Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Martin, Micheál

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 Nbr. 4


Written Answers. - Biological Threats.

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 21 November 2002, the specific measures being taken here in relation to bio-preparedness; and the cost of these measures to the Exchequer.More Button

In the wake of the events of 11 September 2001 in the USA, I established an expert committee under the chairmanship of Professor Bill Hall, director of the Virus Reference Laboratory, to develop a ...More Button

On 17 October 2001, I launched a protocol for dealing with a suspected anthrax attack in Ireland. The protocol was prepared by the expert committee and deals with the procedures to be adopted in t...More Button

A detailed protocol in relation to category A agents, including smallpox, botulism, plague and tularaemia, entitled “Biological Threats – A Health Response for Ireland”, was issued in May 200...More Button

The National Disease Surveillance Centre issued a report entitled “Biological Threat Agents.” This report was aimed at informing all medical staff, particularly general practitioners, in order to ...More Button

Based on the recommendations of the expert committee, I approved the purchase of specific antibiotics and vaccines which would be required in the event of a biological attack with specific class A ...More Button

These products will complement the existing stocks of medical products for the treatment of these diseases. There is a considerable quantity of antibiotics and other therapeutic substances already ...More Button

In the event of a biological threat occurring the expert committee will provide advice on the management of the situation, including the issue of vaccine use, based on the specific circumstances pr...More Button

Written Answers. - Services for People with Disabilities.

Was asked: when it is intended to publish the report of the working group on variable costs of disability payments.More Button

Was asked: if payment on the variable costs of the disability payment scheme can be introduced by July 2003.More Button

Was asked: the position in relation to the working group on variable costs of disability payments.More Button

Was asked: if he will give immediate attention to the cutback in vital services at an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and when learning support services will resume.More Button

Was asked: if a powered wheelchair has been provided by the Western Health Board for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if this person has received it; and if so, when this person received it.More Button

Written Answers. - Disabled Drivers.

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) in County Louth did not receive a primary medical certificate on behalf of his/her child (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Written Answers. - Departmental Properties.

Was asked: if he will identify by location, acreage and other details, the State properties in his Department which are being considered for sale or are available for sale at present.More Button

Under the Health (Amendment) (No. 3 ) Act, 1996, I no longer have a statutory role in the acquisition or disposal of property by health boards. This function is now a reserved function of each heal...More Button

Written Answers. - Victims of Abuse.

Was asked: if the package of measures to assist victims of child abuse announced in May 1999 is continuing to operate; the number of counselling services established under that package which are still operati...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Doctors.

Was asked: when a cardiologist will be appointed at Tralee General Hospital, Tralee, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The provision of services, including the appointment of consultant staff, is a matter for the Southern Health Board in the first instance. My Department has, therefore, asked the chief executive of...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.

Was asked: when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be called for a knee operation to a doctor (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The provision of services for people living in County Kerry is a matter, in the first instance, for the Southern Health Board. My Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to in...More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that, further to Parliamentary Question No. 948 of 9 October 2002, the person in question is on the waiting list for an ear, nose and throat operation on...More Button

Responsibility for the provision of acute hospital services to residents of County Meath rests with the North-Eastern Health Board, NEHB. As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 948 of ...More Button

Written Answers. - Home Help Service.

Was asked: the number of the Western Health Board's home help clients who have had their hours increased since the reassessments started to take place in 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Written Answers. - Maternity Services.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the comments of the Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin (details supplied) that the hospital did not receive the funding required fro...More Button

Responsibility for the provision of services at the National Maternity Hospital rests with the Eastern Regional Health Authority. My Department has therefore, requested the regional chief executive...More Button

Written Answers. - Smoking Prohibition.

Was asked: his proposals for the banning of smoking in pubs when food is being served; if he has carried out a review of the impact this ban will have; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: when he intends to introduce the promised legislation to ban smoking in pubs and restaurants when food is being served; the main features of the proposed regulations; and if he will make a statemen...More Button

Was asked: further to correspondence received from the Licensed Vintners' Association (details supplied), his views on the points raised in the correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 304, 309 and 324 together.More Button

Section 47 of the Public Health (Tobacco) Act, 2002, empowers the Minister for Health and Children to prohibit or restrict the smoking of tobacco products in many public places, including licensed ...More Button

With regard to licensed premises, current regulations only ban smoking in food preparation areas. Many pubs now provide a wide range of food services and there is a growing demand from the public f...More Button

A small number of pubs have introduced dedicated non-smoking areas on a voluntary basis. While this is welcome, I have made it clear to representatives of the licensed trade when meeting with them ...More Button

This is the first time public access areas in pubs are being regulated with regard to providing protection from toxic environmental tobacco smoke. The proposed regulations will provide for a ban on...More Button

The Licensed Vintners' Association has written to me on the issue of smoking in pubs and raised a number of concerns regarding the introduction and enforcement of any new regulations in this area. ...More Button

Written Answers. - General Practitioner Services.

Was asked: if provision has been made in the 2003 Estimates for the development of new general practitioners out of hours co-operatives; the portion of this which will be made to the South-Eastern Health Boar...More Button

The abridged Estimates volume for 2003 includes provision for an increase in spending on general practitioner out of hours co-operatives. I am not yet in a position to indicate how the available fu...More Button

Written Answers. - Health Board Services.

Was asked: the number of occupational therapists employed by each health board area; the number, per capita of population which each therapist covers; if regulation of these services is carried out to ensure ...More Button

The numbers employed in all occupational therapy grades in each health board area as recorded in the annual health service personnel census at 31 December 2001, in wholetime equivalent terms, is se...More Button

The ratio of occupational therapists employed in the public health service per 100,000 of the population is estimated at 13.7 based on the employment levels in 2001 as indicated above and on the Ce...More Button

Responsibility for the provision of occupational therapy services is a matter for each health board through the service planning process. In planning the development of these services, boards must ...More Button

Was asked: the circumstances in which a health board will fund private therapy for a person who has a medical card; if some health boards fund people who avail of private treatment for lymphoesema, including ...More Button

The GMS scheme is a treatment-based scheme which provides a range of services free of charge to medical card holders. In instances where, as part of a prescribed treatment protocol, referral to spe...More Button

Responsibility for determining the eligibility of a medical card holder to a particular course of treatment, in other settings, free of charge, rests with the relevant health board. I have, therefo...More Button

Written Answers. - Radiotherapy Services.

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 547 of 18 June 2002, if there is a definite date when the report of the expert group on the future of radiotherapy services will be presented to him; and if he...More Button

The work of the expert review group on radiotherapy services is nearing completion and the draft final report is currently being edited. I expect that the report will be formally submitted to me ea...More Button

Question No. 309 answered with Question No. 304.More Button

Written Answers. - National Health Strategy.

Was asked: the progress which has been made on the deliverables, as set out in the health strategy for each of the 121 action points set out in "Quality and Fairness, A Health System for You;" the initial tar...More Button

Was asked: the progress which has been made on the deliverables as set out in the health strategy; the initial target date for completion; the new target date for completion should the original not have been ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 311 and 315 together.More Button

Significant progress has been made over the past year in the implementation of the national health strategy. The strategy is a seven to ten year plan and several key actions will take the full ten ...More Button

At the reconvened national consultative forum held on 11 November last, I outlined – with the help of departmental officials and senior health board staff, a detailed inventory of investment ...More Button

I intend to produce a report early next year showing those areas where progress has been made and I will provide a copy of this report to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available. I will also rep...More Button

Written Answers. - Official Language Equality.

Was asked: the additional costs which have arisen from the obligations on his Department in relation to the adoption by the Government in July 2002 of official language equality as one of the three new princi...More Button

In July 2000 the Government adopted official languages equality as one of the three new principles for quality customer service and my Department's forthcoming customer service action plan includes...More Button

A list is being prepared of people who are bilingual and who are willing to provide a service through Irish. Future publications will be made available in both Irish and English. The Department's w...More Button

Written Answers. - Water Quality.

Was asked: if he will make available to all members of the Oireachtas a copy of the international scientific critique of the forum report which was commissioned by Voice; and if he will make a statement on th...More Button

The use of fluoride technology is known to manifest a positive oral health outcome. Local and national surveys and studies conducted since the introduction of fluoridation in this country attest to...More Button

Despite these endorsements, I decided to establish the Forum on Fluoridation to review the fluoridation of public piped water supplies in Ireland. The forum's report was recently launched and its ...More Button

The forum consisted of people with expert knowledge spanning the areas of public health, biochemistry, dental health, bone health, food safety, environmental protection, ethics, water quality, heal...More Button

The forum's report emerged from fourteen plenary meetings, several meetings of sub-groups and oral presentations of material from both proponents and opponents of fluoridation. The forum invited th...More Button

Voice is an organisation that wholly opposes fluoridation and despite several invitations to do so, it is regrettable that its members declined to participate in the impartial work of the forum. Ma...More Button

The report of the Fluoridation Forum made 33 recommendations covering a broad range of topics such as research, public awareness, and policy and technical aspects of fluoridation. Following publica...More Button

Written Answers. - Medicinal Products.

Was asked: the legislation in place to evaluate people practising alternative medicines and the implication on these people who inflate their qualifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

There are currently no statutory regulatory requirements for practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine in Ireland. However, the Deputy will be aware that the provision of any service ...More Button

As a preliminary step in the process of developing a system of registration for complementary and alternative therapists, I convened a forum in June 2001 to examine and explore the practical issues...More Button

The report, which I launched on 14 November, delivers on action 106 of the health strategy – quality and fairness – and makes a number of recommendations on proposals for the way forwar...More Button

At the launch of the report, I announced the establishment of a national working group to progress the agenda set out in the report and to advise me on future measures for the appropriate regulatio...More Button

Question No. 315 answered with Question No. 311.More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the sale by shops and mail order of a pill called camagra which is marketed as a Viagra substitute and contains a pirate version of silderafil; and if the Irish M...More Button

I have been informed by the Irish Medicines Board, which is the competent national authority for the regulation of medicinal products, that the sale of the product concerned from one shop in Dublin...More Button

I am advised that the product concerned does not have a product authorisation in Ireland, and therefore, may not be legally supplied to the public from a non-pharmacy retail outlet and without a pr...More Button

Written Answers. - Nursing Staff.

Was asked: the average time in each health board area before temporary nurses are made permanent; if his attention has been drawn to the financial difficulty this causes to temporary nurses who after a period...More Button

Responsibility for the permanent appointment of temporary nurses rests with the health boards-ERHA. My Department has therefore, requested the information from the chief executive officers and will...More Button

Written Answers. - Tribunals of Inquiry.

Was asked: when he expects the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a decision regarding whether there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to proceed with a prosecution with reference to the report of the...More Button

My officials sent the Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Infection with HIV and Hepatitis C of Persons with Haemophilia and Related Matters to the Director of Prosecutions on 31 October and I u...More Button

Was asked: if the Government supports the establishment of an inquiry into the role of pharmaceutical companies in the contamination of blood products; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Late last year, I appointed Mr. Paul Gardiner, senior counsel, to advise on what steps are open to the State to mount an effective investigation into the actions of the multinational pharmaceutical...More Button

Mr. Gardiner furnished his report to me in March 2002. A copy of Mr. Gardiner's report was furnished to the Irish Haemophilia Society and I have discussed the matter with representatives of the Soc...More Button

I had a further consultation with Mr. Gardiner recently and, notwithstanding the difficulties that have been identified, I believe it would be possible to mount a useful investigation which would a...More Button

Written Answers. - Patient Statistics.

Was asked: the number of children aged between one and 15 who were diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in each year from 1995 to 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As ulcerative colitis is not a notifiable disease, comprehensive information on the number of people diagnosed with the condition is not available. For those with the condition who require hospita...More Button

The following table provides the number of hospitalisations of children aged one to 15 years due to ulcerative colitis for 1995 to 2000. If patients are admitted more than once in a given year, eac...More Button

Source: Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) system.More Button

Written Answers. - Industrial Relations.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the IMO has officially directed public health doctors and medical professionals not to participate in a meeting being arranged by a sub-group dealin...More Button

Was asked: if it is the intention of his Department and the health boards to enter into discussions with the IMO on the implementation of the Brennan review into pay and conditions of public health doctors; a...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 320 and 321 together.More Button

The IMO communicated to my Department its intentions to direct public health doctors not to participate in the meeting held on 2 December on the threat of bio-terrorism. I regret the IMO took this ...More Button

The public health review group was established to examine the pay, conditions and structures of the public health function. A report was issued in April 2002 by the chairman of the group, Mr. Decla...More Button

As indicated in this report, further clarification of certain issues was required, most notably the proposed establishment of Departments of population health, as outlined in the health strategy. ...More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the potentially serious industrial relations situation that has developed within St. Mary's Hospital, Phoenix Park; the Meath Hospital and Bellevilla Nursing Home...More Button

Responsibility for the issues raised by the Deputy rests, in the first instance, with the Eastern Regional Health Authority.More Button

Health agencies, as is the case for all employers, have legal responsibility for the maintenance of a safe workplace environment. Arrangements for dealing with potentially hazardous materials are o...More Button

My Department has therefore requested the chief executive officer of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to investigate the issues raised by the Deputy and reply to her directly.More Button

Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.

Was asked: if a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will be called for orthodontic treatment in Sligo General Hospital; if an official from his Department will make contact with the parents of this pers...More Button

As the responsibility for the provision of orthodontic services in this case lies with the North-Western Health Board, the chief executive officer of the board has been requested to investigate the...More Button

Written Answers. - Loss of Blood Samples.

Was asked: if he will hold an independent inquiry into loss of blood and other samples which belong to persons (details supplied) in County Limerick as discussed in the Adjournment debate in Dáil &Eacu...More Button

Due to concerns raised by the family in question, the chief executive officer of the Mid-Western Health Board set up an internal inquiry into the issue of these missing blood samples. The report of...More Button

At a meeting in November 2001, an undertaking was given to the family concerned, who live in the Askeaton area, to have an independent examination of cancer data relating to the locality. At my Dep...More Button

Question No. 324 answered with Question No. 304.More Button

Written Answers. - Registration of Medical Practitioners.

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself that satisfactory regulation is in place to ensure that medical practitioners who have been struck off or barred from practice in other EU countries cannot establish pra...More Button

Under the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978, the Medical Council is the body statutorily charged with the registration of medical practitioners. In order to ensure patient care and safety it is neces...More Button

Persons wishing to practise as a registered medical practitioner in this country must apply to the Medical Council supplying relevant documentation upon which they are relying in making their appli...More Button

The Medical Council has also advised me that there are registered medical practitioners whose names are entered in the General Register of Medical Practitioners maintained by the council but whose ...More Button

The Lynott report, which I commissioned and published earlier this year, makes a number of recommendations to improve procedures for verifying the registration status of doctors who have previously...More Button

Preparation of heads of Bill for a new Medical Practitioners Act is well advanced and the current statutory provisions in relation to the registration of medical practitioners are being carefully e...More Button

In addition, ensuring patient safety and consumer protection are key elements which must be addressed during the current negotiations on the proposed new European Council directive on the recogniti...More Button

All of these measures maximise the protection of the consumer through agreed verification and regulatory procedures governing medical practitioners, and I am satisfied that appropriate steps are b...More Button

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Was asked: the value of domiciliary care allowance and mobility allowance; and the comparator among social welfare payments which is used to determine the annual percentage increase in this payment.More Button

Was asked: the reason a training allowance is payable to persons in the Eastern Regional Health Authority with an intellectual disability who are undertaking training but is not payable to persons attending t...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospitals Building Programme.

Was asked: the expenditure by his Department on capital works for phase 2B of Mullingar General Hospital in 2002; the projected expenditure on this project in each of the next three years; the additional hosp...More Button

Approval for the appointment of a design team for the preparation of a development control plan for the whole hospital development was granted in August 2001. As the approval increased the scope of...More Button

Funding of €600,000 has been approved to progress the preparation of the development control plan in 2002. To date, funding has not been drawn down by the Midland Health Board from my Departme...More Button

The additional hospital facilities to be provided in this phase 2B project are included in new accommodation, upgraded or refurbished accommodation and completion of shelled out phase 2A accommodat...More Button

The phase 2B development will include the following: general medical beds; general surgical beds; day surgery department; day service-other non-surgical; operating department; pathology department;...More Button

Most of the additional beds at the hospital would be provided in the existing shelled out accommodation. The Midland Health Board has advised, that while the design process is at an early stage, co...More Button

The projected expenditure for 2003 is €1 million approximately. Projected expenditure for the following two years is dependant on design solutions proposed by the design team in the developmen...More Button

Written Answers. - Child Care Services.

Was asked: the number of private companies employed by the SWAHB to provide child care facilities for the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the way in which the private companies providing child care for the SWAHB are regulated; the staff's minimum qualifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the cost of using a private company to provide child care by the SWAHB; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the complaints procedure in place for families of children in the care of private companies on behalf of the SWAHB; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Written Answers. - Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Was asked: if he will include schizophrenia in the long-term illness book; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Persons suffering from any of the following conditions who are not already medical card holders may obtain without charge drugs and medicines for the treatment of that condition under the long-term...More Button

People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. Eligibility for a medical card is sol...More Button

Non-medical card holders, and people with conditions not covered under the long-term illness scheme, can use the drugs payment scheme. Under this scheme, no individual or family unit pays more tha...More Button

Written Answers. - Children in Care.

Was asked: the number of applications for funding his Department has received from the 11 health boards in regard to the provision of residential or respite care for children or teenagers with mental disturba...More Button

Was asked: his Department's decision on a recent decision by a private company caring for children for the SWAHB to bring criminal charges against children who used drugs while in the company's care; and if h...More Button

Was asked: the number of children in the care of the SWAHB; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button