Dental Services Provision

Questions (648)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

648. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a change in approach by a hospital (details supplied) from allowing open access to primary dental care to requiring patients to have referral letters from a local dentist; and if his Department has been monitoring this development in view of the significant funding received by the hospital in question from the Health Service Executive. [21482/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

There have been no changes to the Dublin Dental University Hospital's patient acceptance procedures, the details of which are published on its website and in patient information leaflets.

Health Services Staff Recruitment

Questions (649)

Dan Neville

Question:

649. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health the criteria for counselling-therapists posts for appointments to the Health Service Executive. [21493/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Health Services Staff Recruitment

Questions (650)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

650. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health the number of the 80 additional therapy staff who have been recruited this year as part of the progressing disability services for children and young people programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21507/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has recognised the need to increase the level of consistency and standardisation in the way services for children with disabilities are delivered. It is currently engaged in a reconfiguration of existing therapy resources to multi-disciplinary geographic based teams for children as part of its National Programme on Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People (0-18 years).

The aim of the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People Programme is to achieve a national, unified approach to delivering disability health services so that there is a clear pathway to services for all children, regardless of where they live, what school they go to or the nature of their disability.

The Programme is organised at national, regional and local level and includes representatives from the health and education sectors, non-statutory service providers and parents. An additional €4m has been specifically allocated in 2014 to drive implementation of the Programme. This equates to approximately 80 therapy posts.

As recruitment is a service matter for the Health Service Executive, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Card Data

Questions (651)

Gerald Nash

Question:

651. Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Health if he will provide, on a county basis and in tabular form, the number of discretionary medical cards provided to persons in the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014; if he will provide information on the percentage reductions year in year on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21519/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The information concerning the numbers of medical & GP visit cards granted, where discretion was involved, is provided in the table below as requested by the Deputy.

Statistics for medical and GP visit cards granted, where discretion was involved, are recorded from early 2012 onwards and so for comparative purposes, I have tabled figures for the three years available for 1 April. The HSE collate GMS statistical data by Local Health Office or by region and not by county.

Local Health Office

No.s of Discretionary Medical & GP Visit Cards @ 1/4/12

No.s of Discretionary Medical & GP Visit Cards @ 1/4/13

% Difference 2012 to 2013

No.s of Discretionary Medical & GP Visit Cards @ 1/4/14

% Difference 2013 to 2014

Carlow/ Kilkenny

1952

2209

13%

2457

11%

Cavan/ Monaghan

1454

1550

7%

1885

22%

Clare

3495

2854

-18%

2612

-8%

Cork - North Lee

6805

6123

-10%

5308

-13%

Cork - South Lee

3777

3593

-5%

3433

-4%

Donegal

2911

2616

-10%

3144

20%

Dublin North Central

1198

1370

14%

1672

22%

Dublin South City

706

831

18%

982

18%

Dublin South East

505

634

26%

738

16%

Dublin South West

3608

2823

-22%

2380

-16%

Dublin West

1853

1817

-2%

1908

5%

Dun Laoghaire

1146

811

-29%

741

-9%

Galway

3450

3644

6%

3931

8%

Kerry

3088

2940

-5%

3216

9%

Kildare/ West Wicklow

3662

3732

2%

3628

-3%

Laois/ Offaly

4648

4031

-13%

3961

-2%

Limerick

4091

3934

-4%

4008

2%

Longford/ Westmeath

2126

1945

-9%

2294

18%

Louth

741

1005

36%

1473

47%

Mayo

1970

2012

2%

2300

14%

Meath

676

1195

77%

1925

61%

North Cork

4372

3584

-18%

2858

-20%

North Dublin

5270

4183

-21%

3662

-12%

North Tipp./ East Limerick

3888

2840

-27%

2127

-25%

North West Dublin

1928

1795

-7%

2094

17%

Roscommon

1633

1487

-9%

1357

-9%

Sligo/ Leitrim

3090

2381

-23%

2184

-8%

South Tipperary

2357

2412

2%

2225

-8%

Waterford

3049

2866

-6%

2786

-3%

West Cork

1963

1638

-17%

1362

-17%

Wexford

1698

1913

13%

2379

24%

Wicklow

1914

1684

-12%

1646

-2%

Dental Services Waiting Lists

Questions (652)

Clare Daly

Question:

652. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Dublin who is in need of emergency dental treatment has been waiting for the past 18 months for an appointment; and the action he will take regarding same. [21520/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the HSE to investigate this case and respond to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Prescription Charges

Questions (653)

Michael McGrath

Question:

653. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will address an issue raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding prescription charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21522/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medicines) Act 2013, which was commenced in June of last year, provides the statutory basis for the introduction of a system of generic substitution and reference pricing. Under the Act, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) is responsible for the assessment of interchangeability of medicines.

In deciding whether to add a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products, the IMB must be satisfied that each medicinal product which falls within the group:

(a) has the same qualitative and quantitative composition in each of its active substances as each of the other medicinal products which fall within the group;

(b) is in the same pharmaceutical form as, or in a pharmaceutical form that is appropriate for substitution for, each of the other products in the group; and

(c) has the same route of administration as each of the other medicinal products which fall within the group.

In addition, the Act provides that the IMB is not permitted to add a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products where:

- there is a difference in bioavailability between the medicinal products and the interchangeable medicinal products which currently fall within the group of interchangeable medicinal products which may lead to a clinically significant difference in efficacy between them, and

- any of the medicinal products cannot be safely substituted for any one or more of the other medicinal products in the group.

I would like to emphasise that in making a decision to add a medicinal product to a group of interchangeable medicinal products or a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products, the IMB is obliged to have regard to the criteria as set out in the Act.

To further enhance the patient safety aspect of generic substitution, Section 13 of the Act allows a prescriber to indicate on a prescription that a branded interchangeable medicinal product should, for clinical reasons, not be substituted.

It is also important to point out that generic medicines must meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the originator medicine. All of the generic medicines on the Irish market are required to be properly licensed and meet the requirements of the IMB.

A key objective of the Act is to enable patients to opt for lower cost interchangeable medicines. In general terms, when a pharmacist is presented with a prescription for an interchangeable medicine, which is not the subject of a clinical exemption, the pharmacist is obliged to offer the patient the opportunity to agree to substituting the prescribed product with an interchangeable medicine which is in stock in the pharmacy and is of lower cost to the patient or the HSE, as the case may be. The patient may either accept the interchangeable medicine offered by the pharmacist or opt to receive the branded interchangeable medicine where prescribed. Alternatively, the patient may opt to go to a different pharmacy to receive a less expensive interchangeable medicine.

The Act also allows the HSE to set a reference price for groups of interchangeable medicines. Eligible persons under the community drug schemes, including the Drug Payment Scheme, will only face an additional charge where a reference price has been set for a group of interchangeable medicines and the medicine dispensed is priced higher than the reference price and is not the subject of a clinical exemption.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (654)

Pat Deering

Question:

654. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Health if he will consider introducing a third tier of medical card to deal specifically with medical condition rather than means. [21536/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

HSE data shows that the number of medical cards issued, where discretion was involved has fallen in recent years. However, this is not as a result of a change in policy or a deliberate targeting of discretionary cards. Rather, it is attributable, in the main, to the fact that many people, who previously were marginally over the qualifying means thresholds, have subsequently been granted medical cards because they fall under those means thresholds. Of the discretionary cards in circulation in 2011, less than one-tenth have subsequently been found to be ineligible for a medical card on review.

At the request of Minister Reilly, the HSE is currently examining how individuals, who are not entitled to a medical card, could still receive services that meet their needs. This issue is being addressed in a manner that includes all of the services and supports provided by the HSE with as much flexibility as is available and at a local level. It is intended that improved published information and local information points will be established at major health centres around the country, where members of the public can obtain comprehensive information and support in accessing their full range of supports and entitlements from the Health Services. The objective is to maximise the supports available for patients and families.

My clear intention is to maximise the supports that can be provided in each case and to ensure that entitlements are maximised to the fullest extent possible. The HSE is seeking to find the best way to achieve this in order to ensure families will receive the support they need.

Hospital Services

Questions (655)

Brendan Smith

Question:

655. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the number of medical-surgical procedures cancelled at Sligo General Hospital during the period from 1 October 2013 to 30 April 2014; if there has been a higher than normal rate of cancellation of procedures during that particular period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21543/14]

View answer

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.

Dental Services Provision

Questions (656)

Seán Kyne

Question:

656. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Health if he will confirm the entitlements to dental care under the medical card scheme; if the entitlement permits two fillings per year; and if there is a waiting period of five years before a recipient may have a second or subsequent filling in the same tooth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21547/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme provides access to dental treatment for adult medical card holders. The service is provided by contracted dentists. The HSE prioritises for treatment patients with special needs, high risk patients and those who have greater clinical needs. A free oral examination every calendar year and free emergency dental treatment with a focus on relief of pain and sepsis are available to all eligible patients, regardless of their medical condition. This includes 2 fillings per year, all extractions, including surgical extractions, and a number of complex treatments. A subsequent filling on the same tooth within a five year period can be approved by the HSE where such treatment is clinically necessary.

Home Help Service Provision

Questions (657)

Dan Neville

Question:

657. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health if a review for home help will be carried out again in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21557/14]

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

Question No. 659 answered with Question No. 574.

Questions (658)

Michael Ring

Question:

658. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health when a decision will issue on a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [21567/14]

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.

Question No. 659 answered with Question No. 574.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (660)

Finian McGrath

Question:

660. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding discretionary medical cards in respect of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21601/14]

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.

Departmental Bodies Abolition

Questions (661)

Seán Fleming

Question:

661. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health the number of State agencies and public bodies that have been merged or abolished in each year since 2011 under the remit of his Department; the annual savings associated with each body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21796/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Four bodies, National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery, National Social Workers Qualifications Board, Children Acts Advisory Board and the Drug Treatment Centre Board have been dissolved since March 2011.

The extent of savings varies between organisations and the majority of staff will be redeployed to other public service bodies. Efficiencies will derive from economies of scale and the elimination of duplication in areas such as recruitment, procurement, payroll and ICT systems. Savings will also arise from the dissolution of Agency boards, some of which attract payment of travel and subsistence and/or board fees.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (662)

Seán Fleming

Question:

662. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health the number of public servants employed in his Department on a lower pay scale than their colleagues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21824/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

There are a number of officers in the Department acting in different roles who are on different payscales to the standard civil service. However, they are employed on secondment arrangements whereby they hold the payscale they are properly entitled to in their parent Department or Organisation. The Department does not have any civil servants who are employed directly by the Department on lower payscales to their colleagues.

Departmental Legal Cases Data

Questions (663)

Seán Fleming

Question:

663. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health the number of legal cases that have been served against his Department arising from disputes regarding pay and conditions of public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21837/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Department does not currently have any legal cases pending arising from disputes regarding pay and conditions of its staff.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (664)

Seán Fleming

Question:

664. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health the current average age of full-time staff in his Department; the way this compares with the average age of public servants in each year from 2010 to 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21849/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the tabular statement.

Year

Average Age of Staff

2010

46

2011

46

2012

47

2013

47

May 9th 2014

48

Ministerial Travel

Questions (665)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

665. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he will provide details of all official foreign trips he and Ministers of State in his Department intend to take between now and the end of 2014; if he will detail the persons they will meet on these trips; the purpose of the trip; the duration of the trip; if there are plans to use all of these trips to promote Ireland as a good place for doing business and as a destination for foreign direct investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21860/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I will be attending a meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) in Luxembourg on Friday 20th June 2014. Health Ministers from all 27 Member States will be present or represented. I have no other foreign trips arranged at this time.

My colleague Minister Kathleen Lynch has one foreign trip arranged. She will be attending the second International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) Forum in Malta on the 13th and 14th May.

Minister Alex White has no foreign trips arranged for this year.

The Deputy can be assured that I and the Ministers of State will continue to avail of every opportunity, both at home and abroad, to promote Ireland as a good place for doing business and encouraging direct foreign investment.

Public Transport

Questions (666)

Finian McGrath

Question:

666. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding rickshaws (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20833/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Rickshaws do not come within the small public service vehicle (SPSV) regulatory regime. The SPSV regulatory regime applies to mechanically propelled vehicles only.  The use of rickshaws on public roads must comply with general road traffic legislation and any bye-laws made by local authorities.

Semi-State Bodies

Questions (667)

Seán Fleming

Question:

667. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of commercial semi-State companies under the aegis of his Department; the current value of the pension fund assets held by each commercial semi-State company; the latest funding position of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20913/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

There are 18 commercial semi state companies under the aegis of my Department.

Commercial Semi-State Companies

CIÉ

Bus Átha Cliath

Bus Éireann

Iarnród Éireann

Dublin Airport Authority

Cork Airport Authority

Irish Aviation Authority

Shannon Airport Authority

Railway Procurement Agency

Drogheda Port Company

Dublin Port Company

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company

Galway Harbour Company

New Ross Port Company

Port of Cork Company

Port of Waterford Company

Shannon Foynes Port Company

Wicklow Port Company

Details of these companies can be found on the Department's website www.dttas.ie. Details of the pension funds relating to those companies are contained in the published annual accounts of each company and these are available on each individual company's website as well as from the Oireachtas Library.

National Roads Authority Projects

Questions (668)

Tom Fleming

Question:

668. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will request the National Roads Authority to provide the necessary funding as a matter of priority to address a very dangerous bend at Dungeel, Killorglin, County Kerry, (details supplied) on the Killorglin to Killarney road; if he will examine the possibility of providing signs at this location where a number of road traffic accidents have occurred; if he will request the Road Safety Authority to immediately investigate this health and safety issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20931/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  

More specifically, the provision and maintenance of signage on national roads such as the N71 is a matter for the NRA and the relevant local authority, in this case, Kerry County Council.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.

State Airports

Questions (669)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

669. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his response to concerns expressed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, that the State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill 2014 proposes to set aside protections afforded to employees of the State airports under section 12 of the State Airports Act 2004; and if he will address the specific concerns regarding the introduction of a new section 32(a)(12) and clarify his precise intentions in relation to this section of the legislation. [20953/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

This question relates to the State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill 2014 which was published last month and which provides in section 33 for amendments to the existing statutory provisions governing superannuation schemes in our State airport authorities. As I have made clear on previous occasions, I have no formal function in relation to the resolution of the funding difficulties of the IAS Scheme. This is primarily a matter for the trustees, the members of the scheme, the companies participating in the scheme and the national regulator of such pension schemes - the Pensions Authority.

The amendments in the Bill are designed to facilitate implementation of whatever proposals emerge from the negotiations currently underway to resolve the IAS scheme difficulties and to facilitate changes, by the trustee, to that scheme.

On foot of the concerns expressed by Congress which the Deputy refers to, my Department has explained the rationale for the provisions in the Bill and clarified that they do not pre-empt or anticipate any particular solution that may emerge from the parties to the current discussions nor are they intended to undermine the terms and conditions of employment of staff.  The prospect of further engagement with ICTU on these aspects of the Bill was left open.

The Bill is at Second Stage in the Seanad today and this House will, of course, also have an opportunity to debate its provisions including those relating to the IAS scheme.

Driver Licences

Questions (670)

Pat Breen

Question:

670. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason for the delay in reaching agreement with Canadian provinces regarding driving licence exchange, which would allow Irish emigrants travelling to Canada to exchange their Irish licence for one from the relevant Canadian province; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21065/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

Agreements on mutual recognition of driving licences involve very detailed negotiations.  On the Irish side, these negotiations are undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).  In Canada, each individual province is responsible for its own driver licensing rules.  The RSA has therefore been in negotiations with the various provinces in Canada, with a priority given to reaching an agreement with Ontario.  

Reaching such an agreement is not only a matter of facilitating the exchange of licences by Irish residents in Canada or by Canadian residents in Ireland. Rather it also involves both sides ensuring that the people licensed to drive in the other jurisdiction are properly qualified.  As a result, when Ireland makes agreements of this kind with other jurisdictions, we require, as a standard component of the agreement, that we will not accept for exchange licences issued by the other jurisdiction if those licences were in turn derived from an exchange with a third country with which we do not have an exchange relationship.

I understand from the RSA that most issues have been agreed with Ontario, but that the issue of licences based on exchange for a third country licence has delayed matters.  My Department is aware of this, and has been in communication with the embassy in Ottawa in order to explore ways of overcoming this.

 I remain keen to see exchange agreements reached with the Canadian provinces, as soon as possible.