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Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013

Written Answers Nos. 438-452

Hospital Staff Issues

Questions (438)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

438. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health when the new multi-task assistants will take up their positions at Carndonagh Hospital, County Donegal. [43568/13]

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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 Waiting Lists

Questions (439)

John McGuinness

Question:

439. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health his plans to deal with the urgent cases that were referred from Waterford General Hospital to Cappagh as these patients have now been told that the funding is now not available for the Cappagh iniative and they are now back on the WRH waiting lists; if he will confirm an early appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [43573/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In July 2011, I announced changes to the remit of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), to support the mission of the Special Delivery Unit (SDU). The NTPF/SDU are working closely with hospitals towards achievement of waiting time targets.

I am advised that, as part of this work in 2012, funding was set aside from the 2012 NTPF allocation to support Waterford Regional Hospital in arranging initial consultations for a limited number of orthopaedic outpatients, with the cooperation of Cappagh Hospital in Dublin. It would not be possible to predict with certainty, in advance of consultations taking place, whether all those outpatients would require further medical help, nor to predict the cohort of patients who would require follow-on in-patient surgical intervention.

In 2013, unlike previous years, funding for such performance improvement initiatives is held within the HSE Vote. Hence, the hospitals involved agreed to an orderly transition of the initiative (which had already commenced) to minimise any disruption to the patients involved and make best use of the patient appointments already held, while working within a budget now provided directly to public hospitals.

Of the 1,871 patient referrals from Waterford to Cappagh, 1,623 patients had their treatment completed at Cappagh. The remaining 248 will now have their treatment provided by Waterford. I am advised that those patients who had been scheduled for either an outpatient appointment or a procedure at Cappagh are being rescheduled for appointments and treatment at Waterford and the hospital is currently writing to these patients, advising them that their care needs will be seen to as expeditiously as possible.

In relation to the particular query raised, I have asked the Health Service Executive to investigate the situation and respond directly to the Deputy.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (440)

John McGuinness

Question:

440. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health his plans to allow coeliacs obtain gluten free products on the medical card; if these coeliacs on medical cards and the elderly will be given special consideration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43574/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In the current financial environment the Health Service Executive (HSE) faces a continuing challenge to deliver services in a way that will minimise any adverse impact on patients and continue to protect, as far as possible, the most vulnerable citizens. Unfortunately, as a result it has become necessary for the HSE to suspend certain products from its list of items reimbursable under the GMS and other community drug schemes. This includes gluten-free products.

Gluten-free products have become more widely available in supermarkets in recent years and tend to be significantly cheaper than products sold through community pharmacies. A Supplementary Welfare Allowance Adult Diet Supplement may be awarded by the Department of Social Protection to eligible persons. Persons wishing to apply for this allowance can do so by completing an application form which can be downloaded at the following link: http://www.welfare.ie/EN/Forms/Documents/swa9.pdf.

For persons who are not awarded a Diet Supplement, monies spent on gluten-free foods can be taken into account for tax purposes.

Primary Care Centres Provision

Questions (441)

Gerald Nash

Question:

441. Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the timeframe for completion of two primary care centre projects (details provided) in County Meath; the progress to date in advancing the projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43595/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Delivery of health infrastructure is a service delivery issue. Therefore your question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (442)

Seán Kyne

Question:

442. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Health if the over 70s medical card provisions will be amended to cover the cost of the medical examination which is required for all persons aged over 70 years when applying for a driving licence which must be renewed every three years. [43599/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, a general practitioner (GP) is expected to provide his/her patients who hold medical cards or GP visit cards with all proper and necessary treatment of a kind generally undertaken by a GP.

The contract between the HSE and GPs under the GMS Scheme stipulates that fees are not paid to GPs by the HSE in respect of certain medical certificates which may be required, for example, "under the Social Welfare Acts or for the purposes of insurance or assurance policies or for the issue of driving licences". There are no plans at present to amend the GMS contract in this regard.

Consultation fees charged by general practitioners to private patients and to GMS patients outside the terms of the GMS contract are a matter of private contract between the clinicians and the patients. While I have no role in relation to such fees, I would expect clinicians to have regard to the overall economic situation in setting their fees.

HSE Reports

Questions (443)

Billy Timmins

Question:

443. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health if recommendations in the Health Service Executive report into the death of a person (details supplied) have been implemented in all hospitals; if so, when and the way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43606/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am determined that the recommendations of the HSE inquiry into the death of Tania McCabe and her infant son Zach at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in 2007, and the recently published HIQA Report of the care and treatment provided to Ms. Halappanavar, will be fully implemented and that any actions required will be implemented across our health services. To ensure this, I have written to the Chairman of the Board of HIQA requesting that the Authority ensures that the monitoring of progress against the recommendations of the HIQA Report of the care and treatment provided to Ms. Halappanavar is a priority as part of its monitoring programme against the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare. I have also written to the Director General of the HSE giving further directions on how progress on the implementation of the recommendations should be monitored and reported. The process for implementing recommendations will also address any outstanding issues arising from the HSE inquiry into the death of Tania McCabe and her infant son Zach.

I am determined that out of the sad loss of these young women our whole health system will learn lessons that will ensure that it provides safe, patient-centred care.

Driving Test Regulations

Questions (444)

Billy Timmins

Question:

444. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding driving test charges in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43199/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The operation of the driver testing service is a matter for the Road Safety Authority, and I have referred the question to them for direct answer.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Road Safety Issues

Questions (445, 446)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

445. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to make it compulsory for children to wear bicycle helmets when cycling. [43066/13]

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Eoghan Murphy

Question:

446. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to make it compulsory for cyclists to have working lights on the front and back of their bicycles. [43067/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 445 and 446 together.

It is long-standing Government policy to recommend and promote the wearing of safety helmets by cyclists in general. 

However, opinion is divided internationally on whether the wearing of helmets is best achieved through statutory requirements or through other strategies.  Making helmets compulsory would raise a number of difficulties.  In particular it would be necessary to have an enforcement system, with penalties for cycling without a helmet. The matter was considered during the preparation of the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020.  Although the Strategy strongly favours encouraging the use of helmets, it stopped short of recommending making their wearing compulsory. 

Promoting the wearing of cycle helmets is currently achieved by educational and publicity campaigns rather than by a punitive approach to the issue, particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle.  Consequently, I have no plans at present to make the wearing of bicycle safety helmets a legal requirement.

In the matter of lights, it is already a requirement to have lights at the front and rear of bicycles.  This is set out in Regulation 29 of the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations, 1963 (S.I. No. 189 of 1963).  The Regulations require both front and rear lights to be ‘duly lit’, therefore the lights must be in working order, as suggested by the Deputy.

Rural Transport Programme Funding

Questions (447)

Dan Neville

Question:

447. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will continue to be provided in respect of a rural bus service (details supplied). [43088/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister of State for Public and Commuter Transport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to the Rural Transport Programme (RTP). Since the 1 April 2012, the NTA has been assigned responsibility for managing the RTP and also has responsibility for implementing the recently announced restructuring of the Programme.

Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Railway Safety Issues

Questions (448)

Robert Troy

Question:

448. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consult with Iarnród Éireann regarding the standard level of time that gates must remain closed before and after a train; if he will ensure that the gates in Multyfarnham County Westmeath are running according to the standard time period. [43096/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Roadworthiness Testing

Questions (449)

Arthur Spring

Question:

449. Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason for the rise in fees on 7 October 2013 for commercial vehicle road-worthiness testing; and if the rise was publicised in advance. [43100/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The reforms brought about by the Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness (CVR) Programme in delivering an enhanced testing system for Road Transport Operators as well as the establishment of a Road Safety levy to help create a safer road network have necessitated an increase in test fees for commercial vehicles.  This increase also reflects the cost to the RSA of implementing the enhanced CVR Programme supported by software specifically developed for that purpose.

From October 7 the fee for the annual testing of commercial vehicles will incorporate both the current Certificate of Roadworthiness fee as well as the road safety levy.  There are no changes to re-test fees.

The schedule of new test fees for various classes of vehicles was published in national newspapers on October 3 and 6 last.

Ferry Services Provision

Questions (450)

Áine Collins

Question:

450. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the EU or national incentives there may be for entrepreneurs who are investigating the possibility of establishing a ferry link between Cork and Gizon in northern Spain to facilitate the large volume of freight and tourist traffic that currently have to drive on French and English roads. [43125/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department, through the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO), can support and assist those wishing to establish new shipping services by providing them with expert market intelligence and analysis. The Irish market currently offers a diverse range of viable maritime links in and out of the State.  All ferry companies servicing those routes are private commercial companies and their services are market driven. Any new initiatives to enhance connectivity or develop new routes must be market driven as government funding of  ports or international shipping services would be contrary to EU State Aid and Competition Law.

In relation to EU initiatives, the EU's Marco Polo programme which provided an avenue of funding for shipping operators ceases this year. The 2013 call for proposals was published on 26 March 2013 with a deadline for the submission of proposals of 23 August 2013. There is no indication currently whether this programme will be replaced with a similar programme. However, the European Parliament and the Council are finalising the Regulation on Union guidelines for the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) and its associated financing regulation the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). These regulations are due to be published soon and will enter into force in 2014. The TEN-T guidelines and the Connecting Europe facility establish the priorities for European funding of transport infrastructure.

Motorways of the sea represent the maritime dimension of the TEN-T guidelines. The guidelines define what maritime transport infrastructure may be eligible for co-funding under CEF and the guidelines outline certain criteria for ports. Both the Port of Cork and the Port of Gizon are designated as CORE ports under the regulation and may be are eligible for funding. Further information is available on the website www.tentea.ec.eupopa.eu.

Tourism Promotion

Questions (451)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

451. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if Fáilte Ireland will outline the funding that has been made available to festivals throughout the country under their regional festivals scheme fund from 2011 to date in 2013; if he will detail the amount that has been allocated for 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43167/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The matter raised is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland.  I have referred the Deputy's Question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Projects Status

Questions (452)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

452. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the National Roads Authority will provide an update on the progress that has been made to date on the N11 upgrade project between Arklow and Rathnew in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43173/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

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