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Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014

Written Answers Nos. 406-423

Primary Care Centre Provision

Questions (406)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

406. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health when the next stage of the tendering process for the long-proposed Mountainview-Summerhill primary community care facility Dublin 1 will be completed; the latest proposed opening date of the centre; and if services such as the Alzheimer's club will be facilitated to host meetings and workshops for the growing number in need of support with the condition in the catchment area. [36879/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The proposed Summerhill primary care centre project is one of the fourteen included in the PPP project. The National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) issued the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) documents for this PPP project early last week. Tender returns are due in February 2015, following which they will be assessed and evaluated. It is expected that the project will be completed by Q1 2017.

It is proposed that there may be limited access to meeting room accommodation for community groups on a discretionary basis. These arrangements will be facilitated where possible and can be organised directly with the local Primary Care Centre Manager.

Additional information is available on this website - http://www.ndfa.ie/TenderCompetitions/PrimaryCareCentresPPPProgramme.htm.

Speech and Language Therapy

Questions (407, 408)

Ciara Conway

Question:

407. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Health his plans to provide a speech and language therapy service at St. Patrick's rehabilitation unit in Waterford; when the current vacancies will be filled; if temporary replacement staff are being put in place to cover maternity leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36887/14]

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Ciara Conway

Question:

408. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Health his plans to provide a speech and language therapy service in County Waterford at St. Patrick's rehabilitation unit; when the current vacancies will be filled, if temporary replacement staff are being put in place to cover maternity leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36896/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 407 and 408 together.

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Transfers

Questions (409)

John McGuinness

Question:

409. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if he will expedite the transfer of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny to a hospital in County Carlow as requested by their family. [36899/14]

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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.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (410)

John McGuinness

Question:

410. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if an early date will be set for a hip operation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny as their case is urgent and they are assessed as a public patient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36903/14]

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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.

In relation to the particular query raised by the Deputy, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to him on this matter.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (411)

Seán Fleming

Question:

411. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health when an operation will be scheduled in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36904/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Bariatric services are provided in two public hospitals – St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin and Galway University Hospital. Bariatric surgery was originally provided by St. Columcille’s Hospital and, as part of the reconfiguration of hospital services, was transferred to St Vincent’s Hospital last year. Funding was agreed to ensure the continuity of service provision as part of the transfer of services.

In relation to the particular query in relation to waiting lists for bariatric surgery raised by the Deputy, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to you on this matter.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (412)

Robert Dowds

Question:

412. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on plans to alter the roll-out of clinical services for children and adults with physical disabilities in the constituencies of Dublin Mid-West, Dublin South-West , Kildare North and Kildare South. [36917/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (413)

Robert Dowds

Question:

413. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health the clinical services to be provided to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 22 after the alterations to the roll-out of clinical services in the wider geographic area; and the persons to whom they will be available. [36918/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The particular issue raised by the Deputy is a service matter for the Health Service Executive.

Accordingly I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services Staff Recruitment

Questions (414)

Robert Dowds

Question:

414. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health his position regarding the moratorium on filling any health worker posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36919/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government has decided that the numbers employed across the public service must be reduced in order to meet fiscal and budgetary targets. The health sector must make its contribution to that reduction.

In order to mitigate the impact on frontline services of the reduction in employment numbers, the priority is to reform how health services are delivered in order to ensure a more productive and cost effective health system. The revised working arrangements provided for in the Haddington Road Agreement are a pivotal element in this regard. It should be noted that, subject to approval by senior managers, arrangements are in place in the HSE to allow the recruitment of staff where it has been established that there is an urgent service requirement.

Universal Health Insurance Provision

Questions (415)

Robert Dowds

Question:

415. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health the way he will move to a situation whereby this country creates a fair and equal health service where persons receive health care on the basis of need rather than income. [36920/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am committed to a major agenda of health reform, in line with the commitments contained in the Programme for Government and our policy statement, Future Health. I want to push ahead as soon as possible with key reforms in areas such as extending free GP care on a phased basis, improving the management of chronic diseases, implementing key financial reforms including Money Follows the Patient, and establishing hospital groups as a critical enabler of improving patient quality and efficiency.

When I became Minister for Health I reviewed our progress to date and the timescales for implementing very important reforms, including Universal Health Insurance, based on universal entitlement to a single-tier health service, that is based on need, not income.

I remain committed to implementing the important improvements that a UHI system is intended to bring. While I believe that it will not be possible to introduce a full UHI system by 2019, as envisaged in the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance, I want to emphasise my commitment to implementing reforms based on UHI and the White Paper. In order to do this I want to examine some key elements further and then to decide on the best way forward.

The Government published the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance in April of this year and my Department initiated a consultation process on it. An independent analysis of the submissions is underway and I expect to receive this report in the next week.

My Department has also initiated a major costing exercise to estimate the cost of UHI for households and the Exchequer and is working closely with the ESRI and the Health Insurance Authority and initial costings should be available by the end of quarter one in 2015.

The independent thematic analysis of submissions from the consultation process on the White Paper and the results of the major costing exercise on UHI will assist in charting a clear course towards the objective of a universal, single-tier health service.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (416)

Robert Dowds

Question:

416. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on hospital waiting lists. [36921/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Obesity Strategy

Questions (417)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

417. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if his Department carried out research into the way a fat tax could be imposed and, if so, if he will provide this research. [36934/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As part of the work of the Special Action Group on Obesity, consideration was given to the imposition of a levy on Sugar Sweetened Drinks. Before any decision in the matter could be taken, the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) was requested by the Department of Health to undertake a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of a proposed levy on Sugar Sweetened Drinks (SSDs). The HIA Report is available on the Department of Health website.

Audiology Services Provision

Questions (418)

Denis Naughten

Question:

418. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 652 of 17 July 2014, if he will provide an update; if approval has been obtained for the project; the current status of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36940/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has been asked to examine the issue raised by the Deputy, which relates to the soundproofing of an audiology room, and to reply to him directly.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (419)

Denis Naughten

Question:

419. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health when the national immunisation advisory committee will be making a decision regarding immunisation against meningitis B; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36942/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The immunisation programme in Ireland is based on the advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). The NIAC is a committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland comprising of experts in a number of specialties including infectious diseases, paediatrics and public health.

The NIAC has not made any recommendation in relation to the use of Meningitis B vaccine in the primary childhood immunisation programme in Ireland. However NIAC has issued guidance in relation to the use of the Meningitis B vaccine in the control of clusters or outbreaks of Meningococcal B disease. Deliberation regarding the introduction of Meningococcal B into the primary immunisation schedule continues. New parameters as used by the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are being included.

Medical Card Reviews

Questions (420)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

420. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if the medical card reviews for people aged over 70 years, which were suspended last May, have been recommenced; if so, if he will publish the new framework for awarding medical cards which was due to be in place before the review recommenced; if he will provide details of the estimated cost of this review and if he will explain the rationale for the review considering the plans to introduce free general practitioner care for people aged over 70 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36947/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the arrangements effected by the Health Act 2008, a simplified system of assessment for eligibility was made available to persons aged 70 or over, based on the significantly higher gross income limits rather than the net income thresholds under the standard means test.

In Budget 2014, it was announced that this gross income limit for a medical card for persons aged over 70's was set at €500 per week for a single person and at €900 per week for a couple.

However, persons aged 70 or older may also have their eligibility assessed under the standard means test, where they wish to take account of high expenses, e.g., nursing home or medication costs. This assessment is based on net income and assessable outgoing expenses and the qualifying income thresholds under this test are lower than over 70's gross income limits.

In May of this year, the HSE decided to suspend reviews of medical cards held on a discretionary basis only, not reviews of over 70's medical cards. The suspension of the reviews of discretionary cards is still in place. The Government has decided to prioritise the over 70’s in the next phase of the roll-out of free access to GP care. The Government has approved the drafting of a Bill to provide a GP service without fees for all persons aged 70 years and over. Drafting of the Bill has commenced and is the subject on ongoing interaction between the Department and the Attorney-General’s Office. The expectation is that the Health (General Practitioner Service) (No. 2) Bill 2014 will be published shortly. The aim is to have the over 70’s phase implemented this year or early next year, subject to the conclusion of discussions between the Department of Health, the HSE and the IMO.

Under the current legislation, persons who do not hold a medical card can benefit from the Drugs Payment Scheme which caps the monthly payments, for an individual or family, at €144 per calendar month for approved prescribed medicines.

Hospital Facilities

Question No. 422 answered with Question No. 346.

Questions (421)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

421. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the supports offered to Cork University Hospital in rectifying the continuing laboratory information management system problems; if financial assistance will be made available; the alternative arrangements that have been put in place to ensure accurate and timely blood test results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36948/14]

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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.

Question No. 422 answered with Question No. 346.

Dental Services Provision

Questions (423)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

423. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of Health Service Executive dentists and dental services that have been withdrawn from local health centres, by town and county, in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36964/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The information requested by the Deputy is not routinely available in the Department. I have asked the Health Service Executive to collate the information and reply directly to the Deputy.

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