Health Services Provision

Questions (239)

Joe Higgins

Question:

239. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on the implementation of the national neurorehabilitation strategy; and report the number of extra community neurorehabilitation teams that have been put in place since the publication of the strategy. [18353/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Neurorehabilitation health services are provided across a range of settings, by different organisations and by many health professionals and carers. The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive published the National Policy and Strategy for the Provision of Neuro-Rehabilitation Services in Ireland. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has established a steering group to develop an implementation plan for the Strategy working with the National Clinical Programme on Rehabilitation Medicine.

The Department has asked the HSE to provide the Deputy with the information requested regarding the number of community rehabilitation teams in place.

Hospital Beds Data

Questions (240, 241)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

240. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the amount being spent by the Health Service Executive on private beds at the UPMC Beacon Hospital, Dublin and UPMC Whitfield Clinic, Waterford over the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18366/14]

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Billy Kelleher

Question:

241. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if a guarantee on the continuation of the purchase of private beds by the Health Service Executive at the UPMC Beacon Hospital, Dublin and UPMC Whitfield Clinic, Waterford formed part of the negotiations for the sale on the part of the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18367/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 241 together.

I have no role or function in relation to the National Asset Management Agency. As regards the other detailed queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to him directly.

Hospital Beds Data

Questions (242)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

242. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the number of wards and beds that have been closed at Waterford Regional Hospital over the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18369/14]

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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.

Hospital Staff Data

Questions (243)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

243. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if he will provide, in tabular form, the number of staff by department, listing their titles, who have left Waterford Regional Hospital over the past three years; the number of these posts that have been refilled; the number still waiting to be filled; the number of these posts that no longer exist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18370/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is an operational matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (244)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

244. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health the reason a medical card has been withdrawn in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18390/14]

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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 Applications

Questions (245)

Tom Fleming

Question:

245. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will expedite and award a discretionary medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18399/14]

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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 Delays

Questions (246)

Michael Lowry

Question:

246. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the ever increasing time it is taking to process medical card applications, reviews and appeals; the reasons for the increased processing times; if his attention has been drawn to the huge distress and hardship this is causing applicants; if he will redeploy additional staff to reduce processing times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18407/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive operates under the legislative framework of the Health Act of 1970, as subsequently amended. In the interest of probity, the HSE is obliged, irrespective of the age of the person, to ensure that a person's eligibility is correctly recorded in line with the eligibility legislation and the national guidelines. The HSE aims to ensure that every person who is entitled to the medical card schemes is given the opportunity to avail of their entitlement.

The current structured processes in operation in PCRS concerning medical and GP visit card applications, reviews and appeals must be supported with a range of documentation, as outlined on the application forms. Where such supporting documentation is not supplied, or is incomplete, to enable the assessment of an application, in accordance with the National Assessment Guidelines, the HSE will issue correspondence to the applicant, specifying the additional information required to progress the assessment of their application. Clearly, the processing time for incomplete applications is dependent on the furnishing of the required supporting documentation by the applicant.

Any medical card holder undergoing a review to renew a medical card, who genuinely engages with the HSE, will not have their entitlement withdrawn before the review is complete, regardless of the expiry date shown on their medical card. In cases where a decision is made not to grant a medical card, the applicant is informed of the decision and is notified of their right to appeal this decision. Contact details for the appeals office are provided to them. Where a person submits an appeal to a decision not to renew a medical card within 21 days of that decision, he/she also retains the medical card or GP visit card until the appeal is decided.

Towards the end of 2013, the HSE announced a communications campaign designed to raise awareness of the rules governing eligibility for medical cards. This included providing extra resources to the national Call Centre for public enquiries, a public information campaign through media advertisements, the development of a key new Information Leaflet, improved support on the HSE website, and included wide ranging training for front line staff. Given, also, that over 40% of the population, or nearly 2 million people, qualify for a medical card or GP visit card, the scale of the administration of the general medical services, GMS, scheme is significant. Over 700,000 individuals were assessed by the HSE in 2013 and well in excess of 95% of applications were processed within the target of 15 working days.

The HSE is now completing medical card reviews for approximately 86,000 individuals per month. It is expected that increased data sharing between Revenue, Department of Social Protection and the HSE has the potential to further reduce the level of documents and information required from families as their eligibility status is reviewed. In view of the assessment processes involved, I am satisfied that every effort is made to assist, support and facilitate persons undergoing review and in the most timely fashion.

Each week the HSE publishes the turnaround time for medical card processing and this data is available on the Primary Care Reimbursement Services website: https://www.sspcrs.ie/portal/medapp/turnaround.jsp.

Hospital Appointment Delays

Questions (247)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

247. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if an appointment and treatment for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be expedited in view of the urgency of their condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18423/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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.