Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (527)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

527. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons by county that are currently awaiting MRI scans; the number of those waiting over six months; those waiting over 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14834/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to the detailed information requested by the Deputy, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to him directly.

Home Help Service Provision

Questions (528)

Dara Calleary

Question:

528. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health his proposed changes to the contracts of home helps; if he agrees that it is both unfair and unworkable to enforce changes that require full-time home helpers to be available five out of seven days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; if he agrees that such an arrangement will result in working hours being banked; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14886/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Key features of the Haddington Road Agreement include the introduction of extended working days, substantially reducing spending on overtime through cuts in the applicable overtime rates and making the most cost-effective use of the additional working-hours provided for in the Agreement. There must be a major focus on achieving savings and efficiencies in front-line services, including those provided by home helps, in ways which do not impact adversely on the level of services provided to clients and patients. In relation to specific developments in home helps working arrangements, as these are service matters, the question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Departmental Funding

Questions (529)

John O'Mahony

Question:

529. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Health the amount of funding allocated by his Department to County Mayo, the list of projects that benefitted in 2011 to 2013, inclusive, and to date in 2014 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14893/14]

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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. Details of the organisations that received lottery funding in each of the past five years are available on my Department's website at www.doh.ie. No lottery funding has yet been awarded in 2014 to any organisation in County Mayo.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (530)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

530. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if all documentation supplied in respect of an application for a medical card will be returned in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14921/14]

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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.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (531)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

531. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health if, in cases of persons who have a medical condition that is chronic and extremely unlikely to change for an extended period of time, it is intended to make changes to the rules governing the granting of medical cards to allow medical professionals to indicate such a prognosis to the Health Service Executive and to require the HSE to take such an indication into account before determination. [14924/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), there is no entitlement to a medical card based on having a particular disease or illness (nor has there been previously). The Deputy will also be aware that medical cards are provided to persons who, under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), are, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive, unable without undue hardship to arrange GP services and other health services for themselves and their dependants. The assessment for a medical card is, therefore, determined primarily by reference to the means, including the income and expenditure, of the applicant and his or her partner and dependants.

If an applicant's means are above the financial thresholds as set out in the national guidelines, the HSE routinely examines for indications of medical or social circumstances which might result in undue financial hardship in arranging medical services and, exercising discretion, may grant eligibility for a medical card on this basis. Persons who have been granted a medical card under the financial hardship provisions of the medical card scheme are required, when the subject of a review assessment, to submit all relevant and up-to-date details. This is necessary so that the HSE can make a correct determination of continuing eligibility. Where an applicant indicates on a review application that medical evidence has been previously submitted relating to a life-long medical condition, and this has been confirmed by the HSE, the HSE will not request further medical evidence in this regard. The applicant will, however, be required to submit all other information material to a review assessment. There are no proposals to change these processes.

Medical Card Appeals

Questions (532)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

532. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the reason for delay in processing an appeal in respect of a determination of entitlement to a medical card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14926/14]

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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.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Questions (533)

John O'Mahony

Question:

533. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a medical appliance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14928/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service related matter, the HSE has been asked to examine the specific query raised by the Deputy and to reply to him as soon as possible.

Primary Care Reimbursement Service Payments

Questions (534)

Finian McGrath

Question:

534. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding paying for medicines in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14930/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE is responsible for the administration of the primary care schemes, therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Mental Health Services Provision

Questions (535)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

535. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on the issue that both staffing and funding for mental health services fall below what was recommended in A Vision for Change; if he will address the issue of staffing at the end of September 2013 amounting to 9,065 whole-time equivalents but falling short of 12,240 as proposed in A Vision for Change; if he will address the total staffing number which represents a net loss to mental health services of 932 staff since March 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14695/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

This Government has prioritised the reform of our mental health services in line with A Vision for Change and is committed in particular to the delivery of more and better quality care in the community. Towards this end, funding of €90 million and some 1,100 posts have been provided since 2012 to develop our community mental health services and suicide prevention resources. The budget for specialist mental health services in 2014 is approximately €766 million which represents approximately 6.2% of the overall frontline health service budget. Approximately 90% of mental health problems are dealt with in primary care and some 30% of people who attend primary care have a mental health problem. Expenditure on these services is not captured in the mental health budget.

A Vision for Change indicates a requirement for 10,647 WTE staff which when adjusted for the 2011 population census is 12,240 WTE staff by 2016. However, given the changed economic circumstances since the publication of Vision in 2006, the Government has decided that the numbers employed across the public service must be reduced in order to meet its fiscal and budgetary targets. The health sector must make its contribution to that reduction. However, the HSE can make staff appointments once it remains within its overall employment ceiling and has the financial resources to do so. The HSE Mental Health Division, in its Service Plan for 2014 commits to the development of an initial workforce plan for 2014 to bring greater certainty around essential replacements and the streamlining of recruitment to allow for more local control and specialisation where appropriate.

While staffing levels in the mental health service have fallen there are positives that must be acknowledged. Many of the staff numbers lost were supporting the excessive numbers of beds which are no longer part of the service user recovery focused, modern, community-based service model for mental health. The overall reduction in numbers has been mitigated due to the priority ring-fenced Programme for Government investments in 2012, 2013 and again in 2014 which has allowed the HSE to begin to re-balance the staff skill mix in mental health to introduce new staff in the historically under represented disciplines recommended in A Vision for Change i.e. psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.

Recruitment of the additional posts 890 posts approved in 2012 and 2013 is continuing with 95% of the 2012 posts filled as at the end of January 2014 and the recruitment process complete for 51% of the 2013 posts, with a further 20% in the final stages in the recruitment process. These posts continue to come on stream and are targeted to be in place by the end of Quarter 2 of 2014. Decisions on the breakdown of the new 2014 posts (between 250 - 280 posts) will be made following a business case and analysis process which is currently being undertaken in the HSE. This will ensure that the required professional grades are recruited to fill identified service gaps. Active recruitment for these posts will commence in the second Quarter of 2014, with all targeted to be in place by the end of the year.

Hospital Appointment Delays

Question No. 537 answered with Question No. 515.

Questions (536)

John McGuinness

Question:

536. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 583 of 22 October 2013, in relation to an assessment and operation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny, where it states that an appointment will be given before the end of December, when this person will be given an appointment in view of the fact that this is now urgent and an appointment should be given immediately. [14936/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to the Deputy's further question on this particular patient query, I have again asked the Health Service Executive to respond to him directly.

Question No. 537 answered with Question No. 515.

Primary Medical Certificates Applications

Questions (538)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

538. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if and when a primary medical certificate will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14963/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Primary medical certificates are awarded to qualifying individuals by the Health Service Executive. Accordingly the Department has asked the HSE to inform the Deputy directly of the current position in relation to the application of the named person for a primary medical certificate.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (539, 540)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

539. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the length of time Coolock health centre, Dublin, has been without an early intervention team; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14966/14]

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Terence Flanagan

Question:

540. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that health centres are not meeting the time requirements regarding assessments of need as outlined under the Disability Act 2005 (details supplied); if he is concerned that this is the case; the steps he will take to address this urgent matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14967/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 539 and 540 together.

There has been a significant rise in overall activity in recent years in respect of the children encompassed under the process of assessment under Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005. This process provides for an assessment of the needs of eligible applicants, occasioned by their disability, to be commenced within three months of receipt of an application and completed within a further three months.

Although the HSE recognises that it faces significant challenges in respect of meeting the statutory time-frames which apply to the assessment of need process given the number and complexity of cases, it is taking a number of measures to address the issue. While any delay in assessment or intervention for any child is not desirable, the assessment process under the Disability Act can take place in parallel with any intervention which is identified as necessary. The HSE has issued guidance to its staff that where there is a delay in the assessment process, this should not affect the delivery of necessary and appropriate interventions identified for a particular child. In addition, targeted action plans have been put in place since early 2011. Measures have included: prioritising assessments, holding additional clinics, contracting the private sector to conduct assessments and reconfiguring resources to target areas of greatest need.

Following the publication of a report commissioned from the National Disability Authority by the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive, a major emphasis is being placed on reconfiguring disability services for children into integrated multidisciplinary geographically-based early-intervention and school-aged teams as part of the implementation of the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People Programme. This involves the roll-out of a new model of service, the objective of which is to bring about equity and consistency, with a clear pathway for children with disabilities and their families to services, regardless of where they live, what school they go to or the nature of their difficulty. The Programme is a key priority for the HSE in 2014 with an additional €4m allocated to assist in its implementation.

My Department has asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the detailed operational issues that he has raised

Nursing Education

Questions (541)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

541. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health the reason United States nursing qualifications are not recognised here; if a person with 20 years nursing experience in the US can complete any short course to become eligible to nurse here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14979/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The information regarding nursing qualifications is a matter for the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). I have forwarded your query to the Board for direct response.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (542)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

542. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the position regarding medical card eligibility (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14982/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

If one member of a couple is aged 70 or older, they will both qualify for a medical card if their combined gross income does not exceed €900 per week. If one member of a couple is aged 70 or older, they will both qualify for a GP visit card if their combined gross income is over €900 per week but does not exceed €1,400 per week.