National Treatment Purchase Fund

Questions (218)

Tom Fleming

Question:

218. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health when will he make funding available to the national treatment purchase fund; the facilities has he put in place to address the waiting lists and the large number of patients awaiting urgent treatment or procedures; his future plans for the national treatment purchase fund in view of the fact that he withdrew funding when he came into office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21659/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Immediately following my appointment, I established the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) 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. As set out in Future Health, a key goal is to deliver faster more equitable access to hospital services. The implementation of the SDU Performance Improvement Programme in Scheduled Care is a key driver of reducing waiting times for scheduled (elective) care in hospitals.

The SDU Scheduled Care Team focused initially on waiting times for in-patient and daycase elective surgery. For 2012, a target was set that no adult should wait longer than 9 months for inpatient or daycase treatment. By the end of December 2012, the number of adults having to wait more than 9 months for inpatient and day case surgery nationally had fallen to 86. This was down from 3,706 in December 2011, representing a 98% decrease. I am determined that the progress made in 2012 be maintained and improved upon. For 2013, the target is that no adult should be waiting longer than 8 months for inpatient or daycase treatment. It is important to recognise that the progress made in 2012 does not mean the problem is solved, and 2013 will of course be extremely challenging. For example, winter pressures in Emergency Departments have impacted on scheduled care waiting times. However, in the coming months, as winter pressures ease, the SDU will work towards re-balancing scheduled care to maintain the improvements seen in 2012 and to achieve the new 2013 target. Also in 2013, the SDU will focus on improving access to outpatient services and a maximum waiting time target has now been set of 12 months for a first time outpatient appointment..

In July 2011 I announced changes to the remit of the NTPF, namely that its role would be changed to support the mission of the SDU. The NTPF is now fully aligned with the SDU and is targeting waiting lists strategically and assisting in the performance management of hospitals to reduce waiting times for patients. The NTPF capability is a core part of the SDU's performance improvement role in holding public hospitals to account. The NTPF future role is under consideration in the context of the structural reforms set out in Future Health–A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012 –2015.

Generic Drugs Substitution

Questions (219)

Michael McGrath

Question:

219. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will respond to an issue of generic substitution raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [21666/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill, the Irish Medicines Board has statutory responsibility for establishing and publishing a List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products.

In deciding whether to add a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products, the Board must be satisfied that each medicinal product which falls within the group: (a) has the same qualitative and quantitative composition in each of its active substances as each of the other medicinal products which fall within the group; (b) is in the same pharmaceutical form as, or in a pharmaceutical form that is appropriate for substitution for, each of the other products in the group; and (c) has the same route of administration as each of the other medicinal products which fall within the group.

In addition, the Bill provides that the Board is not permitted to add a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products where there is a difference in bioavailability between the medicinal products and the interchangeable medicinal products which currently fall within the group of interchangeable medicinal products which may lead to a clinically significant difference in efficacy between them, and any of the medicinal products cannot be safely substituted for any one or more of the other medicinal products in the group.

I would like to emphasise that in making a decision to add a medicinal product to a group of interchangeable medicinal products or a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products the Board is obliged to have regard to the criteria as set out in the Bill and that these criteria fully reflect the recommendations set out in the Joint Department of Health/HSE report 'Proposed Model of Reference Pricing and Generic Substitution' (the Moran Report, 2010) regarding criteria for interchangeability.

To further enhance the patient safety aspect of generic substitution, Section 13 of the Bill allows a prescriber to indicate on a prescription that a branded interchangeable medicinal product should, for clinical reasons, not be substituted.

I am satisfied that these provisions address the concerns raised. I met with the Irish Epilepsy Association in January and explained this position.

It is also important to point out that generic medicines must meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the originator medicine. All of the generic medicines on the Irish market are required to be properly licensed and meet the requirements of the Irish Medicines Board.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (220)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

220. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if he will expedite same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21673/13]

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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. The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has recently reissued to Oireachtas members.

Hospital Facilities

Questions (221)

Gerry Adams

Question:

221. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health if any decision has been made regarding the future of St Joseph's Hospital in Ardee, County Louth; the investment there will be in the facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21684/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Hospital Appointment Status

Questions (222)

Martin Ferris

Question:

222. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive a hospital appointment for an operation. [21689/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to waiting list management in general, the National Waiting List Management Policy , A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2013 , has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, recently been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in this matter.

Care Services

Questions (223)

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

223. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health his plans for Saint Joseph’s House, Stillorgan, County Dublin, a residential facility that caters for 30 to 40 deaf and blind adults; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21693/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

St Joseph's House Stillorgan is a residential facility operated by the Catholic institute for Deaf People under a service level arrangement with the Health Service Executive. Accordingly the Department has requested the Health Service Executive to reply directly to the Deputy.

Patient Transport Provision

Questions (224)

Denis Naughten

Question:

224. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the transport the Health Service Executive will provide to patients attending outpatient appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21706/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Patient transport is the responsibility of the HSE. However, people attending outpatient and hospital appointments are, in general, expected to make their own travel arrangements, using private or scheduled public transport. The exceptions are for dialysis, cancer (radiotherapy and chemotherapy) and post-operative transplant patients, where transport may be provided. In these cases, the patient's appointment or treatment should be directly related to the treatment.

Transport may also be provided where, in the clinician's view, the patient would be unable to make the journey without clinical assistance or where the patient must be transported on a stretcher.

Following implementation of the HSE's non-ambulance patient transport policy, responsibility for the arrangement and provision of non-ambulance transport has moved from the HSE National Ambulance Service to local health offices in each region. If a patient or his or her clinician considers that transport is required, the local health office should be contacted.