Medical Card Applications

Questions (609)

Tom Fleming

Question:

609. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will expedite a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [12603/13]

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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.

HSE Expenditure

Questions (610)

Seán Kenny

Question:

610. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Health the amount spent by the Health Service Executive Dublin North East on hiring taxis for the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12618/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

General Practitioner Services

Question No. 612 answered with Question No. 570.

Questions (611)

Seán Kenny

Question:

611. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Health if he will increase the number of vehicles allocated to the D-Doc Service; the cost of repairs to the vehicles, fuel and so on for the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12619/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

90% of the population have access to GP out-of-hours services in 14 centres nationally, in all HSE regions, in at least part of every county. Over 2,000 GPs provide services in the co-ops.

In relation to the specific issue raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on the issue.

Question No. 612 answered with Question No. 570.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (613)

Tom Fleming

Question:

613. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health If he will expedite a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12638/13]

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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.

Misuse of Drugs

Questions (614)

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

614. Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Health the progress being made in drafting legislation that will enable the Garda to prosecute those found in the illegal possession of prescription drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12640/13]

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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.

The supply of prescription medicines is controlled in a number of ways. Medicines which have a high potential to be misused are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Acts. The Misuse of Drugs Acts and Regulations impose restrictions on the production, supply, importation and exportation of controlled drugs, such as morphine, methadone and amphetamines. A person who has in his possession a prescription medicine containing a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs legislation for the purpose of selling or supplying it, is guilty of an offence under that legislation.

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.

As a result of consultations with key stakeholders, draft Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations are currently being prepared to introduce additional controls on certain prescription drugs being traded illicitly, including benzodiazepine medicines. 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.

Health Services Issues

Questions (615)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

615. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the number of current valid general practitioner visit cards and current valid medical cards today or latest available date and for preceding years of 2009, 2010, and 2011 for the Dublin Central area by DED, access to basic health care is a right and with the increase numbers of persons reported to be giving up health insurance the progress to date on plans for introduction of universal health insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12653/13]

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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.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (616)

Tom Fleming

Question:

616. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will issue an emergency discretionary medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12654/13]

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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.

Nursing Home Services

Questions (617)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

617. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Health the proposals in place to deal with fire safety issues at a nursing home (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12656/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The registration of St. Anne's Nursing Home, Woodford, County Galway was cancelled by the Chief Inspector of Social Services on Friday, 10 February 2012 under section 51 of the Health Act, 2007, as amended. The then registered provider consented to this cancellation. The grounds for the cancellation related to the lack of fitness shown by the then registered provider in addressing significant fire safety concerns in the centre. The HSE took charge of the centre in accordance with section 64 of the Act and made alternative arrangements for the residents. The centre closed on 13 February 2012.

As the centre is now closed, it cannot operate again as a nursing home unless a new application for registration is made to the Chief Inspector. Should such an application be made, evidence of compliance with fire safety requirements would have to be submitted by any applicant. This is a requirement under the relevant Registration Regulations. To date, no application for a new registration of this centre has been received by the Authority.

Alcohol Pricing

Questions (618)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

618. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on proposals for minimum pricing of alcohol; if restrictions on advertising alcohol promotions will be put in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12657/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am pleased 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 and the advertising of alcohol. My Department is also working closely with the Department of Justice and Equality, which is responsible for section 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008; this, among other things, deals with the issue of alcohol promotions.

The Cabinet Committee on Social Policy has considered these proposals and I intend to bring forward specific proposals for consideration by Government as soon as possible. In the meantime, work on developing a framework for the necessary Department of Health legislation is continuing. For example, in conjunction with Northern Ireland, a health impact assessment is being commissioned as part of the process of developing a legislative basis for minimum unit pricing. (Scotland commissioned the same sort of assessment before it drafted its legislation on minimum unit pricing.) The health impact assessment will study the impact of different minimum prices on a range of areas such as health, crime and likely economic impact.

Hospital Staff Issues

Questions (619)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

619. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the number of consultant neurologists currently employed in the health service; the current out-patient waiting times in each case; the way in which this ratio of neurologists to population compares with European norms; and his plans, if any, to address the current long waiting times where over 5,000 people are waiting more than a year to see a neurologist. [12666/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Improving access to outpatient services is a key priority for the Government. Building on work already undertaken by the HSE, the National Treatment Purchase Fund has now taken over the reporting of outpatient waiting time data.

For the first time, clear and comprehensive data is available on www.ntpf.ie. The collation and analysis of outpatient waiting time data in a standardised format will reveal the distribution of long waiters across all hospitals. In the first instance, this will allow resources to be targeted towards those patients who are waiting longest and ensure that they are seen and assessed. For 2013, a maximum waiting time target has now been set of 12 months for a first time outpatient appointment.

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.

In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Questions (620)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

620. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he will investigate the priority of works proposed for St. Patrick's Hospital, Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, in view of the fact that the hospital does not have a call bell system and under the current phased programme or works to the hospital it is scheduled for the fourth phase; if he will reconsider this schedule and ask that call bells be given a higher priority and brought up to an earlier phase of the programme as communication between the patients and staff is vital to the well-being of the patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12667/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the delivery of healthcare infrastructure is a service matter your question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (621)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

621. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the savings that will accrue to his Department, the Health Service Executive and any other organisation under his remit as a result of the recent public service agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12672/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am not in a position to provide the requested information as yet. However, the Deputy may wish to note that the Revised Estimates Volume for 2013, which will be published shortly by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, will set out the revised allocations for Votes arising from the proposals made by the LRC.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (622)

Peter Mathews

Question:

622. Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the effects the public service recruitment plan is having on the provision of services (details supplied) in respect of adult intellectual disability services; the likely impact this may have on school leavers transferring into adult services at the end of the school year in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12714/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

This Government currently provides funding of over €1.5 billion to the Disability Services Programme through the HSE’s National Service Plan for 2013, and is committed to protecting frontline services for people with disabilities to the greatest possible extent. An additional €4 million demographic funding has been allocated to the HSE in 2013 to address the needs of young people with disabilities who are due to leave school this year.

In 2013 the HSE is seeking to maximise the provision of services within available resources and to maintaining a consistent level to that provided in 2012, by providing the following specialist disability services:

- residential services to over 9,000 people with a disability;

- day services to over 22,000 people with intellectual and physical disabilities;

- respite residential support for over 7,500 people with intellectual and physical disabilities;

- 1.68m hours of Personal Assistant / Home Support Hours.

In order to mitigate the impact on frontline services of the reduction in employment numbers which must be achieved this year, the priority is to reform how health services are delivered in order to ensure a more productive and cost effective health system. Therefore, the HSE is using the provisions of the Public Service Agreement to bring about greater flexibilities in work practices and rosters, redeployment and other changes to achieve more efficient delivery of services. Staff reductions will be pursued throughout 2013 through natural turnover (retirements and resignations) and such other targeted measures or initiatives as may be determined by Government in relation to the health sector or the wider public service.

In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service issues they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (623)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

623. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he wil provide clarification regarding the qualifying income limit for medical card applicants over the age of 70 (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12727/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The new eligibility rules for medical cards for persons aged over 70 years,announced in the Budget 2013, will take effect following the enactment of primary legislation. The implementation date will be announced and publicised in advance by the Department and HSE.As is the current situation, the revised thresholds will apply to gross income. It is intended that:-

- persons aged 70 years and over, whose gross weekly income is not more than €600 (€31,200 per annum) in the case of single persons and €1,200 (€62,400 per annum) in the case of couples, will qualify for full eligibility (medical cards).

- persons aged 70 years and over, whose gross weekly income is more than €600 (€31,200 per annum) but less than €700 (€36,400 per annum) in the case of single persons and more than €1,200 (€62,400 per annum) but less than €1,400 (72,800 per annum) in the case of couples, will qualify for GP Visit Cards.

People who lose the medical card will be entitled to make use of the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) which reimburses the cost of medication that exceeds a monthly threshold. There is provision for discretion by the HSE to grant a medical card in cases of "undue hardship" where income guidelines are exceeded and this provision will not be effected. In the case of all reviews and renewals of medical cards, the HSE offer assistances to individuals in assessing their situation underincome limit thresholds, as some may be unsure about their gross income or have concerns or difficulties in relation to self-assessment. This will continue to be case after the legislation is enacted and will be further bolstered by staff in local health offices who provide information, support and assistance to individuals in relation to their eligibility on an ongoing basis. They can also provide information on the current status of a review, being in a position to track the application on the centralised Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) office in Finglas.

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (624)

Tom Fleming

Question:

624. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health the position regarding cataract surgery in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12739/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The management of inpatient and daycase waiting lists for patients awaiting public health care is based on the principle that after urgent and cancer patients are treated, then clinically assessed routine patients should be seen in chronological order (i.e. longest waiter first).

Should the patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and hospital involved.

In relation to the specific query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

HSE Reports

Questions (625)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

625. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Health if his office has received a report (details supplied); if not, when does he expect to receive same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12745/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I have not received the report referred to by the Deputy. The Health Service Executive's Investigation Team continues to work diligently to complete the report as soon as possible recognising the need to balance expedience with thoroughness.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (626)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

626. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Health when a child (details supplied) in County Galway may expect to be called for reimplantation surgery. [12746/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Immediately following his appointment, the Minister for Health established the Special Delivery Unit, as set out in the Programme for Government. The aim of the SDU is to unblock access to acute services by improving the flow of patients through the system. A target was set for 2012 that no child should be waiting longer than 20 weeks for an elective procedure (either inpatient or daycase) and by the end of December 2012 the number of children waiting longer than 20 weeks had fallen to just 89 compared with 1.759 children waiting longer than 20 weeks in December 2011. The target remains in place for 2013, as set out in the HSE's National Service Plan.

In regard to the particular query raised by the Deputy, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to him on this matter.

HSE Properties

Questions (627)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

627. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health the reason a former Health Service Executive facility (details supplied) in Dublin 15 is being sold; if consideration will be given to the building being retained for community use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12751/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Management of healthcare property is a service matter. Therefore your question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Questions (628)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

628. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if the Health Service Executive has indemnified suppliers of replacement hips, namely DePuy Ltd. or Johnson and Johnson Ltd.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12753/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

HSE Procurement is responsible for the strategic sourcing, purchasing, storage and distribution of HSE goods and services. As this matter is a service issue your question has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.