Haddington Road Agreement Implementation

Questions (609, 623, 624)

Ciara Conway

Question:

609. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Health if any representative lobby groups from the Health Service Executive have sought exemptions from the Haddington Road agreement; if any such exemptions have been granted within the HSE and are they being paid over the threshold of current pay levels; if he will provide further details in relation to this; if he will confirm whether these extra payments were approved and by whom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4914/14]

View answer

Ciara Conway

Question:

623. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Health if the Haddington Road agreement is being implemented for all pay grades in the Health Service Executive; if there are any positions outside of this; if he will provide details of these; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4911/14]

View answer

Ciara Conway

Question:

624. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Health if any representative lobby groups have sought exemptions from the Haddington Road agreement; if any such exemptions have been granted and are they being paid over the threshold of current pay levels; if he will provide further details in relation to this and if he will confirm whether these extra payments were approved and by whom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4912/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 609, 623 and 624 together.

A number of representative bodies have sought clarification of provisions set out in the Haddington Road Agreement on behalf of their members. This is in accordance with standard industrial relation practices and is provided for in the agreement. Under the Agreement the pay of most consultants was cut in accordance with the provisions applying to all staff earning over €65,000. The only exceptions are those recruited at the 30% rate reduced from October 2012. The Agreement specified that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform would have regard to the 30% reduction in salary applied to new entrant consultants from October 2012, and the substantial inequity that would thereby arise were these consultants subject to the Haddington Road reductions in remuneration. The Haddington Road Agreement is being implemented for all pay grades in the Health Service Executive. There have been no exemptions granted other than those that are specifically provided for in the Agreement.

Drug Treatment Programmes Policy

Questions (610, 664)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

610. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Health his views on the concentration of methadone clinics in the city centre and social order issues that arise as a result of same; the negative impact this has on those visiting the city, as well as on tourism businesses operating in the city centre. [5314/14]

View answer

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

664. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Health if the Health Service Executive is considering changing its policy of concentrating methadone clinics in the city centre, particularly in tourist areas; and if it is considering alternatives such as mobile clinics. [5312/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 610 and 664 together.

The HSE provides opioid substitution (mainly methadone) in a number of treatment settings to meet the needs of individual drug users. These settings include:

- primary care through GPs and community pharmacies;

- satellite clinics that facilitate opioid substitution provision through community pharmacies;

- treatment centres where opioid substitution treatment is dispensed on site; and

- residential rehabilitation facilities. 

The HSE recognises that drug treatment is best provided at the lowest level of complexity, matching the patient's needs and as close to the patient's home as possible. There are currently 54 clinics within the four Dublin Local Authority Areas of which only 6 are based in the city centre at:

- City Clinic, Amiens Street

- Bride St

- Merchants Quay Project

- National Drug Treatment Centre, Pearse Street

- Castle St Clinic

- Cork St Clinic

The HSE Addiction Service continues to co-operate with the local community representatives of the North and South Inner City and the local Gardaí in minimising any negative public order issues that may arise in the vicinity of its treatment centres. There are no plans to introduce alternatives to the opioid treatments services outlined above such as mobile clinics.

Tobacco Industry Lobbying

Questions (611)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

611. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a report (details supplied) which highlighted that the influential Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America in Washington has joined the lobbying campaign against proposals by his Department to ban tobacco advertising on cigarette packets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5397/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy will know, and as I have made clear on a number of occasions, I am fully aware that there will be a range of interests which will oppose the introduction of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013. However, as the Deputy will also be aware, Government approval was received on 19 November 2013 for the publication of the General Scheme of the Bill and to proceed with the drafting of the legislation based on this General Scheme.

There is a wealth of evidence on the effects of tobacco packaging in general and on perceptions and reactions to standardised packaging which supports the introduction of the measure. Research shows that standardised packaging will:

- Increase the noticeability, recall and impact of health warning messages;

- Reduce the ability of packaging to mislead consumers to believe that some products may be less harmful than others; and

- Reduce the attractiveness of the tobacco product, for both adults and children.

Finally, I would like to point out to the Deputy that tobacco consumption is today the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland, killing over 5,200 people a year; that smokers die on average 10 years sooner than non-smokers; that one in every two children who experiment with cigarettes goes on to become a smoker, and that one in every two of them will die from a tobacco related disease. In this context, my priority is to reduce the consumption of tobacco across the board, to meet our policy target of making Ireland tobacco free (i.e. with a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%) by 2025.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (612)

Joe Carey

Question:

612. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health the reason for using gross income for the calculation of medical card eligibility for the over 70s and net income for those under 70; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5495/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Automatic eligibility for a medical card for persons aged 70 years and over was difficult to justify in the then economic and fiscal climate. Under the Health Act 2008, automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons aged 70 and over ended on 31 December 2008. Under the arrangements effected by the Act, a revised system of assessment for eligibility was introduced for those 70 years of age and over, based on the significantly higher gross income limits rather than the standard net income thresholds. This advantageous arrangement for persons aged over 70 years has facilitated a much greater share of this cohort qualifying for a medical card compared to the general population as a whole.

In the main, persons in the over-70s age cohort do not have the same outlays and expenses as those under 70 years of age who are assessed on a means basis. Under the standard means tested medical card scheme, allowance may be made for rent/mortgage, travel to work and child care costs. Generally, for the over 70s, mortgages have been cleared, children have been catered for and they would not have travel to work related costs.

However, persons aged 70 or older who are assessed as ineligible under the gross income thresholds may also have their eligibility assessed under the means tested medical card scheme where they face particularly high expenses, e.g., nursing home or medication costs. As I have outlined, this assessment is based on net income and assessable outgoing expenses and the qualifying income thresholds under this scheme are lower than over -70s gross income thresholds.

Furthermore, persons aged over 70 years may still be eligible for a medical card on a discretionary basis where they face undue hardship in arranging medical services as a result of medical or social circumstances.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (613)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

613. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork who has suffered a symphysiotomy has been denied a medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5509/14]

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.

HSE Legal Cases

Questions (614)

Clare Daly

Question:

614. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if there will be further legal action taken regarding the financial irregularities uncovered at an organisation (details supplied) in 2012. [5601/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I refer to previous replies during 2013 on related matters raised by the Deputy concerning the organisation in question. In this regard I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy with an updated position.

Hospital Facilities

Questions (615)

Denis Naughten

Question:

615. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the ICU capacity in each acute hospital; the occupancy rate in these beds in each hospital in 2013; the occupancy rate in each unit on each day between 20 and 24 January 2014; the steps being taken to address capacity problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4851/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to the detailed information requested by the Deputy, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to him directly.

Voluntary Sector Funding

Questions (616)

Dara Calleary

Question:

616. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health the funding options available to a voluntary housing association (details supplied) in County Mayo to assist in covering the costs incurred in providing a meals on wheels service in the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4874/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department administers a National Lottery Discretionary Fund from which once-off grants are paid to community and voluntary organisations, providing a range of health related services. If an organisation wishes to make an application for National Lottery Funding they should send in a formal application. Detailed procedures, along with the application form are set out on the Department's website at www.doh.ie.

Hospital Staff Recruitment

Questions (617)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

617. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Health the steps that have been taken to employ a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon in the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda; the reason there has been such a delay in recruiting a successful candidate for the post; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4875/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to the particular query raised by the Deputy, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to him directly.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (618)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

618. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Health the number of children on the waiting list for orthopaedic surgery in the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4876/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

HIQA Investigations

Questions (619)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

619. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health if the Health Information Quality Authority investigation into ambulance service response times will specifically examine the death of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal on Monday, 30 December 2013; and if he will indicate the date on which those investigations are scheduled to commence and be completed and the report and recommendations issued. [4889/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The tragic incident referred to in the Deputy's question was the subject of a detailed review by the National Ambulance Service. This is standard procedure in events involving the NAS where there is an adverse outcome. Following the review in this particular instance, the NAS established, with Letterkenny General Hospital, an escalation process to address any capacity, activity or other challenges which may impede service delivery.

In general, the Health Information and Quality Authority does not investigate individual incidents. At my request, the Authority has agreed to bring forward the review of pre - hospital emergency care which had been due to commence in Q2 2014.  The planning for that review has now commenced and it is anticipated that assessment of the services will start in Q1.  HIQA will report on the findings and issue recommendations as soon as the review is completed.

Nursing Home Accommodation

Questions (620)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

620. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry is on a list to be admitted to Ashling House; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4901/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service issue this question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Questions (621)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

621. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4903/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Health Services Staff Data

Questions Nos. 623 and 624 answered with Question No. 609.

Questions (622)

Ciara Conway

Question:

622. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Health if he will provide details on the number of vacant consultant posts throughout the country; the specific positions involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4910/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The detailed information sought by the Deputy in relation to health service staff is a matter for the HSE and, accordingly, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to her.

Questions Nos. 623 and 624 answered with Question No. 609.

Hospital Staff Recruitment

Questions (625)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

625. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health when the position of clinical psychologist, covering the Ballyfermot, Palmerston area will be filled in Cherry Orchard Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4923/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service issue this question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Appeals

Questions (626)

John McGuinness

Question:

626. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if he will insist on an early response to an appeal for an increased contribution under the nursing home support scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will expedite the process [4935/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Applications

Questions (627)

John McGuinness

Question:

627. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if the fair deal scheme will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if he will expedite a response [4937/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Medical Card Applications

Questions (628)

Finian McGrath

Question:

628. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4950/14]

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.

Health Services Provision

Questions (629)

Finian McGrath

Question:

629. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the reason a service was cut in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4951/14]

View answer

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.

Medical Card Reviews

Questions (630)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

630. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health if medical cards will be reinstated in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4955/14]

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.