Mental Health Services Funding

Questions (199)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

199. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which child psychiatric services have adequate resources to meet the modern demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21777/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The mental health services are funded from Vote 39 (Health Service Executive) and not by the Office of the Minister for Health (Vote 38). Therefore, as this is a matter for the HSE, the Deputy's question has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Ambulance Service Provision

Questions (200)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

200. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied regarding the adequacy of resources to maintain an adequate ambulance service throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21778/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) is continuing to modernise and reconfigure its services to ensure emergency pre-hospital care is delivered in an appropriate and timely manner. A significant reform programme is currently underway which will provide a clinically driven, nationally co-ordinated system, supported by improved technology. In that regard, additional funding of €3.6 million and 43 staff have been provided in the National Service Plan 2014. Ongoing performance improvement projects include; the single national control system, to be completed in 2015; the Intermediate Care Service, for routine and non-emergency transfers, allowing emergency vehicles to focus on emergency situations; the move to on-duty rostering and the development of a national rostering system.

I would also like to draw the Deputy's attention to three separate reviews of ambulance services currently underway. HIQA is examining the governance arrangements for pre-hospital emergency services; the HSE and Dublin City Council have commissioned a joint review of Dublin ambulance services to determine the optimal and most cost-effective model of ambulance services delivery for the city; and the UK Association of Ambulance Chief Executives is undertaking a comprehensive capacity review of the NAS, to determine what level of resourcing, in terms of staff, vehicles, skills and distribution, is required to deliver a safe and effective service now and into the future. I am confident that these reviews will inform the development of a modern, clinically driven system, properly resourced, for appropriate and timely services to the benefit of patients.

Air Ambulance Service Provision

Questions (201, 202)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

201. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the number of occasions on which the air ambulance service has been accessed in each of the past five years to date; the extent to which adequate resources remain available to the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21779/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

202. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which the importance of the air ambulance services has been noted in the context of the overall provision of services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21780/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 202 together.

The Emergency Aeromedical Support Service was a joint 12 month pilot project between the National Ambulance Service and the Air Corps, providing dedicated aeromedical support to the NAS in the west, specifically where land ambulance transit times would not be clinically appropriate.

An evaluation of the pilot found a clinical need for the service and that it should be established on a permanent basis. The Minister accepted the review’s findings and an inter-service group is currently examining how best to implement the report’s recommendations, including the longer term potential for all-island provision.

The Ministers for Health and Defence have agreed to extend aeromedical support by the Air Corps to the EAS until June 2014, pending decisions on how best to proceed following consideration of the report’s recommendations.

The statistical data sought by the Deputy is an operational matter and I have therefore referred his question to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to him.

Health Insurance Community Rating

Question No. 204 answered with Question No. 189.

Questions (203)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

203. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which current private health insurance costs have been assessed with a view to identification of the most obvious issues contributing to escalation; the steps that can be taken to ensure a continuation of community rating at an affordable cost in the short to medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21781/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have consistently emphasised the need for much greater cost control in the private health insurance industry so that premiums are affordable for as many people as possible. My Department and the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) monitor the factors that contribute to costs on an ongoing basis.

The health insurance market is challenged by factors such as an ageing population, a reduction in numbers holding private health insurance and constant pressures on claims costs. In this regard, I appointed an independent chair to work with health insurers, the HIA and my own Department, to identify effective strategies for costs management. Mr. Pat McLoughlin's first report, published at the end of December, made a number of important recommendations now being pursued by insurers, the HSE and my Department. These recommendations include measures to control costs, greatly improve clinical audit, streamline claims processing and address fraud, waste and abuse in the industry. Work on Phase II of Mr. McLoughlin's report is progressing well and will be completed as soon as possible.

I am keen to create the best possible environment within which more people will want to obtain and retain private health insurance cover that is affordable, competitive and meets consumers' needs was we prepare to move to Universal Health Insurance.

In particular, I want to encourage younger people to join as early as possible. With this in mind, I will shortly be announcing important initiatives from 2015 in relation to Lifetime Community Rating and discounted rates for young adults. Lifetime Community Rating is intended to encourage people to join health insurance schemes early and to retain their private health insurance cover. Discounted rates for young adults are intended to help address the sharp increase in the cost of insurance faced by young people or their parents around the age of 21 years, when child and student discounts normally cease. My Department is working on the legislative changes required to implement these measures and it is intended that these two initiatives will operate from 2015, allowing for an appropriate notice period for both customers and insurers.

Question No. 204 answered with Question No. 189.

Hospitals Building Programme

Questions (205)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

205. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which the next development stage for Naas General Hospital is proceeding as planned; the degree to which the necessary resources remain available to meet requirements in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21783/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Following the Deputy's previous query in relation to the next development stage for Naas General Hospital, I understand the Health Service Executive (HSE) provided an update March. In relation to the information sought by the Deputy, as this is a service matter I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy with regard to any further update to this.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (206)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

206. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which provision is being made to ensure that patients awaiting for access to surgical procedures can have their waiting period minimised thereby reducing the level of pain and suffering which can be considerable in cases where such patients have to wait for a long period before gaining access to the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21784/14]

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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.

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.