcing initiatives.

  Waiting Lists

Health Services Reports

 158. Deputy Gary Gannon Information on Gary Gannon Zoom on Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly further to Parliamentary Question No. 228 of 25 March 2021, when the disability social care demand and capacity requirements up to 2032 will be published and available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22555/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte In line with Sláintecare  vision it is essential, that over the next number of years, the State moves to a population-based planning approach, based on demographic and geographic considerations, that reflects both the health and social care needs of those within our population, including those who require specialist disability services. This approach provides an opportunity to prioritise and design the health and social care services that need to be developed for each region, so the population can get the right care, in the right place, at the right time in line with HIQA standards and available resources.

The Disability Social Care Demand and Capacity Requirements up to 2032 is a Slaintecare Action Plan deliverable. The Report is currently being finalised.

Healthcare Policy

 159. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the status of the cross-border directive and Northern Ireland planned healthcare scheme beyond 2021 for the Defence Forces. [22559/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly Since 1 January 2021, the provisions of the EU Cross Border Directive (CBD) no longer apply to the UK. On the 28th December 2020 the Government approved the implementation of a new Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme. The new Scheme operational since 1 January 2021 will enable persons resident in the State to access and be reimbursed for private healthcare in Northern Ireland by the HSE, provided such healthcare is publicly available within Ireland. It is intended that the scheme will operate for 12 months on an administrative basis initially, with a view to developing a general scheme to provide a statutory basis for the scheme.

Vaccination Programme

 160. 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 when frontline staff at a facility (details supplied) will receive their vaccine given they are an outlier in not receiving the vaccine by comparison to their peers in similar facilities. [22573/21]

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.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

 161. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he will increase the rate of payment under TAMS to reflect the increasing construction costs particularly of materials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22398/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue There are a wide variety of items available under the suite of seven measures under TAMS II.  To date, total expenditure under the seven measures of the TAMS, including transitional expenditure, has reached in excess of  €281m with commitments of an additional €130m made to scheme participants who have yet to draw down those commitments.

The rate of grant aid is set at 40% except in the case of qualified young farmers where the rate of grant aid available to such farmers is increased to 60%. As regards the costings of individual items available under TAMS, these costings are currently being reviewed. Any changes identified to the costings will be considered once this review process has been completed.

Agriculture Schemes

 162. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he will address an issue (details supplied) regarding the new farm pilot schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22401/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Results Based Environment Agri Pilot (REAP) Project is designed to test the results-based approach on a variety of farm types. The project will feed into the development of the next national agri-environment scheme to follow on from GLAS. Similar to the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) projects, REAP is designed to focus on key learning objectives.

With the aim of broadening farmer participation in agri-environment schemes, REAP is being offered to farmers who have not been approved into GLAS, Organics and certain EIP projects, including the Hen Harrier Project. Eligibility requirements are scheme/project specific. The conditions and eligibility requirements of other projects, including those to apply for the next national agri-environment scheme in the post 2023 period are completely separate.

As the Deputy is aware, the five-year Hen Harrier EIP is in operation to compensate farmers for maintaining their lands in a manner to protect the breeding of Hen Harriers. The Hen Harrier action is also being undertaken by 2,607 farmers in GLAS including those in Tranches 1 and 2 of the scheme who have opted to extend their GLAS contracts for an additional year to the end of 2021.

Harbour Fees

 163. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if a payment plan will be accepted in respect of outstanding harbour charges from a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22440/21]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue My Department owns, manages and maintains the six State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres, located at Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs and Ros An Mhíl.

Charges for the use of the facilities at each of the six Fishery Harbour Centres are set out in secondary legislation by means of the Fishery Harbour Centres (Rates and Charges) Order 2012 (S.I. No. 214 of 2012) which came into effect on the 1st July 2012. Income from these charges, rental income and other miscellaneous fees and charges pay for the day to day operational costs of the Fishery Harbour Centres.

This case is the subject of legal proceedings. That said, the Department would be prepared to consider a proposal for clearing the arrears via a payment plan over a realistic timeframe. Any such proposal should be submitted through legal channels to the Department's solicitor.


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