Audiology Services Provision

Questions (218)

Martin Ferris

Question:

218. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry who has been waiting for more than three years for a hearing aid may expect to receive same. [45180/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive Community Audiology service administers and monitors hearing tests for adults who are at risk for hearing loss. Appointments for the audiology service are sent in a strict chronology according to clinical priorities and date of receipt of referral. The HSE has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Audiology Services Provision

Questions (219)

Martin Ferris

Question:

219. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will have a hearing test for a hearing aid. [45181/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive Community Audiology service administers and monitors hearing tests for adults who are at risk for hearing loss. Appointments for the audiology service are sent in a strict chronology according to clinical priorities and date of receipt of referral. The HSE has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Patient Files

Questions (220)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

220. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health if a person is ordinarily allowed access to their recently deceased partner's medical records, both general practitioner and hospital records (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45184/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Medical Council's "Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners" advises that confidentiality is a fundamental principle of medical ethics and is central to the trust between patients and doctors. Patients are entitled to expect that information about them will be held in confidence. Patient information remains confidential even after death. Therefore, there is no automatic entitlement to releasing medical records to a third party.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Questions (221)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

221. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health his plans regarding making defibrillators more accessible to the public (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45278/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Second Stage of the Public Access to Defibrillators Bill, which sets out the requirement to provide defibrillators in a range of settings and for events which have a regular attendance in excess of 100 persons per day, was passed in the Seanad in June 2013. Approval was granted for the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to undertake a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of a public access defibrillator programme for Ireland. This HTA, when completed, will determine the implementation of the defibrillator programme for Ireland.

Medical Card Reviews

Questions (222)

Tom Fleming

Question:

222. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will expedite a medical card review in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45280/13]

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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 issued to Oireachtas members.

General Medical Services Scheme Administration

Questions (223)

Emmet Stagg

Question:

223. Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the widespread practice by general medical practitioners of charging medical card holders a fee for taking blood for warfarin and other required tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45285/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under paragraph 11 of the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, a general practitioner (GP) shall provide for eligible persons, on behalf of the HSE, all proper and necessary treatment of a kind usually undertaken by a GP and not requiring special skill or experience of a degree or kind which GPs cannot reasonably be expected to possess. Under paragraph 27 of the GMS contract a GP shall not demand or accept any payment or consideration whatsoever from a GMS patient in reward for services provided by him/her under this contract, or for travelling or for other expenses incurred by him/her or for the use of any premises; equipment or instruments in making the services available.

The monitoring and appropriate care of patients receiving anti-coagulation therapy with Warfarin comes within the scope of competence of general practice. Warfarin testing is also available free of charge in hospitals. Warfarin testing is carried out by some GPs as a matter of course in their practices and I welcome this. This provides their patients with an option of receiving this service locally in a primary care setting rather than attending an acute hospital for the service. In relation to other blood tests, in circumstances where the taking of blood is necessary to either (a) assist in the process of diagnosing a patient or (b) monitor a diagnosed condition, the GP may not charge that patient if they are eligible for free GMS services under the Health Act, 1970, as amended.

The HSE has written to GP contract holders and clarified the position in relation to this matter and has also communicated its position to the Irish Medical Organisation. Any alleged instances of eligible patients being requested to pay for a routine service of this nature from their own limited resources is viewed as a serious matter by the HSE and the Department. I have been advised by the HSE that its Local Health Offices will fully investigate any reported incidents of eligible patients being charged for phlebotomy services which form part of the investigation and necessary treatment of patients' symptoms or conditions. In such cases, where a medical card holder or a GP visit card holder has been inappropriately charged for the taking of blood, the HSE will make deductions from those GPs' routine GMS payments.

Officials in my Department are in consultation with the HSE with a view to drawing up a new GMS contract. The appropriate arrangements in relation to anti-coagulation therapy and phlebotomy services will be considered as part of the new contract.

Medical Card Reviews

Questions (224)

Tom Fleming

Question:

224. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will expedite a medical card review in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45288/13]

View answer

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 issued to Oireachtas members.