Employment Rights

Questions (645)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

645. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs following the recently published Migrant Rights Centre Ireland Report December 2012 Part of the Family, which illustrates the way the unregulated au pair system is being used to facilitate cheap child care and that leaves au pairs without basic protections, her plans to address the issue of au pairs here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8224/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The issues raised by the Deputy relate in the main to the employment rights of au pairs. This represents a private contractual arrangement between an employer and an employee and, as such, is not for my Department. It is, therefore, more appropriate to have the matter considered by my colleague the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Child Care Services Provision

Questions (646)

Alan Farrell

Question:

646. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of parents who have availed of the community child care subvention programme in 2012; the cost of this service to the Exchequer in 2012 and the estimated cost in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8430/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme provides funding to community child care not-for-profit services to enable them to charge reduced child care rates to parents in receipt of social welfare payments or on low to middle incomes. Community child care services qualify for grant aid on the basis of the level of service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service.

For the purpose of the CCS programme, eligibility is determined by reference to a range of means-tested allowances and payments including receipt of a social welfare payment, Family Income Supplement (FIS) and qualification for a medical or GP visit card. Eligibility for a GP visit card is based on net income and takes account of outgoings such as rent and mortgage repayments and other expenses including child care costs and travelling expenses. As a result, low and middle income working parents may qualify for support. Parents who qualify for the top rate of subvention under the programme receive a subsidy of €95 per week towards full-day child care costs.

Approximately 19,000 families availed of subvention under the CCS programme in the September 2011-August 2012 period. The total number of children availing of the service in this period was approximately 26,300 and the cost of providing this service was some €58 million.

Approximately 19,500 families are availing of the CCS programme in the current school year at an estimated cost of €50 million. It is expected that in the region of 26,000 children will again benefit but these figures can only be finalised when an appeals process, provided for under the programme, is completed.

National Lottery Funding Applications

Questions (647)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

647. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding an application for a grant in respect of an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8719/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

There is no record of any current application for National Lottery funding with my Department from the organisation concerned. However, it will be open to the organisation to apply for funding under the 2013 National Lottery allocation made available to my Department and details of the funding scheme, including the related application form, will be available shortly on my Department's website www.dcya.gov.ie.

Departmental Funding

Questions (648)

Seán Kyne

Question:

648. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when a funding programme will be finalised and ready to accept applications from youth organisations such as youth cafes. [8986/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth sector.

Funding of €53.173m has been provided to my Department for the provision of youth services in 2013. Within this total funding, €1.75m has been provided in a new capital funding programme for 2013. This will include €1.5m for youth cafés and youth projects and €250,000 for play and recreation initiatives in 2013. Criteria for the schemes are being developed at present and my Department will be announcing details regarding the application process for 2013 shortly.

Hospital Staff

Questions (649, 663, 672, 674, 675, 685, 687, 688, 697, 702, 721, 724, 727, 728, 729, 733, 734, 742)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

649. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the shortage of intern places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8098/13]

View answer

Tom Fleming

Question:

663. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will address the current deficit of intern places to medical graduates as the State's investment in undergraduate medical education will be squandered due to these graduates being unable to obtain an intern position; if he will take into consideration information (details supplied) and the fact that completing the intern year is a legal requirement in order for graduates of Irish medical schools to practise here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8094/13]

View answer

Eamonn Maloney

Question:

672. Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Health the measures he is taking to address the anticipated shortage of intern places for both EU and non-EU graduates of Irish medical schools this summer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8177/13]

View answer

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

674. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, in place to deal with the shortage of intern places for both EU and non-EU graduates of Irish medical schools, arising as a consequence of the increased number of medical school graduates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8180/13]

View answer

Derek Nolan

Question:

675. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Health if due to an increase in the number of medical school graduates this year there will be a shortage of intern places for both EU and non EU graduates of Irish medical schools; the plans in place to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8181/13]

View answer

John Paul Phelan

Question:

685. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Health the measures he will put in place to ensure that the current deficit of intern places for medical graduates which has come about as a result of the State's funding of additional medical school places, without the corresponding increase in intern places, will not lead to medical graduates having to leave the country to fully qualify; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8222/13]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

687. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he has any concerns that there may not be sufficient intern places for both EU and non-EU graduates of Irish medical schools later this year; if there are any plans in place to deal with the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8250/13]

View answer

Michael Creed

Question:

688. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is due to be a shortage of intern places available to both EU and non-EU graduates of medical schools here as of July 2013, as identified in the second interim report of the reform of the interim year, and the policy his Department intends to pursue in order to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8251/13]

View answer

Dan Neville

Question:

697. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding intern places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8330/13]

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Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

702. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that due to the increased number of medical school graduates this year it is anticipated that there will be a shortage of intern places for the graduating classes and that completing the internship is a legal requirement to practise medicine; and if his Department is putting in place the necessary structures to ensure that all qualifying students are facilitated with an internship year. [8335/13]

View answer

Willie O'Dea

Question:

721. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health his plans to deal with the anticipated shortage of intern places in July 2013 for both EU and non-EU graduates of medical schools here, resulting from the investment of State funding for additional medical school places without the corresponding increase in intern places; if his attention has been drawn to the legal requirement for graduates to complete the intern year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8588/13]

View answer

Seamus Healy

Question:

724. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure there will be sufficient medical intern places for graduates of medical schools here available in hospitals from July 2013 as recommended in various reports including the Fottrell Report 2006, the NCMET report and the second interim report on the implementation of the reform of the intern year, April 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8628/13]

View answer

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

727. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health the concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding medical internships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8672/13]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

728. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health in view of the fact that from this year there will not be enough intern places in Ireland for Irish medical students and other people who train here to complete their mandatory intern year, the action he proposes to take to rectify the situation especially in view of the fact that the intern year is a legal requirement in order for graduates of Irish medical schools to practise here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8685/13]

View answer

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

729. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health the plans in place to deal with the expected shortage of medical intern places to match the number of EU and non EU graduates of Irish medical schools in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8694/13]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

733. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that due to the increased number of medical school graduates this year it is anticipated that in July 2013 there will be a shortage of intern places for both EU and non-EU graduates of Irish medical schools; and the action he will take regarding same. [8743/13]

View answer

Timmy Dooley

Question:

734. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health the plans in place to provide intern places for all graduates of Irish medical schools in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8760/13]

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Jim Daly

Question:

742. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Health his plans to deal with the current deficit of intern places to medical graduates (details supplied) within the Health Service Executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8825/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 649, 663, 672, 674, 675, 685, 687, 688, 697, 702, 721, 724, 727 to 729, inclusive, 733, 734 and 742 together.

The issue of an adequate number of intern places in the Irish medical system is a priority for my Department and for the HSE. The HSE established an Intern Implementation Group in 2009 to implement aspects of the Report of the NCMET on the Intern Year and I am aware that this Group has issued two Implementation Reports, most recently in April 2012 (Second Interim Report). The intern year is an integral part of medical training, and a medical practitioner cannot be fully accredited without it. There were 572 posts available in Ireland for the July 2012 intern intake, an increase of almost 70 posts since 2007. To date, there have been sufficient posts for all EU graduates from Irish medical schools, and a number of available posts for some non-EU applicants.

My Department has been in regular contact with the HSE in relation to the issue of intern places, with the aim, in so far as is possible, of providing a sufficient number of intern places for Irish/EU graduates from Irish medical schools. In addition, under EU law, intern posts must be open to graduates from other EU countries and the HSE has no control over the numbers applying.

The application process for internships closed in November last, but the HSE will not know the final number of eligible applicants for some time. The final numbers that will proceed to the first round match have not yet been determined, as the overseas candidates must pass the entrance test, meet the HSE English language requirements, provide a Basic Life Support (BLS) certificate, and pass their final year medical exams. Candidates applying from within Ireland must provide a BLS certificate and pass their final year medical exams.

This year the HSE will have approximately 80 additional posts available for interns commencing their training in July. In total, therefore, there will be in the region of 650 places available for 2013, and the HSE is confident that there will be sufficient capacity and funding to ensure that every EU graduate of the six Irish medical schools can access an internship.

Local Drugs Task Forces Review Report

Questions (650)

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

650. Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Health the outcome and results of the review of local drugs task forces; the details of any changes to their funding which is being considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8219/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

On 18 December 2012, I announced details of a series of measures arising from a review of Drugs Task Forces and the structures of the National Drugs Strategy. The reforms are intended to better equip the Task Forces to respond to the current pattern of substance misuse.

The key changes include:

- The role of Drugs Task Forces to be extended to include alcohol addiction;

- A National Coordinating Committee to be established to guide the work of the Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and drive implementation of the National Drugs Strategy;

- Measures to encourage more Public Representative involvement in the work of Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and

- Review of the number and boundaries of Drugs Task Forces, mainly in Dublin.

In excess of €28m will be made available to Drugs Task Forces from the Drugs Initiative Fund in 2013 to support community based drugs initiatives. I intend to bring forward further measures to improve management, oversight and control of this expenditure. I also plan to consult with the Drugs Task Forces on my proposals in relation to boundary changes.

Blind Person's Pension Applications

Questions (651)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

651. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Health if he will review an application for blind welfare allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12. [8528/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

National Substance Misuse Strategy

Questions (652)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

652. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health the concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding Festival sponsorship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8673/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I wish to inform the Deputy that real and tangible proposals are currently being finalised on foot of the recommendations in the National Substance Misuse Strategy report. These proposals cover all of the areas mentioned in the report, including legislation on minimum unit pricing; labelling of alcohol products; and prevention and intervention activities on alcohol. My Department is also working closely with other Departments and I wish to assure the Deputy that concerns such as those expressed in the correspondence are being considered.

The Cabinet Committee on Social Policy has considered the aforementioned proposals and I intend to bring forward specific proposals for consideration by Government as soon as possible.

Misuse of Drugs

Questions (653)

David Stanton

Question:

653. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health if he is concerned about the abuse of prescription drugs by drug users; if his attention has been drawn to the types of prescription drugs commonly abused in this way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8822/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The problem of the misuse of prescription drugs has been recognised at national, European and international levels. Through the framework of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016, the Department of Health is working in collaboration with the relevant statutory agencies to monitor the availability of controlled drugs, including prescription medicines, through illicit channels.

The enforcement of the law relating to the sale of drugs, including prescription drugs, continues to be a priority in the Government’s commitment to tackling the issue of drug misuse in this jurisdiction.

Under the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations, it is prohibited for a person to supply a prescription medicine except in accordance with a prescription, and the supply must be made from a registered pharmacy by or under the personal supervision of a registered pharmacist. A person who contravenes these Regulations is guilty of an offence.

Furthermore, a person who has in his possession a prescription medicine containing a substance controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying it, is guilty of an offence under that legislation.

As a result of consultations with key stakeholders, draft Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations are currently being prepared. These will be published on the Department’s website shortly and comments will be invited to be made in the subsequent two-week period.

Following this, it will be necessary to seek Government approval to notify the proposed regulations to the EU Commission and other Member States under the Technical Standards Directives because of the implications of the proposed regulatory changes on trade in pharmaceutical products.

Subject to successful completion of the EU notification period, which may take up to 3 months, it is anticipated that the new regulations will be introduced in mid-2013.

Hospital Staff

Questions (654)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

654. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health if there are any changes proposed to the working time directive as it applies to non-consultant hospital doctors who are in training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8050/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

While the Commission and the social partners have given consideration to the operation of the European Working Time Directive, including the Court of Justice's rulings that all time spent 'on-call on site' counts as working time for non-consultant hospital doctors and other categories of staff who may be required to deliver services on a 24/7 basis, no changes are envisaged at present. Furthermore, the Commission has noted in working papers that the possibility of any future changes does not mean it will not pursue compliance with present EU law where necessary.

The Government is committed to achieving compliance with the Directive in respect of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) by 2014. I have emphasised to the Health Service Executive the high priority the Government and I attach to this issue.

In January 2012, a detailed plan for the achievement of compliance by NCHDs with the Working Time Directive was submitted to the EU Commission. The plan affirmed Ireland's commitment to achieving compliance with the Directive over a three-year time period. It committed to implementing the measures necessary, including new work patterns for medical staff, transfer of work undertaken by NCHDs to other grades and the organisation of hospital services to support compliance.

The HSE National Service Plan 2013 states that there will be a particular focus in the acute hospital service on the achievement of compliance with the European Working Time Directive amongst the non-consultant hospital doctor workforce. The Executive is currently finalising its National Operational Plan to support the implementation of the National Service Plan. This will specify in greater detail the actions to be taken in relation to EWTD compliance. The HSE was asked by my Department in January to ensure that clear responsibility is placed with a hospital CEO and a senior manager and/or clinical lead for the achievement of specified improvements in compliance, such that the end 2014 target will be met.

Mental Health Services Funding

Questions (655)

Robert Troy

Question:

655. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the position regarding the 2012, €35 million ring fenced allocation for community mental health; the amount spent in community mental health during 2012; the number of the promised professionals who have been hired to date; provide a clear commitment that any unspent moneys will be spent together with the 2013 €35 million allocation this year; his plans for this year and a time frame for implementation of same. [8066/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In 2012, a special allocation of €35m was provided for mental health to be used primarily to further strengthen Community Mental Health Teams in both adult and children’s mental health services, to advance activities in the area of suicide prevention, to initiate the provision of psychological and counselling services in primary care, specifically for people with mental health problems and to facilitate the re-location of mental health service users from institutional care to more independent living arrangements in their communities, in line with A Vision for Change.

414 posts were approved to implement the €35m package of special measures. As at 30th January 2013, 204 posts have been filled (i.e. an employment contract has issued and is signed with a start date agreed) and the remainder are at various stages of selection. The majority of these posts are expected to be filled by end March 2013. Full year costs for all these posts will be met from HSE 2013 base allocation.

Budgetary pressures within the HSE delayed the full utilisation of this funding, but this sum is now available to mental health services along with an additional €35m allocated in Budget 2013 for the continued development of our mental health services. The HSE National Service Plan 2013 commits to a number of objectives including the further development of forensics and community mental health teams for adults, children, older persons and mental health intellectual disability and to the recruitment of 477 additional staff to implement these measures.

In order to ensure that the additional resources will be used to best effect, discussions are ongoing within the HSE, and in consultation with the Department of Health, to finalise the allocation of these resources. Each HSE Region is being asked to submit a business case against each of the identified objectives detailing how the funding is to be spent and the type and number of WTE to be recruited. It is expected that this process will be concluded by end March 2013. I have been assured by the HSE that the recruitment process for the new posts being funded in 2013 and any outstanding posts from the 414 approved in 2012 is being given priority within the HSE.

Home Care Packages

Questions (656)

Finian McGrath

Question:

656. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a long term home care package in respect of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8072/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Questions (657)

Finian McGrath

Question:

657. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a long term care plan in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [8073/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter this question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (658)

Tom Fleming

Question:

658. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will issue a discretionary medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8075/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Suicide Incidence

Questions (659)

Finian McGrath

Question:

659. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on the rates of suicide amongst the Traveller community and the support available for families in the Traveller community who are affected by suicide. [8076/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Suicide is a tragedy that we are constantly working to prevent and also working to give more support to the families affected. Dealing with the current high levels of suicide and deliberate self harm is a priority for this Government. Reach Out the National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention makes a number of recommendations in relation to fast track referrals to community-based mental health services, effective response to deliberate self harm, training, stigma reduction, etc. Consequently, the HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) has developed a range of initiatives to support people who are suicidal and also supporting their families, friends and peers in recognising and responding appropriately to signs of emotional distress and suicidal thoughts. Area 15 of Reach Out deals with marginalised groups including Travellers.

Suicide within the Traveller community was shown to be a major problem by the findings of the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study which was published in 2010. This study determined that in 2007 the suicide rate among male Travellers was 6.6 times that of the general population while for female Travellers it was shown to be 4.9 times higher than the general population.

There has been a significant amount of work done with Traveller groups, providing information, conducting training and developing resources. The National Traveller Suicide Awareness Project (NTSAP) is a collaboration of Traveller organisations, the National Office for Suicide Prevention and Exchange House. This project is funded by the National Office for Suicide Prevention and has been in operation since 2007 to respond to the issue of Traveller suicide. The project works directly with approx. 500 Travellers per year and indirectly to others through networking at national, regional and local events, and also provides preventative and post suicide supports. The aim is to develop and implement a community development approach to addressing the issue of suicide in the Traveller community by; acting as a resource both to Traveller organisations and suicide related services in terms of raising their awareness on the issue of suicide in the Traveller community; promoting the development of initiatives to support suicide prevention, intervention and interventions after suicide situations, in a co-ordinated manner and, in so doing, to reduce the number of attempted and completed suicides in the Traveller community.

The project aims to reduce the number of Traveller suicides over the next 10 years through the following actions:

- Collate up to date data on Travellers who die by suicide and the services available to Travellers and their uptake;

- Develop prevention, intervention and interventions after suicide initiatives with Travellers using a community development approach and based on the data collated and the experience of the project to date;

- Effect positive policy and social change in the area of Traveller suicide;

- Carry out NTSAPs planned work in a timely, efficient and effective manner.

Traveller men who have in the past been reluctant to engage with services and two male project workers were recruited in September 2011 with the role of working with Traveller men nationally to focus on engaging Traveller men as well as providing ongoing support to groups in developing appropriate responses to address the identified needs. In addition bereavement support and the development of more meaningful relationships with mental health services have been addressed. Overall 14 men’s groups received funding in 2012. Networking and awareness raising were carried out and Traveller men did engage with the services.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Eligibility

Questions (660)

Finian McGrath

Question:

660. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the reason the elderly and those who are ill in the Traveller community have been targeted disproportionately financially than any other category of citizens in the nursing home support scheme. [8077/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is a system of financial support for people who require long-term nursing home care. Under the Scheme, nursing home resident's contribute towards the cost of their care based on their means, and the HSE pays the balance. The financial assessment under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme is the same irrespective of a person's age or whether they are a member of any particular community.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Eligibility

Questions (661)

Finian McGrath

Question:

661. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will clarify the situation regarding rental income and sale of property in relation to the nursing homes support scheme fair deal scheme (details supplied). [8078/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme is a system of financial support for individuals in need of long-term nursing home care. Under the Scheme, nursing home residents contribute towards the cost of their nursing home care based on their means, and the HSE pays the balance.

The person's contribution towards the cost of their care is calculated based on 80% of their income (which would include any rental income) and 5% of their assets per annum. If the person is a member of a couple, the assessment is based on half of the couple's combined income and assets. It was announced in Budget 2013 that the asset contribution will be increased from 5% to 7.5% per annum. The legislation underpinning the Scheme must be amended before this change can take effect.

The Scheme contains several important safeguards which ensure that both the person in the nursing home and their spouse/partner, if applicable, are adequately provided for:

Nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care.

1. The first €36,000 for a person's assets, or €72,000 for a couple, is not taken into account during the financial assessment.

2. The principal residence is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of a person's time in care. This three year cap can also apply to family farms/businesses in certain circumstances.

3. Where an individual's assets include land and property in the State, the contribution based on such assets may be deferred and collected from their estate. This is the optional Nursing Home Loan element of the scheme.

4. Individuals keep a personal allowance of 20% of their income, or 20% of the maximum rate of the State Pension (Non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

5. If there is a spouse/partner remaining at home, s/he will retain 50% of the couples income, or the maximum rate of the State Pension (Non-Contributory), whichever is the greater.

6. Certain items of expenditure, called allowable deductions, can be taken into account during the financial assessment. These allowable deductions include health expenses.

7. There is a financial review mechanism which takes account of the fluctuating value of assets and the fact that cash assets will naturally deplete over time as payments are made to the nursing home etc.

If a person avails of the Nursing Home Loan, the money advanced by way of the loan must be repaid as follows:

- If the repayment arises because of the death of the person in care, it must be repaid within 12 months of the date of death. Otherwise interest will apply from the date of death.

- If the repayment arises because the property is sold/transferred during the person in care’s lifetime, it must be repaid within 6 months of the date of the sale/transfer, otherwise interest will apply back to that date.

If a person's principal residence is sold (whether or not they are availing of the Nursing Home Loan), the proceeds of the sale are treated as cash assets and would not be subject to the three year cap. Cash assets are currently taken into account at 5% per annum for as long as the person remains in nursing home care.

The Scheme includes a five year anti-avoidance mechanism, i.e. any income or assets transferred within the five years prior to applying for the scheme are taken into account in the financial assessment. This is necessary in order to ensure that the scheme is fair to all and financially sustainable.

It is not clear from the details supplied who is the applicant in the case referred to by the Deputy. I would, therefore, suggest that the individuals in question contact their local Nursing Homes Support Office which will answer any queries they have about the Scheme. A list of the Nursing Homes Support Offices is available on the HSE's website at: http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/Find_a_Service/Older_People_Services/nhss/nhss.html#offices.

Medical Card Applications

Question No. 663 answered with Question No. 649.

Questions (662)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

662. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health when a decision will issue on an application for a medical card in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8083/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Question No. 663 answered with Question No. 649.

Patient Redress Scheme

Questions (664, 717)

Clare Daly

Question:

664. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if he will meet with the victims of former consultant Michael Neary as a matter of urgency in order to deal with his commitment to resolve their outstanding issues and quest for justice. [8102/13]

View answer

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

717. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health if the review he initiated in his Department on how best to compensates those women victims of the former consultant Michael Neary, who were excluded from the terms of the redress scheme established by the former Government on the grounds of age, has reported to him; the way he intends to proceed; how quickly he will act in view of the fact that the number of women involved continues to reduce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8504/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 664 and 717 together.

A commitment was made in the Programme for Government to seek a mechanism to compensate those women who were excluded on age grounds alone from the Lourdes Hospital Redress Scheme. The Scheme of Redress approved by Government in 2007 was a non-statutory, ex-gratia scheme. Awards were determined by an independent Redress Board in 2007 and 2008. I have in the past met representatives of the women excluded on such grounds from the scheme, and I would envisage further consultation with these women, and/or their representatives, as the matter progresses.

My Department has been engaged in a review to identify the most appropriate mechanism to compensate these women. This review has included taking instructions and legal advice, including advice from the Office of the Attorney General, with a view to bringing proposals to Government for a decision. This process is ongoing, and it is my intention that it will be brought to a satisfactory, legally sound conclusion as quickly as possible.

Ministerial Appointments

Questions (665, 667, 669)

Shane Ross

Question:

665. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Health the details of all appointments made by him to all State agencies, commercial bodies and all other appointments made by him since taking office, including the State owned banks and the Judiciary. [8121/13]

View answer

Shane Ross

Question:

667. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Health the details of the qualifications of all the appointees made by him to all State agencies, commercial bodies and all other appointments made by him since taking office including the State owned banks and the Judiciary for the appointments they have accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8139/13]

View answer

Shane Ross

Question:

669. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Health the number of appointees and the percentage of appointments made by him to all State agencies, commercial bodies and all other appointments made by him since taking office including the State owned banks and the Judiciary that were subject to a public applications process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8157/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 665, 667 and 669 together.

For appointment to a State Board, candidates must have a range of general competencies in order to carry out their role effectively. These would include experience of good corporate governance, a good track record of working with teams or committees, analytical and strategic management capacity, a working understanding of financial planning service planning budgets and financial management. In addition specific competencies or qualifications may be required for each agency. For appointments through the Public Appointments Service a questionnaire is devised to elicit the competencies of prospective candidates. The suitability of applicants is assessed against these criteria and a short-list is compiled from which I may make appointments. Appointments may not necessarily be from one of the applications received through the advertising process.

In relation to Questions Nos. 665 and 669, the additional information requested is currently being collated and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available. I, as Minister for Health, have no involvement in appointments to either State owned banks or the Judiciary.

Medical Card Application Numbers

Question No. 667 answered with Question No. 665.

Questions (666)

Tom Fleming

Question:

666. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health the number of medical card applications received in 2010, 2011 and 2012; the number allowed; the number refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8129/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the Health Service Executive for the information requested by the Deputy. I will revert to the Deputy on the matter as soon as possible.

Question No. 667 answered with Question No. 665.

Home Care Packages

Questions (668)

Tom Fleming

Question:

668. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health the number of home care package applications received in 2010, 2011 and 2012; the number allowed; the number refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8147/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Question No. 669 answered with Question No. 665.

Medicinal Products Supply

Questions (670)

Shane Ross

Question:

670. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Health if he will engage with the relevant authorities to assess the potential benefits of Ampligen to M.E patients; if he will work to ensure that Ampligen is made available to M.E patients here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8174/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Under European and Irish legislation, before a medicine can be placed on the Irish market the manufacturer has to seek an authorisation from the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) or in the case of certain medicinal products, the European Medicines Agency (EMA). A determination on an application for authorisation of a medicine is based on a rigorous scientific assessment of the application against legal and regulatory requirements. In the case of Ampligen, because of the biotechnology nature of the active substance involved, any application for Ampligen to be made available to European patients has to be made to the EMA. I have no information on whether or not such an application has been received by the EMA.

The current position therefore is that Ampligen has not been authorised to be placed on the market in Europe.

Health Services

Questions (671, 735, 736)

Gerry Adams

Question:

671. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health if in this State the standard practice is to fit deaf children with only one cochlear implant; if he will give consideration to changing this practice and move towards bilateral implantation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8175/13]

View answer

Gerry Adams

Question:

735. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health the date on which he received the business proposition that has been put forward by Beaumont Hospital in relation to the provision of bilateral cochlear implants for children who need them; and when he expects a decision to be made in relation to this proposition. [8761/13]

View answer

Gerry Adams

Question:

736. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health the date on which Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, and Health Service Executive management meet to discuss the proposition made by Beaumont Hospital in relation to the provision of bilateral cochlear implants; if the HSE have endorsed the proposal made by Beaumont Hospital; if he will now make a decision on same [8762/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 671, 735 and 736 together.

The HSE undertook a National Review of Audiology Services. The National Audiology Review Group developed a comprehensive set of recommendations to address the inconsistencies and inadequacies in audiology services which are contained in the HSE Report of the National Review of Audiology Services published in April 2011.

This report provides the blueprint for the planning, development and delivery of HSE audiology services, from new-born screening to assessment and management of adults and children with hearing problems, including cochlear implantation. That report included a recommendation that continued ring-fenced financial support be provided for the cochlear implant programme but at levels which allow for simultaneous bilateral implantation for children.

Since then, the HSE Audiology Clinical Care Programme was formed to oversee the implementation of the recommendations detailed by this report. Progress is being made on the modernisation of audiology services in Ireland with the introduction of a universal national programme of new-born hearing screening a key priority.

Beaumont Hospital is the centre for delivering Ireland’s national cochlear implant programme, with surgical provision for patients under six (6) years carried out in the Children’s University Hospital Temple Street. While no dedicated programme for simultaneous or sequential cochlear implantation is being carried out in Ireland at this time, some bilateral implantation has already occurred for patients, mainly very young children with certain medical conditions such as a history of meningitis or blindness.

It is estimated that there are approximately 200 children in Ireland today who may be suitable for a second implant. Not all suitable patients proceed with the second implant when appraised of all the issues involved.

I am aware that Beaumont Hospital, HSE Management and the HSE’s Audiology Clinical Care Programme have met recently to discuss a joint process to identify the options for developing and resourcing a programme of simultaneous and sequential cochlear implantation. An important element of this will be the development of clear clinical criteria to prioritise clients for assessment and follow on implantation. The introduction of this service is a matter between the HSE and Beaumont hospital and the HSE has advised me that these plans will be progressed through the HSE 2014 estimates process.

Question No. 672 answered with Question No. 649.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (673)

Tom Fleming

Question:

673. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will issue a discretionary medical card as a matter of urgency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8178/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Questions Nos. 674 and 675 answered with Question No. 649.

Prescription Charges

Questions (676, 692)

Robert Troy

Question:

676. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he will explain the anomaly which exists between monthly prescription charges for families in which no family member has a medical card and monthly prescription charges for families when one member has a medical card on medical grounds, if no family member has a medical card, that family pays a maximum of €144 per month for prescription charges, if one member of that family has a medical card on medical grounds then the family pays the €144 monthly prescription charge plus €1.50 per item in the medical card prescription; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8188/13]

View answer

Willie Penrose

Question:

692. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health if there are any proposals or provisions permitted which would accommodate persons who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the prescription charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8288/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 676 and 692 together.

The General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme and the Drug Payment Scheme (DPS) are separate schemes with separate qualifying criteria.

Under the GMS Scheme, medical card holders are required to pay a €1.50 charge per item for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists, subject to a cap of €19.50 per month for each person or family. Charges are not payable in respect of items supplied under the Long Term Illness Scheme. Prescription charges do not apply to children in the care of the HSE or to methadone supplied to patients participating in the Methadone Treatment Scheme.

Under the DPS, no individual or family pays more than €144 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.

In addition, 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. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation.

There is no provision, under the prescription charge legislation, to accommodate persons who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the prescription charge.

HSE Staffing

Questions (677)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

677. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health the number of posts in the Health Service Executive currently filled using the jobbridge scheme; if he will identify the posts in question; if he will state the numbers so employed in 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8191/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The JobBridge Scheme was established by my colleague the Minister for Social Protection to provide work experience placements for interns for a 6 or 9 month period.

The filling of such posts is a matter for the Health Service Executive, and as such, the Deputy's enquiry has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Card Drugs

Questions (678)

Robert Troy

Question:

678. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he will continue to cover the cost of the drug, Dispamine 250g per month on the medical card of a person (details supplied); the reason the drug is being removed as a permanent item on the medical card payment items list; and the reason Wilson's disease is not being recognised as a long term illness by his Department. [8192/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE is responsible for the administration of the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme, therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme.

Health Services

Questions (679)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

679. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a commitment that a residential unit (details supplied) in County Galway will continue in its current use and provide a commitment that medical staff there, in line with the ethical guidelines of their professions, should not be intimidated out of speaking publicly to defend the welfare of their patients by Health Service Executive west management as is now being attempted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8197/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE, which has operational responsibility for this unit, recently commenced measures to address safety issues identified at the facility. The Executive has indicated that it will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including medical staff, to ensure that the safety of residents remains the primary concern. Pending the outcome of a review of 24 hour residential facilities for East Galway Mental Health services generally, no decision has been taken in relation to the future use of the unit.

Hospital Services

Questions (680)

Robert Dowds

Question:

680. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health the reasons the epilepsy units at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, and at Cork University Hospital have not yet been opened; and when he expects to be able to open them in full. [8204/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Cork and Beaumont are two of six regional centres which have been identified by the HSE's Clinical Care Programme for Epilepsy for the provision of specialist epilepsy services. Developments so far under the Programme include the opening of Rapid Access Clinics at four of these centre, including Beaumont, St James’s, Galway and Limerick. The Rapid Access clinics are led by Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs). Under the Programme, 10.5 (WTE) Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) have been recruited to lead these clinics so that a total of 12 ANPs are now in place across the four centres, delivering services on site and on an outreach basis.

The two Epilepsy Monitoring Units (EMUs) planned for Cork and Beaumont under the Programme will increase pre-surgical evaluation capacity. Monitoring is required for those patients with the worst effects of epilepsy, and patients at these units will require 24/7 care.

The staffing requirements to enable the units to be safely opened have been identified. In regard to the planned EMU at Beaumont, I am advised by the HSE that, having secured recruitment approval from the National Control Group, Beaumont is progressing the recruitment of the posts necessary to support the service development. The recruitment of the necessary nursing personnel is a key element to facilitate phased opening of the unit as nursing staff come into post.

With regard to Cork, the HSE has advised that it is the intention of the Cork University Hospital management to open the EMU in Quarter 3 of this year and this will be included in the HSE South’s 2013 Regional Service Plan.

Treatment Abroad Scheme

Questions (681)

Robert Dowds

Question:

681. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health if persons with epilepsy who require specialised treatment are eligible to seek treatment abroad under the treatment abroad scheme while the opening of the epilepsy units at Cork University Hospital and at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, is pending. [8205/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE operates a Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS), for persons entitled to treatment in another EU/EEA member state or Switzerland under EU Regulation 883/04 and Implementing Regulation 987/09 and in accordance with Department of Health and Children Guidelines. Within these governing EU Regulations and the Department of Health and Children’s Guidelines, the TAS provides for the cost of approved treatments in another EU/EEA member state or Switzerland through the issue of form E112 (IE).

The TAS allows for an Irish based Consultant to refer a patient that is normally resident in Ireland for treatment in another EU member state or Switzerland, where the treatment in question meets the following criteria:

(a) The application to refer a patient abroad has been assessed and a determination given before that patient goes abroad.

(b) Following clinical assessment, the referring Consultant certifies the following:

- They recommend the patient be treated in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland;

- The treatment is medically necessary and will meet the patient’s needs;

- The treatment is a proven form of medical treatment and is not experimental or test treatment;

- The treatment is in a recognised hospital or other institution and is under the control of a registered medical practitioner;

The hospital outside the state will accept EU/EEA form E112 (IE).

Applications to the scheme are made prior to a patient travelling abroad, are processed in line with the above criteria, are medically assessed and a decision issued to the applicant.

In summary, all decisions including those from patients with epilepsy as referred to by the Deputy are made based on the criteria of the scheme and the medical assessors’ recommendation.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (682)

Finian McGrath

Question:

682. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will support the need for access to neuro-rehabilitation services in view of the fact that there are unacceptably long waiting lists to see a neurologist; and if he will end cuts to this vital support service. [8208/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Current neuro-rehabilitation services available include acute hospital services; the National Rehabilitation Hospital; multi-disciplinary community services; long-term assisted living supports; and rehabilitative training services. These services are provided directly by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and several non-statutory organisations.

Improving access to outpatient services, including neurology services, is a key priority for the Government. Building on work already undertaken by the HSE, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has now taken over the reporting of outpatient waiting time data. For the first time, clear and comprehensive data is available on www.ptr.ie. The collation and analysis of outpatient waiting time data in a standardised format will reveal the distribution of those waiting longest across all hospitals. In the first instance, this will allow the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) and NTPF to target their resources towards those patients who are waiting longest and ensure that they are seen and assessed. A maximum waiting time target has now been set of 12 months for a first time outpatient appointment by 30th November 2013.

In parallel with reducing the numbers of longest waiters, the SDU will also work with the HSE Clinical Programmes to reform the structure, organisation and delivery of outpatient services to ensure that the right patient is seen and assessed by the right health professional at the right time.

I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy regarding his specific query on waiting times for a Neurologist.

Health Services

Questions (683)

Noel Harrington

Question:

683. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Health the services available to young self employed persons, who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and unable to work anymore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8212/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I understand from the Deputy that this question relates to an application to have the cost of medication, prescribed to a person with Alzheimer's disease, covered under the Long Term Illness Scheme.

I wish to advise that Alzheimer's disease is not one of the conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme and there are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the scheme.

Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €144 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.

In addition, 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. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation.

Health Services Expenditure

Questions (684)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

684. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Health the funding from the Special Delivery Unit that has been allocated to County Mayo to date; the details of such funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8218/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Special Delivery Unit has supported funding for two initiatives in Mayo General Hospital. The Hospital received €300,000 in 2012 to support the enhancement and development of their Acute Medical Assessment Unit. More recently, in January 2013, the SDU supported an application for funding to assist in supporting their escalation measures to address trolley waits for the first two months of the year when there is heightened pressure and demand on Emergency Departments. This funding of €105,000 is to be released to the Hospital through the normal HSE finance processes.

Question No. 685 answered with Question No. 649.

Health Services Expenditure

Questions (686)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

686. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the new criteria recently announced for the funding of day centres; the considerations his Department has given to sparsely populated areas and rural isolation of the elderly in formulating this criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8239/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Questions No. 687 and 688 answered with Question No. 649.

Hospital Staff

Questions (689)

Tom Fleming

Question:

689. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health when will the promised podiatry post at Kerry General Hospital be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8263/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE National Clinical Programme for Diabetes - which includes the care of children and adolescents with diabetes - was established within the Clinical Strategy and Programmes Directorate. The purpose of the Programme is to define the way diabetic Clinical Services should be delivered, resourced and measured; and a clinician has been appointed to lead on the development of the programme.

In relation to the specific query raised by the Deputy, I have been advised by the HSE that Kerry General Hospital have been approved for 1.25 whole time equivalent podiatrist. The hospital is currently in the process of drafting a service plan and the filling of the post will be considered in this context and the associated available funding resource.

HSE Correspondence

Questions (690)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

690. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 227, 228, 229, and 230 which were referred to the Health Service Executive on 23 January 2013, when the replies to these questions from the HSE will be forthcoming. [8266/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I can confirm that a reply to PQs 229 and 230 issued to the Deputy from the HSE on 13th February 2013. I am advised by the HSE that the outstanding reply to PQs 227 and 228 will issue in the coming days.