Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 121.

EU Regulations

Questions (125)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

125. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health when the draft regulation under section 12(1) of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 will be finalised for submission to the EU under regulation EU 1169/2011; if this regulation will provide for obligatory bilingual warnings in view of the fact that the research (details supplied) quoted by him in Dáil Éireann did not provide objective proof that bilingual warnings such as this were less effective; the length of time it will take to obtain EU approval for the implementation of these regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48677/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Sections 12(4) and 12(5) of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act provide that the health information to be on notices in licensed premises and on websites that sell alcohol products must be in both the English and the Irish language. Regulations made in relation to those requirements will therefore include the requirement for bilingual information.

Section 12(1) on the health information to be on the labels of alcohol products does not contain a requirement that this information be in the English and the Irish language. It is not my intention to attempt to go beyond the legislation as made by the Houses of the Oireachtas in making those regulations.

It is my intention that the relevant draft regulations will be finalised for submission to the European Commission by year-end. The length of time taken to approve those regulations is a matter for the Commission.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (126, 127)

Robert Troy

Question:

126. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the number of personal assistant hours allocated in County Westmeath in the past five years, in tabular form. [48678/18]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

127. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the number of personal assistant hours allocated in County Longford in the past five years, in tabular form. [48679/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 and 127 together.

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. 

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

Medicinal Products Availability

Questions (128)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

128. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if a drug will be provided to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48680/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, the HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug schemes; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Orthodontic Services Data

Questions (129)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

129. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the number of orthodontists employed by the HSE to cover County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48685/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Patient Transfers

Questions (130)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

130. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health when a patient (details supplied) will transfer from Letterkenny University Hospital to St. Vincent’s Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48687/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Hospital Services

Questions (131)

Mick Wallace

Question:

131. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health the status of the University Hospital Waterford second cath laboratory project (details supplied). [48689/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy is aware, I have decided to proceed with the provision of a second cath lab in University Hospital Waterford based on the HSE’s preferred option for its location and operation. It is intended that the cost of progressing the project to design, planning and construction stages will be considered in the context of the HSE’s Capital Plan for 2019.

Primary Care Centres Provision

Questions (132)

John Brassil

Question:

132. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 132 of 20 September 2018, if a reply has been received from the developer; if planning permission and legal agreements have commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48690/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the HSE has responsibility for the provision, along with the maintenance and operation of Primary Care Centres and other Primary Care facilities, the Executive has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy.

Medicinal Products Availability

Questions (133)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

133. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health when a decision will issue in relation to Translarna; and if the HSE will reimburse Translarna for the five boys who require same. [48697/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines, in accordance with the provisions of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Questions (134)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

134. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if the recent application submitted for Translarna came before the technology review committee for rare diseases. [48698/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines, in accordance with the provisions of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Questions (135)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

135. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if there will be engagement with or inclusion of patient representation as part of the assessment process for Translarna. [48699/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines, in accordance with the provisions of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Questions (136, 137)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

136. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if the assessment process for orphan drugs has changed. [48700/18]

View answer

Billy Kelleher

Question:

137. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health his plans to revise the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013 to allow for a different and unique rule set to specifically apply when assessing orphan drugs in view of the fact that the current assessment process for orphan drugs is not fit for purpose. [48701/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.

The Oireachtas has put in place a robust legal framework for medicines reimbursement in the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, which gives full statutory powers to the HSE to assess and make decisions on the reimbursement of medicines. The Act sets out criteria for medicine reimbursement decisions.  

The 2013 Act requires the HSE to have regard to both clinical benefits and cost effectiveness, but it does not provide for a different rule set when assessing orphan drugs. It would take an act of the Oireachtas to change the current assessment process for medicines. However, both the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE) and the HSE are mindful of the differences and challenges in terms of patient numbers when assessing this type of medicine.

The NCPE conducts health technology assessments (HTAs) for the HSE and makes recommendations on reimbursement to assist HSE decisions. The NCPE uses a decision framework to systematically assess whether a drug is cost-effective as a health intervention.

There has been substantial engagement between the Department, the HSE and the NCPE over the last number of months, which has resulted in a number of key changes in the HSE medicines assessment process, within the confines of the 2013 Health Act. 

  In June 2018, the HSE leadership appointed a Technology Review Committee for Rare Diseases, which is responsible for:

1. Reviewing proposals received from industry or expert groups in Ireland for funding of new products for rare diseases or expanded indications for existing products for rare diseases and making recommendations on the implementation of the relevant recommendations from the National Rare Diseases Plan 2011-2018; and

2. Contributing to the development of clinical guidelines for relevant orphan medicinal products (OMPs) and supporting the implementation of guidelines with the National Drugs Management Programme Office where applicable.

The Committee’s recommendations for reimbursement of OMPs are not intended to replace any part of the existing medicines appraisal process, but rather to complement it.

The Technology Review Committee for Rare Diseases is intended to provide greater balance and transparency to the assessment process. The inclusion of two public or patient representatives, from a selected panel of three, recognises the value of having patient representation on the Committee. As well as examining the methodologies for assessing orphan drugs, the Committee will also consider the views of patients, caregivers and the wider issues that go into health technology assessments.

This Committee is operational and has already completed work in relation to orphan products.

  The composition of the HSE Drugs Group has recently been expanded to include two representatives from the National Patients Forum and more clinical expertise in the area of rare diseases.  

In light of these developments, I do not propose to bring forward proposals to change the assessment criteria for orphan drugs, which would require the approval of the Oireachtas.

Care of the Elderly

Questions (138, 139, 140)

Barry Cowen

Question:

138. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health the estimated cost of replacing all nursing home facilities with retirement villages; if a detailed impact assessment has been undertaken on the proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48711/18]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

139. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health the number of residents in nursing home care facilities nationwide. [48712/18]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

140. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health the estimated number of persons requiring nursing home care in five, ten, 15 and 20 years according to demographic analysis. [48713/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 to 140, inclusive, together.

A key principle underpinning Government policy is to support older people to live in their own home with dignity and independence for as long as possible. The changing demographics and the implications for future health care costs underpin the importance of developing a wider choice of appropriate housing options for older people suited to their needs.  The aim is to encourage and facilitate timely planning by older people and to rebalance the care model away from residential care to supporting older people to remain living independently at home for longer.  As the research shows, this reflects the preferences of older people themselves. 

The aim is to ensure that older people will have more choice by developing a range of housing options that are suited to their needs, so they can plan ahead and, insofar as possible, choose the right option for them. These options may include retirement villages, housing with supports projects or other initiatives. 

Varying levels of support will be needed to enable older people to continue living in their own homes and communities, including care needs where appropriate. However, it is envisaged that there will always be a cohort of people for whom residential nursing home care is the most appropriate option. The main issue is the significant gap in alternative or intermediary options. This is the issue that I wish to address. There is a significant need to put in place suitable options to give older people the choice and importantly, to ensure that care is provided in the most appropriate setting. This aligns with the vision of Sláintecare where there is an overarching aim to bring care closer to the community and the person's home. 

The Capacity Review published earlier this year, in addition to recognising the pressures being faced across the health system in terms of access to healthcare, was also an indication of the Government’s desire to plan appropriately for the future. Analysis of future scenarios (based on demographic projections and taking account of envisaged reform measures) shows potential requirements for the period to 2031. On the back of these findings, the Government committed to providing 4,500 additional short and long term residential care beds in the National Development Plan. The exact criteria for the planning and design of these beds will be evaluated on a phased basis as the projects are approved.  

Currently more than 23,200 people are supported in nursing homes under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. This figure does not include those in short stay or transitional care beds. The Health Information & Quality Authority website has information on the number of registered beds for each designated residential care centre, public and private.

On November 20 I hosted an expert conference on housing for older people with my colleague Mr. Damien English T.D. Minister for Housing and Urban Development. The overwhelming outcome of the event, shared by the experts, was that choice and the development of a range of community supports and services in close proximity to older people is the key to achieving the objective of keeping people living longer and independently in their communities. The outcome of this conference will be used by my officials and officials of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to inform the development of a suitable policy framework for housing for older people.

Nursing Home Services

Questions (141)

Barry Cowen

Question:

141. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health the number of persons on waiting lists for nursing homes nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48714/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Questions (142)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

142. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 391 of 18 September 2018, the progress that has been made since in relation to an application for the reimbursement of Translarna from a company (details supplied). [48720/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines, in accordance with the provisions of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

Orthodontic Services Provision

Questions (143)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

143. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal will be called for orthodontic treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48721/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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