Foreign Adoptions

Questions (494)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

494. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will advise on progress towards a bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Russia; the current status of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11860/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Efforts are ongoing in my Department in relation to a bilateral agreement on intercountry adoption between Ireland and the Russian Federation. Following my invitation to the Russian Ministry of Education and Science in August 2013, a delegation of Russian officials travelled to Ireland in October 2013 for discussions on a bilateral agreement on intercountry adoption between Ireland and the Russian Federation. The meeting of the 22nd October 2013 was very positive and detailed discussions took place between the Russian officials and officials from my Department, the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the HSE. At the meeting significant progress was made and my Department, in early November 2013, forwarded to the Russian side further detailed proposals based on the discussions which took place. Following this my Department prepared revised draft wording on a number of specific points which were recently forwarded to the Russian Authorities. In transmitting these revisions to the Russian authorities it was suggested that should these revisions be acceptable to the Russian Federation, it would be useful for both sides to meet again for further discussions.

Departmental Legal Costs

Questions (495)

Denis Naughten

Question:

495. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will set out in tabular form, by reference to each named firm, the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by her Department to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered to it; if she will provide in a similar format the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by State bodies including commercial or non-commercial and regulatory bodies established by or under her Department, to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered to it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11866/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

It is the policy of my Department, and bodies under the aegis of my Department, to minimise legal fees to the greatest extent possible, and to engage external law firms only as the need arises and where the required professional expertise is not available in-house or through another state body. All contracts entered into by my Department must conform to the relevant laws and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidelines on Public Procurement. My Department did not pay any law firm in or outside the state in 2013 for services rendered to the Department. The data provided in the following table details fees paid to law firms in 2013 for services rendered to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children:

Department/State Body

Law Firm

Fees paid over in 2013

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

Augustus Cullen Law

€7,703

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

Ronan Daly Jermyn

€29,836.11

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

St John Solicitors

1,109.46

Under the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013, the Family Support Agency (FSA) and the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB), both of whom were agencies under my Department in 2013, were dissolved and the service provision for these State bodies transferred to the new Child and Family Agency with effect from 1st January, 2014. Records relating to the transactions by the FSA and the NEWB with regard to their legal fees are currently held by the Child and Family Agency and I am requesting that that Agency forward the information directly to the Deputy as soon as possible. I have also requested of the Adoption Authority of Ireland that the information requested, insofar as it applies to that body, will be passed to the Deputy.

Adoption Legislation

Questions (496)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

496. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in view of recent comments, her plans to bring forward legislation affording adopted persons automatic access to their birth certificates and files. [11951/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department is continuing to work on the Heads of Bill for the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill and I hope to be in a position to seek Government approval to publish the Heads of Bill as soon as possible. As I have stated on a number of occasions it is important to note that complex legal and constitutional issues have arisen in the drafting of the Bill. A particular challenge has arisen in the attempt to reconcile an adopted person’s request for information about his or her identity with the right to privacy of his or her birth parent where consent has not been provided. My Department is continuing to consult with the Office of the Attorney General on this and on a number of related issues. One reason for the discussions with the Attorney General is to continue to tease out precisely how this can be done in the context of what I must state is extremely strong legal advice about the constitutional protection of the rights of the natural mother to privacy. I continue to explore how far the Government can go in building into legislation that right of the adopted person to get access to information without breaching the Constitution. This is the reason it is taking this length of time to draft the Heads of Bill. I intend to submit the Heads of Bill for Government approval as soon as these issues have been addressed.

I am not in a position to give a comprehensive account of the provisions of the proposed legislation until the Heads of Bill have been agreed by Government. Once approved by Government, the Heads of Bill will be sent to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for its detailed consideration. The process of sending the Heads of Bill to that Committee will ensure that the provisions of the proposed legislation will be subject to public scrutiny and it is of course open to that Committee to invite and encourage submissions from all interested parties. In the meantime I am open to any proposals or suggestions in relation to policy on this matter that assists in achieving as much access as possible in a manner that is legally and constitutionally sound.

Education Welfare Service Staff

Questions (497)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

497. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of educational welfare officers in Dublin; and their locations. [12195/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

As the Deputy may be aware the functions and operational responsibilities of the former National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) are now part of the new Child and Family Agency, which was established on 1 January 2014. Since this date the staff of the former NEWB, including its Educational Welfare Officers, have transferred to the new Agency. Within the Child and Family Agency, the statutory Education Welfare Service (EWS) has specific responsibility for the Agency's general function to ensure that each child attends a recognised school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education. The Agency has advised me that the number of Educational Welfare Officers in Dublin, and their locations, are as follows:

Number of Educational Welfare Officers

Location (generally by postal district)

2

Dublin 11

1

Dublin 9

1

Dublin 15

1

Dublin north County

3

Dublin 24

1

Dublin 8 / 10

1

Dublin 8

2

Dublin 22

1

Dublin 7 / 9

1

Dublin 4 / 14

1

Dublin 2 / 6 / 16

1

Dublin 12

1

Dublin 1

1

Dublin 20

1

Dublin 13

19

In addition to these posts, there are 3.5 Senior Educational Welfare Officers and 1 Regional Manager employed in the greater Dublin region. To ensure continuity of service and a targeted approach to areas and cases of greatest need, all locations where an Educational Welfare Officer is not assigned or where a leave event exists receive a service provided by the Senior Educational Welfare Officer, responding to the most critical situations where children are out of school or have no place.

The Child and Family Agency will deliver an integrated approach to educational welfare services through the continued reform of work practices in its three service strands, namely; the Education Welfare Service; Home School Community Liaison Programme (402 school-based co-ordinators); and School Completion Programme (€24.756m in funding provided to support 124 school cluster projects and related initiatives). This integrated model of service is designed to provide an enhanced response to the needs of children, families and schools.

The decision by Government to amalgamate the NEWB and its services into the new Child and Family Agency broadens the focus of the Agency and tackles educational welfare as a key outcome for children in its own right and as a positive contributor to other outcomes. It will provide opportunities for more effective working amongst the range of professionals involved in directly supporting children and their families.

Treatment Abroad Scheme

Questions (498)

Billy Timmins

Question:

498. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health the position regarding TAS funding in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11988/14]

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.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (499)

Finian McGrath

Question:

499. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [11542/14]

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.

Hospital Appointments Administration

Questions (500)

Denis Naughten

Question:

500. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the number of persons currently on the waiting list for an orthopaedic appointment at Roscommon County Hospital; the current waiting time for an initial orthopaedic consultation at Roscommon County Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11545/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Medical Card Applications

Questions (501)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

501. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [11549/14]

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.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (502)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

502. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11553/14]

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 Access

Questions (503)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

503. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health if correspondence from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 regarding the chiropody scheme will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11557/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Community chiropody is a discretionary service, which the Health Service Executive endeavours to provide on a prioritised basis within the context of available resources and competing needs for such resources. The HSE has been asked to examine the query raised by the Deputy and to reply to him as soon as possible.

Hospital Appointment Status

Questions (504)

Finian McGrath

Question:

504. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding an operation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [11562/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have referred the Deputy's further question in this matter to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to him.

Graduate Nursing Scheme

Questions (505, 520)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

505. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health his views on whether it is acceptable for final year student nurses and midwives to work 39 hours per week on 13-hour shifts for €6.29 per hour; his plans for the remuneration of student nurses and midwives in the coming years. [11565/14]

View answer

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

520. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health if he can confirm that student nurses and midwives in their final year of college work a 39-hour week in 13-hour shifts for €6.29 per hour, below the minimum wage of €8.50 per hour and the average industrial wage of €21 per hour; if he will confirm if it is his intention to reduce this further in the coming years and eventually phase it out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11665/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 505 and 520 together.

Fourth year undergraduate student nurses undertake a 36-week rostered placement as a key part of their degree programme. When doing so, they are not qualified nurses and require supervision. The following pay scales have been sanctioned, with the agreement of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, with effect from 1 July 2013. Higher scales have been sanctioned for Mental Health Student Nurses undertaking the placement, maintaining previous relativities.

Salary Scales for Student Nurses* undertaking 36 week 4 th Year Clinical Placement

First one-third (12 weeks) - €6.49 per hour

Second one-third (12 weeks) - €6.92 per hour

Final one-third (12 weeks) - €7.79 per hour

*Including Midwifery, Children's and Intellectual Disability.

Salary Scales for Mental Health Student Nurses undertaking 36 week 4 th Year Clinical Placement

First one-third (12 weeks) - €6.64 per hour

Second one-third (12 weeks) - €7.08 per hour

Final one-third (12 weeks) - €7.97 per hour.

The level of pay for this undergraduate placement, split into three 12-week periods, is in accordance with the relevant provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act. There are no plans to revise these scales at present.

Home Help Service Provision

Questions (506)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

506. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health the reason home helps contracted by CLR Home Help for the Health Service Executive Dublin mid-west are being rostered less than the seven hours per week in contravention of the legally binding Labour Court recommendation of 17 September 2013. [11566/14]

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 (507)

Michael Ring

Question:

507. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their medical card application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11575/14]

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.

Hospital Charges

Questions (508, 516)

Clare Daly

Question:

508. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied that the Mater Hospital and possibly others are passing on uncollected debts within a very short space of time to debt collection agencies who are writing to vulnerable citizens in a very threatening way, threatening the sheriff and other tactics which is causing huge stress; and his views on whether such behaviour is appropriate. [11584/14]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

516. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the amount of money paid by each of the Dublin hospitals to debt collection agencies in relation to outstanding hospital charges for each of the past five years; the stage at which an outstanding debt was passed on to debt collection agencies; and his views on whether such a practice is appropriate. [11628/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 508 and 516 together.

In relation to the detailed information requested by the Deputy, as these are service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to her directly.

Hospital Procedures

Questions (509)

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

509. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health where doctors can refer patients for treatment of minor dermatology ailments which are no longer treated at St. James's Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11587/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Hospital Appointment Status

Questions (510)

John O'Mahony

Question:

510. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive an appointment for an operation in University Hospital Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11589/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2013, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the Health Service Executive, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists. In relation to this particular query raised by the Deputy, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy in this matter.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (511)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

511. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if new limits are being introduced for GP cards for over 70s; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11602/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The current income limits for persons over 70 to qualify for GP services are €700 per week for a single applicant and €1400 per week for a couple. There are no proposals to adjust the current income limits.

Nursing Home Accommodation

Questions (512)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

512. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Health in view of the Health Information Quality Authority's statement that additional en-suite bathrooms are required as part of the upgrade works at Ofalia House in Edenderry, County Offaly, if the necessary funding will be made available to ensure that the upgrade works are completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11603/14]

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.