Ambulance Service Provision

Questions (575)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

575. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Health the rationale for the Health Service Executive's proposed merger of the Dublin Fire Brigade with the National Ambulance Service; the cost savings the HSE proposes to make with the merger; the engagement the HSE had with the workers in the Dublin Fire Brigade ambulance service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15241/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to the detailed queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to him directly.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (576)

Tom Fleming

Question:

576. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health the position regarding medical card applications in respect of notice of assessments (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15254/14]

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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.

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Questions (577, 578)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

577. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the reason the Irish Blood Transfusion Service's current policy prevents homosexual men from donating blood when research shows there are no health risks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15255/14]

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Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

578. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health if consideration has been given towards removing the ban on MSM blood donors here since the UK removed this ban in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15256/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 577 and 578 together.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) remit is to provide a safe, reliable, robust blood service to the Irish health system. Blood, and the products derived from it, are an integral facet of healthcare delivery. A major objective of the IBTS is to ensure that it always has the necessary programmes and procedures in place to protect both the donors of blood and the recipients of blood and blood products.

The EU Directive on quality and safety of blood requires that "all necessary measures have been taken to safeguard the health of individuals who are recipients of blood and blood components". The permanent deferral of men who have sex with men [MSM] from donating blood is not based on sexuality or orientation but on the fact that there are increased levels of HIV infection among men who have sex with men in Ireland.

Decisions of the IBTS on such matters are based on available evidence. Data available in Ireland from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, as well as from international sources, is kept under review. The most recent full year data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre is in respect of 2012 and in that year 341 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Ireland. The highest proportion of new diagnoses, 166 (nearly 49%), was in MSM and this proportion has been increasing since 2004. Full year results for 2013 are not yet available but the data for the first two quarters of that year show rates similar to 2012. These rates of HIV infection in MSM are disproportionately high, considering that MSM account for a relatively small proportion of the population.

The IBTS keeps its eligibility criteria for donating under regular on-going review, working closely with blood services internationally.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (579)

Willie Penrose

Question:

579. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health if he will take steps to ensure that kidney transplant and dialysis patients can retain their medical cards as their illness is not considered long-term; if same will be addressed in the context of continuous medication, assessment and review being warranted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15270/14]

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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.

All medical card and GP visit card holders, irrespective of the basis on which the card was awarded, are subject to a periodic review of eligibility to determine continuing eligibility. 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.

Health Care Professionals

Questions (580)

Dara Calleary

Question:

580. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health the reason he has not appointed the Physiotherapy Registration Board to date despite calling for expressions of interest in April 2013; if he will confirm that this is a statutory board; the number of expressions of interest he has received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15284/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health and Social Care Professionals Council (the Council) and the 12 registration boards to be established under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 are responsible for protecting the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence among the registrants of the following 12 health and social care professions designated under the Act: clinical biochemists, dietitians, medical scientists, occupational therapists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, radiographers, social care workers, social workers and speech and language therapists. In time, and in accordance with the provisions of the 2005 Act, only registrants will be entitled to use these titles.

Five registration boards are currently operating. The registration boards for the remaining seven designated professions will become operative on a phased basis by 2015.

Expressions of interest in being appointed to 12 positions on the Physiotherapists Registration Board were invited through the Public Appointments Service in April last year and a total of 29 eligible candidates applied for consideration. In addition a nominee of the Minister for Education and Skills has been proposed. I am currently examining these applications and expect to appoint the members of the new board in the near future.

Health Services Staff

Questions (581)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

581. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the situation of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 who was originally recruited as a home help and carer and has come close to being full–time staff; the pensions and-or retirement lump sum and-or gratuities available to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15296/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

EU Directives

Questions (582)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

582. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 1094 of 25 March 2014, if it is primary legislation or secondary legislation which is required to give effect to this directive. [15301/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Directive on Patients' Rights in Cross Border Healthcare provides rules for the reimbursement to patients' of the cost of receiving treatment abroad, where the patient would be entitled to such treatment in their home Member State (Member State of Affiliation) and supplements the rights that patients already have at EU level through the legislation on the coordination of social security schemes (regulation 883/04). The Department of Health is continuing to work on the necessary secondary legislation to implement the Directive and will have it in place as soon as possible.

Disease Incidence

Questions (583)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

583. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the number of death certificates that list diabetes as the cause of death; if this number has increased in the past 20 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15304/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The number of deaths where cause of death was registered as diabetes mellitus over the past 20 years is set out in the table below. The table also shows the mortality rate per 100,000 population which has remained relatively stable over the period.

Year

No. of Deaths

Rate per 100,000 population

1993

517

14.47

1994

352

9.82

1995

387

10.75

1996

432

11.91

1997

382

10.42

1998

412

11.13

1999

455

12.16

2000

412

10.87

2001

398

10.35

2002

418

10.67

2003

418

10.50

2004

459

11.35

2005

471

11.39

2006

539

12.71

2007

514

11.75

2008

482

10.75

2009

464

10.24

2010

514

11.28

2011

466

10.19

2012

514

11.21

Note: Data for 2012 is provisional.

Disease Incidence

Questions (584)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

584. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the number of women diagnosed with thyroid disorders each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15305/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Data on the total number of women diagnosed with thyroid disorders each year are not available.

Data from the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry (HIPE) system show that in 2012 there were 1,308 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of disorders of the thyroid gland (ICD-10-AM E00 – E07). There were also an additional 7,319 hospitalisations with a secondary diagnosis of disorders of the thyroid gland.

Note that these data are based on discharges of women aged 18 and over from publicly funded acute hospitals. It is important to note also that these data may include multiple admissions of the same patient and should not be construed as an estimate of the prevalence of thyroid disorders.

Disease Incidence

Questions (585)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

585. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the number of persons that die here each year from heart disease and stroke; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15306/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Central Statistics Office compiles data on the numbers of deaths in Ireland each year. The latest full year of data available is for 2012 and is provisional. The data requested is contained in the following table.

DEATHS

-

Cerebrovascular Disease

Ischaemic Heart Disease

2003

2,276

5,583

2004

2,106

5,485

2005

2,037

5,141

2006

1,947

5,017

2007

2,078

5,375

2008

2,142

5,185

2009

2,054

5,016

2010

2,097

4,871

2011

1,993

4,707

2012*

1,928

4,646

* Data for 2012 are provisional

Obesity Levels

Questions (586)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

586. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the annual cost of obesity to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15307/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Levels of overweight and obesity have increased in the last 20 years, with a rise from 51% in 1990 to 61% in 2011. The current figures for children are 25% of 3 year olds are overweight or obese.

Reliable contemporary and locally relevant figures for the annual, economic cost of weight-related ill health in the Republic of Ireland show that it costs 1.1 billion euros. My Department is developing a new obesity policy this year and this will have a significant impact on the obesity agenda and provide a framework for action based on an number of informants.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (587)

Micheál Martin

Question:

587. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if he will re-examine the application for a discretionary medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath with a long-term illness who recently underwent a liver transplant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15312/14]

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.

Maternity Services Provision

Questions (588)

Ann Phelan

Question:

588. Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Health when a protocol will be established in respect of the discharge of tracheostomy babies from hospital as soon as they are well enough; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15317/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Funding of €1.2m was made available in the HSE Service Plan 2014 for the discharge of special care babies from the acute hospital setting using packages of care in the community.

In regard to the particular query raised by the Deputy, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to her directly.

Medical Card Data

Questions (589)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

589. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if the Health Service Executive projection of 1,875,707 medical cards for 2014 still stands. [15321/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am advised by the HSE that monthly performance in relation to the 2014 HSE Service Plan is updated monthly and is publicly available on the HSE website under "Publications".

While the outcome of the assessment of eligibility of new applications for Medical Cards and eligibility reviews of existing cardholders cannot be predetermined, the 2014 HSE Service Plan sets out the planned level of service for the Medial Card Scheme activity in 2014 as follows: The number of persons covered by Medical Cards - 1,875,707.

Nursing Staff Provision

Questions (590)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

590. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the post allocations of public health nurses to each local health office in WTE terms; and the current vacancy rate for public health nurses in each local health office. [15328/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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