Health Services Staff Training

Questions (203)

Terence Flanagan


203. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if any extra medical training will be provided to medical professionals in order to ensure the correct implementation of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act; if so, the type of training involved; the cost of same; the numbers undergoing this training; if this training will be conducted here or abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51000/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The main purpose of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 is to restate the general prohibition on abortion in Ireland while regulating access to lawful termination of pregnancy in accordance with the X case and the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C v Ireland case. Its purpose is to confer procedural rights on a woman who believes she has a life-threatening condition, so that she can have certainty as to whether she requires this treatment or not. The Act provides for existing rights, i.e. within the Constitutional provisions and the Supreme Court judgment in the X case, and it does not confer any new substantive rights to a termination of pregnancy.

One of the requirements for a medical procedure to be lawful under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 in non-emergency circumstances is that, following certification, it must be carried out by an obstetrician on the Specialist Division of the Medical Council Register at an appropriate location. In this context, it is not considered that additional training is required.

Hospital Appointment Delays

Questions (204)

Jack Wall


204. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive an appointment date at Tallaght Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51001/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

For 2013, a maximum waiting time target of 12 months has been set for a first time consultant-led outpatient appointment and this is reflected in the HSE Service Plan. The SDU and the NTPF are working closely with hospitals towards achievement of the maximum waiting time. Should a patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he or she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and hospital involved. In relation to the specific hospital appointment query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Patient Transport Provision

Questions (205)

John McGuinness


205. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health the reason the transport arrangements which were in place for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny have now been ended by the Health Service Executive; if he will insist on this service for the patient being restored; and if he will expedite a reply. [51022/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Health Insurance Cover

Questions (206)

Dominic Hannigan


206. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Health his Department's definition of a standard private health insurance policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51037/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department oversees the maintenance of a competitive and sustainable private health insurance market, under the provisions of the Health Insurance Acts 1994 to 2012, and monitors developments on an ongoing basis, to ensure that the market is regulated appropriately in the transition to a market-based Universal Health Insurance system. As of 1 October, there are 258 health insurance products on the market, of which 34 provided non advanced cover. The proliferation of plans available on the market and the increasing segmentation of the market, due to strategies adopted by the commercial providers, is of growing concern to me.

In this context, there are a number of options under consideration to help address the increasing number of plans on the market and the decreasing membership of the private health insurance market. One such measure is the possible introduction of a standard plan, supported by an effective Risk Equalisation Scheme and optional risk-rated additions. It is envisaged that a standard plan would provide an appropriate, defined level of health insurance cover, beyond which Risk Equalisation would not apply, and would be intended to provide greater clarity to consumers seeking to easily identify and purchase a health insurance product which provides a suitable level of cover. There is considerable work required to assess the impact of such a measure, including a thorough examination of the specific appropriate benefits and content that should appropriately be covered by a standard plan. These and other regulatory issues will be examined further by my Department in the coming months, to ascertain their merits and potential benefit to the private health insurance market.

Symphysiotomy Reports

Questions (207)

Gerry Adams


207. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health further to replies to parliamentary questions in which he said that he expected to bring forward proposals on symphysiotomy to the Government, when these proposals will be brought forward; if the Government has decided how best to proceed in relation to this issue; when he will release the name of the judge he will appoint to meet with the women concerned to facilitate decisions on how best to bring closure to the issue; and the length of time he expects the mediation process to take. [51047/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I received the approval of the Government yesterday to appoint Judge Yvonne Murphy to assist in finding closure for women who have been affected by a symphysiotomy procedure. The Judge will work with key parties; including representatives of the women, the State Claims Agency and insurance companies in proposing a just outcome. Judge Murphy's work will take around eight weeks, at which time she will submit her independent report to me. I will then revert to Government with detailed proposals so that a decision can be taken as early as possible in the New Year. At that stage Prof Oonagh Walsh's Report will be published.

The Terms of Reference for the work of Judge Yvonne Murphy are:

1. To examine all relevant reports and information relating to symphysiotomy.

2. To meet women who have undergone surgical symphysiotomy procedures to assess what, in their opinion, would bring closure for them.

3. To assess, in conjunction with the State Claims Agency (SCA) and other relevant bodies, the relative liabilities of insurers, indemnifiers and/or other parties in relation to cases pending, or which may arise linked to surgical symphysiotomy procedures.

4. To meet insurers, indemnifiers and/or other parties in relation to such liabilities and to explore and negotiate a quantum representing a fair contribution towards a fund which would form part of an ex-gratia scheme to which Government would also contribute in order to establish an ex-gratia scheme and put closure on the issue for the women involved.

5. To assess the merits and cost to the State of proceeding with an ex-gratia scheme relative to allowing the court process to proceed.

6. To report to the Minister within a period of 8 working weeks on the outcome of these deliberations, with recommendations on the next steps.

I met representatives of the women yesterday with Judge Murphy to assure everyone that she will consult with all relevant parties in an environment where there are no preconceived ideas of what her conclusions might be. In this way her work will be truly independent.

My priority continues to be to ensure that the women who have had this procedure have their health needs comprehensively and professionally met. In this regard, the HSE provides a range of services to women who may be experiencing any adverse effects as a result of undergoing this procedure. These services include the provision of medical cards for the women, the availability of independent clinical advice and the organisation of individual pathways of care and the arrangement of appropriate follow-up. All these services are available on request by the women from the HSE nominated Symphysiotomy Liaison Officers.

Primary Care Centre Provision

Questions (208)

Róisín Shortall


208. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health in respect of the list of primary care centres to be delivered by public private partnership, if he will confirm that it is still the intention that these would be design, build, maintain contracts and that these projects will be delivered in two bundles; and his views on the promised second phase of the programme which was due to be announced before the end of 2012. [51053/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to the potential Primary Care Centres to be delivered under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme, the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) published a Prior Information Notice (PIN) on Friday 15th November 2013 in the Official Journal of the European Union ("OJEU") through the eTenders Public Procurement portal which can be viewed on the website. It is anticipated that the potential Primary Care Centres identified as suitable for the PPP model will be delivered as part of a single PPP contract in this competition with the remaining centres to be procured by the HSE using other procurement means.

The NDFA states that, for and on behalf of the HSE, it intends to procure a PPP for Primary Care Centres to design, build, finance and provide services for the Primary Care Centres concerned. In June this year the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announced Government's intention to roll out a Phase 2 PPP pipeline as a continuation of the Phase 1 Programme, to be announced by the end of 2013.