Mobility Allowance Review

Questions (709)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

709. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health if he will provide details on the mobility allowance and mobility transport allowance; the scheme that has been put in place since the removal of those allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22642/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In November 2013, the Government decided that the detailed preparatory work required for a new travel subsidy scheme and associated statutory provisions should be progressed by the Minister for Health. The Minister has included the Health (Transport Supports) Bill in the Government’s legislative programme. Work is ongoing at the present time on the policy proposals to be brought to Government.

Obesity Strategy

Questions (710)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

710. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health if he will consider appointing health promotion officers to schools to help tackle issues such as childhood obesity and poor diet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22733/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The effect of overweight and obesity in childhood are cumulative and many overweight children grow up to become obese adults. The resulting health problems will place an additional burden on our future healthcare systems. Because overweight and obesity are a public health priority for me and, in particular, childhood overweight and obesity, I have established a Special Action Group on Obesity (SAGO) comprising representatives from Department of Health, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Education and Skills, the Health Service Executive, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and safefood to examine and progress a number of issues to address the problem of obesity.

Progress has been made on the Healthy Eating guidelines and there is strong support for the Calories on Menus initiative, which I launched recently. Arising out of the Irish Presidency of the EU and the Informal Meeting of Health Ministers, the EU Commissioner supported the call for an EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity to be developed by the EU High Level Group On Nutrition and Physical Activity. This Plan has been drafted and will be finalised in 2014.

SAGO has also developed a Report to bring our consumption of Top Shelf Foods into line with the Healthy Eating Guidelines. Measures include healthy vending machine policy, healthy school meals programme and voluntary codes of practice relating to the marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

I recently launched the safefood/HI/HSE three year Childhood Obesity Campaign – Childhood Obesity: Let’s take it on – one small step at a time - which is designed to create greater awareness among parents about the threat of childhood overweight and obesity and provide practical tips to help address the problem with the ultimate aim of effecting behaviour change.

The Healthy Ireland policy supports a whole-of-government approach to address the determinants and predictors of health and well-being, many of which fall outside the health sector, including those which are of relevance in the education sector. In addition to Healthy Ireland, my Department is leading the implementation of Outcome 1: Healthy, Active Children, a priority commitment of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the policy framework for children and young people. This includes development of an implementation plan and effective working arrangements to implement the policy and to ensure alignment with Healthy Ireland.

Work has commenced on supporting improved child health and well-being in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and the other partners in the education sector. To build on recent progress in partnering in the launch of Active Schools Week and the Active Schools Flag initiative, work has commenced on ensuring a co-ordinated cross-sectoral approach to support schools and teachers in improving child health and well-being across a range of themes (nutrition, physical activity, SPHE, mental health etc) and in developing and putting in place a co-ordinated support infrastructure involving the HSE.

Ireland is a member of the wider ‘Schools for Health’ Network in Europe. In Ireland, the Health Promoting School Initiative (as defined by the WHO) is lead by the HSE. It operates at both primary and post-primary level.

In a Health Promoting School (HPS), health is viewed in its broadest sense, and includes the physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of health. It recognises that health is influenced by many factors beyond the individual, and aims to create a setting that supports health and healthy choices. It is a long-term initiative aimed at involving the school community - students, staff and parents/guardians - in a whole-school approach to health and well-being.

The HPS process adopts a ‘whole school approach’ that goes beyond the classroom and includes:

- Creating a healthy physical and social school environment

- Building health skills and life competencies through the school curriculum and other learning opportunities

- Developing and implementing school policies that promote health and well-being

- Strengthening partnerships for health, including linkages to families and the wider school community.

The HSE's Health Promotion Officers support and guide schools throughout the process. Health Promoting Schools is a key action outlined in the HSE - Health & Wellbeing Division Operational Plan for 2014, which committed to supporting the implementation of the initiative in 465 schools. The HSE is currently supporting over 450 schools through the Health Promoting School process.

Prescription Charges

Questions (711)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

711. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding prescriptions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23030/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As announced in Budget 2014, it was necessary to increase the prescription charge due to the very difficult and challenging economic environment which requires the Government to achieve additional savings in health expenditure with €619 million of savings targeted in 2014. The increase in prescription charges will account for €43 million of this target. The Government is committed to achieving these savings while protecting front line services to the most vulnerable to the greatest extent possible.

Prescription charges do not apply to children in the care of the HSE or to methadone supplied to patients participating in the Methadone Treatment Scheme. There are no plans at present to provide for further exemptions from prescription charges.

However, this case raises policy issues around the implementation of prescription charges which I will consider further.

Medical Card Reviews

Questions (712)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

712. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the numbers of discretionary medical cards which have been reviewed in the past two years and to date in 2014; of those, the number that were withdrawn; the total combined cost saving to the State from the withdrawals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22130/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. However, I have asked the Health Service Executive to supply this information to me and I will forward it to the Deputy as soon as possible.

It should be noted that about 6% of medical cards extant in 2011, where discretion was exercised, have had their eligibility withdrawn by 2014.

I would like to advise the Deputy that it is important to note that where a medical card is withdrawn – irrespective of its having been awarded based solely on means or where the HSE has exercised discretion – it is not withdrawn due on the cost implications for the HSE. In accordance with the Health Acts, a medical card can only be withdrawn due to eligibility not having been established.

Health Services Charges

Questions (713)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

713. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the average cost of acute hospital care per patient per day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22131/14]

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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.

Medical Card Reviews

Questions (714)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

714. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) with progressive multiple sclerosis lost their medical card; and the reason they have been waiting since March for a review. [22135/14]

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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 Appeals

Questions (715)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

715. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the progress to date in respect of a medical card appeal in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22137/14]

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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 Data

Questions (716)

Ann Phelan

Question:

716. Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Health if he will quantify on a county basis the number of persons who have lost their medical cards in the 12 months up to the end of March 2014; the number of said persons who have been given GP only cards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22143/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. However, I have asked the Health Service Executive to supply this information to me and I will forward it to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Hospital Equipment

Questions (717)

Dara Calleary

Question:

717. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the ECG machine at a community hospital (details supplied) in County Mayo; when he expects the machine to return to service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22147/14]

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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.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (718)

Clare Daly

Question:

718. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health his plans to change the procedure in the Irish Medical Council whereby those on the board are persons who previously worked in the medical establishments to whom persons are often making complaints; and how he proposes to make it more accountable and transparent. [22164/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Membership of the Medical Council is determined by Section 17 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, ensuring that there is a lay majority on the Council and I am confident that the composition of the Council allows the Council to operate its functions in a diligent, fair and competent manner in all aspects. Members of the Council have been chosen because of the range of knowledge, skills and competencies which they bring to the Council and which are essential in helping the Council to perform its functions effectively.

In addition, the Council complies with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies and has set out procedures for addressing conflict of interest in accordance with the Code of Practice. This includes each member of the Council furnishing details relating to his/her employment and all business or professional interests that could involve a conflict or interest or could materially influence the member in relation to the performance of his/her functions as a member of the Council. Details of interests disclosed are kept by the Secretary to the Council in a special confidential register and are updated on an annual basis.

I am therefore satisfied that the Council is operating in an accountable and transparent fashion and in keeping with codes of ethics and best practice.

Respite Care Grant Payments

Questions (719, 720)

Michael McGrath

Question:

719. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will seek to increase the amount of respite care afforded in a respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22165/14]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

720. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will provide transport to and from a day service in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22166/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 719 and 720 together.

As the Deputy's questions relates to service matters, I have arranged for the questions to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (721)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

721. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health if he will review the decision to refuse a medical card to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10 on the basis that the disease they suffer from, Addisons disease, is not listed, yet it is a disease that will require life long medication; if he will consider entering Addisons disease on the list for medical cards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22172/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the provisions of the Health Acts, medical cards are provided to persons who are, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive, unable without undue hardship to arrange GP services for themselves and their dependants. Under the legislation, medical card entitlement is not granted on the basis of a particular disease or illness. However, 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.

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine the particulars of 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 Inquiries

Questions (722)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

722. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 439 of 4 March 2014, if he will provide an update on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22186/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I understand that the Deputy has recently received a response to this question. Please revert to me if I may be further assistance in this matter.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (723)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

723. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry. [22192/14]

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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.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Applications

Questions (724)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

724. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the fair deal scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22194/14]

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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.