Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (181)

Brendan Smith

Question:

181. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health if an application for a medical card is treated as an urgent application if the person is having palliative care and the relevant medical evidence is submitted with the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28697/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for health services in Ireland is based primarily on residency and means. Under the legislation, determination of an individual’s eligibility for a medical card is the responsibility of the HSE. The Act provides that persons who are unable, without undue hardship, having regard to their overall financial situation, to arrange GP services for themselves and family qualify for a medical card. The HSE awards medical cards in accordance with the Act. The HSE gives effect to this legislation through its Medical Card National Assessment Guidelines.

Once an application for a medical card incorporates certification from a medical consultant or a general practitioner that the applicant has a medical condition, which is categorised as terminal, and the applicant is nearing the end stage of life, the applicant will be granted eligibility to a medical card, without being subjected to a means assessment.

Medical cards issued, in such circumstances, will have a default eligibility period of 6 months, from the month of issue. Mindful that no definitive prognosis can be provided on the life expectancy of a terminally ill person, the HSE takes a sensitive approach on the review of medical card eligibility, beyond the initial 6 months period. A Medical Card Review notification is not issued and eligibility is extended to take account of the cardholder’s on-going circumstances.

With the exception of terminally ill patients in palliative care, the HSE issues all emergency cards on the basis that the patient is eligible for a medical card on the basis of means or undue hardship, and that the applicant will follow up with a full application within a number of weeks of receiving the emergency card. As a result, emergency medical cards are issued to a named individual, with a limited eligibility period of six months and the HSE reserves the right to review eligibility at any point in time to confirm that a person continues to meet the qualifying criteria required to continue holding eligibility.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Eligibility

Questions (182)

Finian McGrath

Question:

182. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the fair deal scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [28710/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

A fundamental principle enshrined in the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009 is that of patient choice. Once a person receives approval for financial support, they can choose to enter any nursing home that is participating in the scheme in any part of the country, subject to the nursing home having an available bed and being able to cater for the person's particular needs. This applies to public, private and voluntary nursing homes alike.

Accident and Emergency Department Waiting Times

Questions (183)

Pat Breen

Question:

183. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health the action being taken to explore the provision of a model 3 hospital within the UL hospitals Group; if consideration will be given to Ennis General Hospital fulfilling this role in view of the fact that this would alleviate the pressure at the accident and emergency department at the UL hospital in Limerick by reducing the number of Clare patients presenting there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28714/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Card Appeals

Questions (184)

Jack Wall

Question:

184. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28735/14]

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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.

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Questions (185)

Martin Heydon

Question:

185. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health the options open to persons who require financial support with mobility issues and car adaptations but are not in a position to pay up-front for such changes and claim tax relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28737/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Disabled Drivers and Passengers Tax Concession Scheme is operated by the Revenue Commissioners. The scheme provides a range of tax reliefs linked to the purchase and use of vehicles by disabled drivers and disabled passengers in Ireland.

There is no scheme which would provide finance to a person with a disability to purchase a car/vehicle where the individual cannot afford to purchase a car/vehicle as outlined by the Deputy.

There have been major developments in recent years in both Government policy and services for people with disabilities. The thrust of Government policy has been to improve accessibility to mainstream services for people with a disability through the removal of barriers and the provision of equal opportunities rather than to provide specialised, segregated services. The Department of Transport’s Sectoral Plan published under the Disability Act promotes the principle of mainstreaming by requiring accessibility to be an integral element of the public transport services. There are a number of Government Departments, State agencies, voluntary and community groups and transport operators (both public and private) involved in a range of aspects of transport policy, provision and funding. Significant improvements have already taken place in the accessibility of public transport and the Department of Social Protection provides for free public transport for people with disabilities and a companion.

In November 2013, the Government decided that the detailed preparatory work required for a new travel support payment and associated statutory provisions should be progressed by the Minister for Health. The Department of Health is working to progress this matter and will draw on the work, last year, of the Review Group on Transport Supports for People with Disabilities and the Inter-Departmental Group tasked by Government to consider this matter. Work is under way on the policy proposals to be brought to Government for the drafting of primary legislation for a new scheme.

The Mobility Allowance payment continues to be made to recipients of the allowance prior to it being closed last year. Those individuals continue to receive the same payment on a monthly basis, as before.

Hospital Appointment Status

Questions (186)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

186. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cavan who was originally scheduled to have their surgery carried out in Tallaght hospital in June 2013 has still not been seen; if he will seek a detailed response from the hospital on the reason this person's surgery has been cancelled on three separate occasions; his views that it is acceptable for a patient to be treated in this manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28739/14]

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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 2014, 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. The guidance on minimising hospital initiated postponements indicates that, where possible, routine patients who have previously been cancelled should be the last patients to be cancelled.

In relation to the Deputy's further question in this matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to her directly.

Road Network

Questions (187)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

187. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to fund a new bridge at Cockhill, Buncrana, County Donegal. [28596/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is a matter for the local authority.  

As the Deputy will be aware, Donegal County Council applied to the Department in 2010 for funding under the Specific Improvement Grant Scheme for funds for the Cockhill Bridge Scheme. The projected cost of the project was €2.95m. The Fianna Fáil government at the time decided not to fund it.

No further formal funding application has been received by my Department since.

Given the need to prioritise funding for repair and strengthening works, the Specific Improvement Grants Scheme was suspended in 2014. While provision may continue to be made for bridge repair and rehabilitation works I understand that the Cockhill Bridge proposal as submitted in 2010 would be outside the scope of such works as it involves major widening works.

It is important to repeat that the role of the Exchequer grant aid is to supplement Councils' own resource spending on regional and local roads.

Coast Guard Services

Questions (188)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

188. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to provide funding for a new coastguard station building at Malin Head, County Donegal or substantially upgrading the existing station. [28598/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Coast Guard building at Malin Head is a Marine Rescue Sub Centre, which was extensively renovated in 2011.  This included construction works and the upgrading of technical equipment costing €152,300.  There was also additional investment of some €40,000 for an equipment cabin and €553,000 for communications equipment located in Malin Head to upgrade the wider Coast Guard national communications network to integrated digital technology. Further scheduled maintenance and repairs will be carried out as they fall due.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (189)

Brian Stanley

Question:

189. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to introduce legislation to impose on-the-spot fines on persons caught cycling on pedestrian pavements. [28642/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

  The Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020 contains a commitment to bring some road traffic offences by cyclists within the fixed charge regime.  I intend to address this in the context of the next Road Traffic Bill, either by way of primary or secondary legislation.

Cyclists, like all road users, have a responsibility to act in accordance with road traffic regulations. It is already an offence for cyclists to cycle on the pavement. In consultation with relevant stakeholders, I am in the process of identifying those cycling offences that should be brought within the fixed charge system. Such measures will, I believe, benefit cyclists as well as other road users and pedestrians.

Driver Licence Renewals

Questions (190)

Michael Lowry

Question:

190. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will review the requirement that a person living abroad must return here, and present themselves in a National Driving Licence Service office if they wish to renew their Irish driving licence; his views on whether this requirement is fair or logical; if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties this causes for Irish persons living abroad who rely on their licence for employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28708/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The National Driver Licensing Service (NDLS) is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority (RSA).  

I can however clarify that in the specific case of emigrants, it is important to remember that EU law requires that people who apply for a driving licence in a Member State must be normally resident in that country.  The term ‘normally resident’ is generally considered as the place where a person lives for at least 185 days in each calendar year, because of personal and work ties.  Where a person is living abroad and working on a fixed term contract or attending a college or university, they can be thought of as resident in Ireland providing they have personal ties here, even though they may spend much less than half of a given year in the country.

The RSA has developed procedures to allow people who are abroad on such a basis but normally resident in Ireland to apply for renewal of their driving licence without having to return to appear in person at an NDLS centre.  This includes providing two passport-size photographs signed on the back. Full details of this arrangement can be obtained from the RSA.

People who are no longer normally resident in Ireland cannot renew a driving licence here. They should do that in their country of residence.

Light Rail Projects Provision

Questions (191)

John Lyons

Question:

191. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the contract for the next stage of the Luas Cross City has been awarded by the National Transport Agency; if his Department and NTA will consider the use of social clauses to allow a certain percentage of new construction jobs on the next phase of the project to be awarded to those who are on the live register or long-term unemployed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28734/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) in December 2009, the implementation and development of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as Luas Cross City, comes under the remit of the NTA.

Noting this, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten days.

Child Care Services Data

Questions (192)

Michael Conaghan

Question:

192. Deputy Michael Conaghan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of parents that have accessed the childcare employment and training support scheme in 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28574/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, which is one of a number of childcare support programmes implemented by my Department, was introduced to provide funding to support childcare costs for parents participating in Solas and the Education Training Board's training and education courses. Eligibility for this support is determined by the Department of Education and Skills.

The registration cycle for the CETS programme runs from 31 August to 1 September in the following year with 2,500 full time equivalent places being the maximum number of places provided for each year. In the year ending 1 September 2013, a year in which figures are readily accessible, 2,533 eligible parents, availing of specified training and education courses, were supported under the programme with childcare services provided to approximately 3,800 children. These figures are representative of the yearly uptake of the programme since its introduction in September 2010 including the current school year.

Further Training and Employment Childcare programmes have been introduced to support parents returning to the workforce. The After-School Child Care (ASCC) programme was introduced in October 2013 and provides after-school care for certain categories of working parents. There are currently 74 parents being supported under the after-school programme. The Community Employment Childcare (CEC) programme was introduced in January 2014 with 383 parents currently receiving childcare support. Eligibility for these programmes is determined by the Department of Social Protection.

Child Care Services Provision

Questions (193)

Michael Conaghan

Question:

193. Deputy Michael Conaghan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the counties in which the community subvention scheme is currently not available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28575/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department administers the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme which is confined to community not-for-profit childcare services. The subvention is used by the services to reduce the weekly fees charged to disadvantaged or low income working families based on eligibility criteria.

The CCS programme is available in all counties throughout the country. Information on the location of community services participating in the programme is available from the City or County Childcare Committee in each county.

School Completion Programme

Questions (194)

Robert Dowds

Question:

194. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will reconsider the recent cuts in funding to the school completion programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28645/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The School Completion Programme (SCP) aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to generally improve the school attendance, participation and retention of its target cohort. The SCP is a targeted intervention aimed at those school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills’ DEIS Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. It involves 124 locally managed projects and related initiatives operating across 470 primary and 224 post-primary schools to provide targeted supports to approximately 36,000 children and young people. The programme's project model approach gives local communities the autonomy to devise innovative approaches to address the needs of young people most at risk of early school leaving.

As with all major spending programmes, the School Completion Programme budget was subject to examination under the terms of the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE). This process identified a requirement for savings of 6.5% per annum across the programme over the period 2012 to 2014.

Since its establishment the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to projects within the programme. I am advised that proposals have yet to be formulated by the Agency in relation to the funding for School Completion Programme projects in the coming 2014/2015 academic year. As an initial step the Agency invited all School Completion Programme Projects to commence planning for the next cycle of the programme within the available funding parameters. The Agency has commenced the detailed process of evaluating and approving the 2014/2015 school retention plans for individual projects. It is anticipated that the Agency will advise projects of the outcome of the process and of their allocations in time for the start of the new school year. The Agency will continue to work closely with Local Management Committees, schools and local School Completion Programme co-ordinators to assist projects through the process.

The potential for any changes in the funding allocated to this programme in future years is a matter to be considered in the estimates and budgetary process having regard to the resources available to Government.