Questions Nos. 1 to 24, inclusive, answered orally.

Questions Nos. 25 to 70, inclusive, resubmitted.

Questions Nos. 71 to 78, inclusive, answered orally.

Medical Card Issues

Questions (79)

Mick Wallace

Question:

79. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health if it is possible for medical card holders to change their general practitioners in certain circumstances where difficulties arise in the professional relationship between a patient and GP (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to any difficulties faced by patients when trying to switch their GPs for this reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30385/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme allows GMS patients (medical card and GP visit card holders) to choose their GP from a list of locally based contracted doctors, or GMS patients may be assigned to a GP contractor’s panel in certain circumstances specified in the contract. The purpose of a GMS patient either choosing or being assigned to one GP is to ensure continuity of care.

A person who no longer wishes to avail himself/herself of the medical practitioner with whom he/she is registered may seek to be included on the list of another doctor in the area participating in the GMS Scheme by completing a Change of Doctor form and submitting it to the HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Services (PCRS). This form is available from the HSE’s Local Health Office and online at: https://www.sspcrs.ie/portal/medapp/printforms.jsp

When an individual submits a Change of Doctor form and where the information provided is correct, the appropriate changes are made and a new medical card is issued. Where a person has had three unsuccessful attempts to secure another GMS doctor, the medical card holder should contact PCRS in writing, providing details of the doctors they have contacted, and PCRS will assign the person to a GMS doctor within their locality.

Ministerial Advisers Remuneration

Questions (80)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

80. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to The Sunday Business Post of 16 June, which reports that two senior figures, working as advisers to the Minister's Special Delivery unit, are paid through overseas companies; and his views on whether this is a method of legally avoiding paying income tax in this jurisdiction. [30416/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The decisions to employ both individuals concerned were based on specific requirements for the provision of specialised expertise to address significant health service reform, as committed to in the Programme for Government. The Department of Health fully cooperates with the Revenue Commissioners in the exercise of their duties and is vigilant with regard to compliance with its tax obligations. With respect to the specific newspaper article, as the Department has already stated, it would not be appropriate for it to comment on any tax matter relating to any individual case which may arise.

Alcohol Sales

Questions (81)

Niall Collins

Question:

81. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health when he will bring forward measures to reduce alcohol consumption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30423/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Proposals are currently being finalised on foot of the recommendations in the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy 2012. These proposals cover all of the areas mentioned in the report, including legislation on minimum unit pricing; controls on alcohol advertising and sponsorship; labelling of alcohol products, and measures on access and availability of alcohol.

The Department of Health has consulted and negotiated with Government colleagues extensively, since the publication of the Report, in order to reach consensus on the most effective way to tackle the problem of alcohol misuse in society. The Cabinet Committee on Social Policy has considered these proposals and it is intended to bring forward a finalised package of proposals for consideration by Government shortly. In the meantime, work on developing a framework for the necessary Department of Health legislation is continuing.

A health impact assessment is being commissioned in conjunction with Northern Ireland as part of the process of developing a legislative basis for 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.

Symphysiotomy Report

Questions (82, 589, 596)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

82. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health if he will give details of the membership of the Steering Committee on the Walsh review of symphysiotomy; the names of the members; the date on which they commenced work; their terms of reference; if they have concluded their deliberations; the moneys that have been expended by his Department to date on the production of the draft Walsh report, and the final Walsh report; to whom these payments were disbursed and the service involved. [30388/13]

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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

589. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health the membership of the Steering Committee on the Walsh review of symphysiotomy; the terms of reference; the date on which they commenced work; if they have concluded their deliberations; if not, when he expects them to report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30323/13]

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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

596. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health the membership of the Steering Committee on the Walsh review of symphysiotomy; the membership of same; when it commenced work; its terms of reference; if it has concluded its deliberations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30532/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82, 589 and 596 together.

My Department commissioned an independent research report in relation to the practice of symphysiotomy in Ireland in June 2011. The research process comprised of two stages. The first stage was an independent draft academic research report, which was based on an analysis of published medical reports and research and was made available in June 2012. The second stage involved a public consultation process on the draft report involving patient groups, health professionals and in particular the women who have experienced symphysiotomy. This consultation process took place in the second half of 2012. This second stage has been completed by the researcher. The draft report was peer reviewed and the final report was submitted to my Department at the end of May 2013.

I am at present considering the report and I intend to brief the Government shortly on its content before publication. I also intend to meet with representatives from the symphysiotomy support groups prior to the release of the report.

The total cost of commissioning this report is €39,500 of which €27,500 has been paid to the researcher to date. No Steering Group was established in relation to this independent research report.