Health Screening Programmes

Questions (102)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

102. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the phased roll out of the national diabetic retinopathy screening programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30440/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE commenced the national diabetic retinopathy screening programme (Diabetic RetinaScreen) in February 2013.

Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and the leading cause of blindness among working age Irish adults. Approximately 10 per cent of the Irish diabetic population has sight-threatening Diabetic Retinopathy and around 90 per cent of this group will develop some form of retinopathy.

Diabetic RetinaScreen offers free, annual diabetic retinopathy screening to people with diabetes aged 12 and older (approximately 190,000 people). All people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes that can lead to deterioration in vision. Eye screening uses specialised digital photography to detect, at an early stage, when it is effective at reducing or preventing damage to sight. The aim of the programme is to reduce the risk of sight loss amongst people with diabetes.

A quality assurance framework and a central database of the eligible diabetic population has been developed for the programme. The first round of screening is being introduced on a phased basis, in line with the roll-out of the first round of screening across other international programmes. Approximately 30 per cent of the eligible diabetic population is expected to be invited in 2013. The remaining 70 per cent will be screened in 2014. Treatment is tailored on a case-by-case basis.

Two companies have been contracted to provide photography and grading services for the programme. Work is ongoing with six treatment centres (Mater Hospital, Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Waterford Regional Hospital and Letterkenny General Hospital, Cork University Hospital and Mid-Western Regional Hospital) to provide treatment for screened clients.

Graduate Nursing Scheme Issues

Questions (103)

Michael McGrath

Question:

103. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the graduate nurse recruitment scheme; the take up to date; the way this compares to the original target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30434/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

A major objective of this scheme was to put in place more cost-effective service delivery arrangements, having regard to the high rates of expenditure on agency staffing and overtime. The scheme also enables recently-qualified nurses and midwives to gain a variety of front-line service experience and to further develop specific professional skills. As the Deputy will be aware, the nursing unions were strongly opposed to the scheme and as a result the number of applications to date has been limited. To date nine applicants have been assigned to work locations and have taken up their posts. A further sixty applicants have been assigned to locations but have yet to take up duty.

Under the Haddington Road Agreement, which has now been accepted by the nursing unions, it has been agreed that revised salary rates will be payable to participants in this scheme. In this context the HSE will shortly be proceeding to invite further applications and to facilitate qualified applicants with offers of appointment to posts in the part of the country for which they have expressed a preference. Recruitment will continue during 2013, with a particular focus on nurses who will be graduating next autumn.

Air Ambulance Service Provision

Questions (104)

Denis Naughten

Question:

104. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health his plans for the development of the air ambulance service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30023/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The twelve month emergency aeromedical support (EAS) service pilot has now been completed. The EAS pilot is currently being reviewed and that assessment is expected to be completed shortly.

In relation to the continuation of the service, I have agreed with my colleague, the Minister for Defence, to an extension of aeromedical support by the Air Corps to the EAS service for a period of up to three months, pending receipt and consideration of the report on the review of the pilot.

Hospital Services

Questions (105, 114)

John Halligan

Question:

105. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Health his plans for Loughlinstown hospital in view of the Framework for Smaller Hospitals report and the reorganisation of the services across South Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30415/13]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

114. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health the services to be provided at individual smaller hospital sites as signalled in the Framework for Smaller Hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30406/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 114 together.

The Framework for Smaller Hospitals lists the services that are appropriate to a smaller hospital. The future growth in healthcare will be in the services such as ambulatory care (including chronic disease management and day surgery), diagnostics and rehabilitation which will be based in smaller hospitals. As a result of these emerging models of healthcare delivery, and the ageing population, the total volume of activity of the smaller hospitals will grow substantially and no smaller hospital will close as a result of either the Hospital Groups Report or the Framework for Smaller Hospitals. This increase in volume is particularly evidenced in Roscommon where day case discharges have increased by 26% from 3,798 in 2010 to 5,127 in 2012.

Hospital groups will be required to submit a strategic plan within one year of formation which will outline their plans for future services within the group area, including those to be delivered in each smaller hospital. In the case of Loughlinstown hospital, its future role will be developed in consultation with the Dublin East Hospital Group of which it is a member. Smaller hospitals will play a crucial role in the delivery of services and when groups are established, services can be exchanged between sites. This will result in the enhancement of activity in smaller hospitals and will allow them to focus on the provision of care that is safe and appropriate.

The implementation of the Framework for these smaller hospitals has largely been completed around the country and the objective is to complete the remaining necessary changes dependent on required capacity being available in the regions and hospital groups concerned.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (106)

Robert Troy

Question:

106. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health his views on whether services for persons with spina bifida are sufficient to their needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30444/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have met with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI) on numerous occasions since taking office and I am very familiar with their work on behalf of and with individuals and their families. More recently I met with the organisation in March of this year and I had the pleasure of launching their Creativity and Life Skills Programme in April. The organisation's family support workers provide information, guidance, advocacy, emotional and practical support to people with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus and their families and to healthcare and educational professionals and to others working within the disability sector. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has a service level agreement with SBHI and in 2012 provided funding of €951,000 to support their work.

It is open to people with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus conditions to avail of the wide range of health and personal social services and specialist disability services provided by the HSE. The Government also provides other supports, including income supports through the Department of Social Protection, tax reliefs through the Revenue Commissioners, housing supports through local authorities etc.

Hospital Staff Issues

Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 89.

Questions (107)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

107. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health if he will advise the now anticipated shortfall of non-consultant hospital doctors by hospital site as of 8 July; the specialist disciplines so affected by hospital site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30387/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE is actively managing the recruitment process for the next rotation of Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors in order to ensure that as many as possible are recruited and that all critical service needs are met. A number of separate recruitment processes are currently underway including:

- Filling by the Postgraduate Training Bodies of posts on training schemes;

- HSE Centralised Applications process;

- Local recruitment - which fills approximately 70% of service posts;

- External HSE funded initiatives, including a partnership arrangement with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan and recruitment in South Africa. These initiatives are focusing on key specialties including Emergency Medicine.

As the position evolves on a day-to-day basis it is not possible to indicate in respect of individual hospital sites what the position will be on the rotation date itself. Many hospitals report low numbers of anticipated vacancies and, where positions have not been filled by changeover date, the shortfall will be addressed through re-allocation of staff from other sites or the filling of critical posts by way of agency staffing. The disciplines in which recruitment difficulties are experienced are primarily Anaesthetics, General Medicine and Emergency Medicine at Registrar level, with some shortfall also possible in Paediatrics, Oncology and Haematology.

Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 89.

Mental Health Commission Reports

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 89.

Questions (109)

Barry Cowen

Question:

109. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health his views on the recent annual report published by the Mental Health Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30424/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I welcome the publication of the Mental Health Commission Annual Report 2012 which includes the Report of the Inspector of Mental Health Services. The function of the Mental Health Commission is to promote, encourage and foster the establishment and maintenance of high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services. This Annual Report provides a valuable contribution to the current important discussion on how to further improve standards in the delivery of our mental health services.

I welcome the continued progress towards ending the use of outdated and unsuitable buildings to provide in-patient services and the continued development of child and adolescent units which has contributed to a decline in the number of admissions of children to adult units. However, it is disappointing that the pace of change towards a modern, patient-centred, recovery orientated mental health service has been somewhat slower than expected. It is also a concern that the Inspector found that overall compliance with regulation, rules and codes of practice in 2012 can only be regarded as fair with no significant improvement on previous years.

The implementation of A Vision for Change remains a priority for this Government. We are committed to reforming our model of healthcare delivery so that more and better quality care is delivered in the community. To achieve this, additional funding totalling €70 million and almost 900 new posts have been provided as part of the last two Budgets primarily to strengthen Community Mental Health Teams for both adults and children.

High standards in facilities and in in-patient care must be the norm without exception. The aim is to further develop mental health services that are recovery oriented and that put service users, their families and carers at the centre.

The announcement by the HSE of the appointment of a new Director for Mental Health will pave the way for a significant change in the management and delivery of our mental health services and will be a key step towards remedying many of the problems identified by the Inspector for Mental Health Services.

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 89.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 95.

Questions (111)

Brendan Smith

Question:

111. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the latest waiting list figures for day cases and in patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30442/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

For 2013, the maximum waiting time targets are less than eight months for adults, less than 20 weeks for children and less than 13 weeks for routine GI endoscopy. The latest available figures at 2 May 2013 show:

- A total of 39,064 (88% of total) adults waiting less than 8 months

- 5,392 adults waiting longer than eight months

- 3,725 adults waiting longer than nine months

- 717 adults waiting longer 12 months

- A total of 2,889 (80% of total) children waiting less than 20 weeks

- 716 children waiting longer than 20 weeks

- A total of 7,876 (90% of total) waiting less than 13 weeks

- 917 patients waiting longer than 13 weeks

Following the significant progress made by the end of 2012 in reducing waiting times, the number waiting longer than the maximum waiting time has increased. This reflects the impact on waiting times of the severe pressures on Emergency Departments in the early months of this year. In working towards the maximum waiting times for 2013, the SDU together with the NTPF and the HSE is undertaking a range of measures. These involve working closely with hospitals to analyse performance, to agree action plans and extra support as necessary and to ensure hospital capacity is being optimised. It is expected that the effect of these measures will begin to be seen in the mid-year figures.

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 95.

Suicide Prevention

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 105.

Questions (113)

Derek Keating

Question:

113. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Health the checks that are put in place by his Department in relation to organisations which provide professional services for suicide, depression, bereavement and other such community-based services which receive funding from his Department; the criteria required to ensure that all public moneys paid are used in the correct manner for which that money is supplied; if he is satisfied that auditing of public funding provided to such organisations meets a standard that protects the State from fraud, misuse or inappropriate management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30202/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department has a National Lottery discretionary fund in place which provides once-off grants to community groups and organisations providing a range of health related services. The assessment of applications is made on the basis that these grants are intended to be discretionary 'once off' funding and are not intended to fund ongoing services. Once an application has been received and registered, my Department consults with the Health Service Executive and assesses the merits of the application and the impact the service provider in question has on local and national health services.

The Government's tax clearance procedures apply to all grants allocated. These procedures mean that groups must certify that their tax affairs are in order, and provide their Tax Reference Number and Tax Clearance Certificate where appropriate. Alternatively, if an organisation has been granted Charitable Tax Exemption from the Revenue Commissioners, their CHY number must accompany the application.

Organisations are made aware of the terms of approval regarding certification and must furnish a certified invoice or an audited statement of accounts which clearly shows where the grant was spent and that it was used for the purpose it was provided for. It is also a condition of the grant that certification of expenditure should be submitted to the Department as soon as possible after the end of the financial year or when the project is completed (whichever is earlier).

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 105.

Nursing Home Beds

Questions (115)

John McGuinness

Question:

115. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied that there is an adequate supply of nursing home beds in north Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30437/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Patient Safety Authority

Questions (116)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

116. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health the date on which the Patient Safety Authority will be established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30441/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department is examining the appropriate structures for the responsibilities that might be assigned to the Patient Safety Agency (PSA). The role and inter-relationship of the PSA with the reforming health system needs to be carefully designed and developed. My Department is liaising with the Health Service Executive on the details surrounding the establishment of the PSA to ensure an identifiable and distinct leadership responsibility for patient safety and quality at national level having regard to the need for a robust quality and safety function within the new delivery structures of the Reform Programme. The intention is to establish a Patient Safety Agency on an administrative basis in 2013.

Home Help Service Provision

Questions (117)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

117. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health his plans to improve the regulation of home help and homecare services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30446/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question Number 524 of 18 June 2013. The position remains unchanged.

Care of the Elderly

Questions (118)

Derek Keating

Question:

118. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied that the appropriate training and qualifications are being adhered to by private and voluntary organisations which provide services under the Care of the Elderly service provision; if he will outline the standards that should apply when a person is providing care in the home, in a day centre or in an institution; the monitoring that takes place to ensure that no abuse or low standards of service provision is being missed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30203/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question Number 524 of 18 June 2013. The position remains unchanged.

Care of the Elderly

Questions (119)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

119. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health when he expects to bring forward legislation to allow for the introduction of minimum standards, inspection scheduling, mandatory training requirements, reporting procedures, to cover public and private providers of care for elderly persons and vulnerable adults in their own homes; his views on whether a regime of this nature is needed and warranted to protect elderly persons and vulnerable adults from potential abuses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30029/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question Number 524 of 18 June 2013. The position remains unchanged.

Diabetes Strategy

Questions (120)

Joe McHugh

Question:

120. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health if he will update Dáil Éireann on proposals to improve paediatric diabetes nursing supports in the north west; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30020/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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