Drug and Alcohol Task Forces

Questions (201)

Niall Collins

Question:

201. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of drugs and alcohol task forces in respect of the failures of his Department to grant additional funding to allow them deal effectively with the alcohol remit; if his attention has been further drawn to the importance of this issue; his plans to respond to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12543/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Department of Health allocated funding of almost €100m to the HSE for addiction services in 2019. The HSE National Service Plan 2019 sets out the type and volume of addiction services to be provided, having regard to the funding allocated.

In addition, the Department provides a further €28m to Drug and Alcohol Task Forces through various channels of funding, including the HSE.

Measuring the overall effectiveness of the response to the drug problem is an important objective of government policy. To this end, the national drugs strategy commits to operationalising a performance measurement system of Drug and Alcohol Task Forces by 2020.

Last week I announced additional funding of €1 million for implementation of the National Drugs Strategy.

The funding, which will be provided on a recurring, multi-annual basis, will address the priorities set down in the Strategy including early harm reduction responses, emerging trends in substance misuse (including polydrug use and crack cocaine), and improving services for at-risk groups.

The funding will complement enhancements in drug and alcohol treatment services relating to mental health and homelessness under the 2019 HSE National Service Plan.

Working in partnership with statutory, community and voluntary sectors is central to this response. I will be consulting with the Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and the HSE on how best to target this new funding. I have issued an invitation to the Task Forces to a meeting in the Department of Health at the end March to begin this process.

Hospital Deaths

Questions (202)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

202. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the length of time after a miscarriage a child is buried following the parents signing consent to the relevant hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12557/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the query raised by the Deputy relates to an operational issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Review

Questions (203)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

203. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health the status of the review of the system for setting prices under the nursing home support scheme; if he is satisfied that the process has been conducted efficiently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12575/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost. The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.

The Report of the NHSS Review published in 2015 identified a number of issues for more detailed consideration, including a review of the pricing mechanism used by the NTPF, with a view to:

- Ensuring value for money and economy, with the lowest possible administrative costs for clients and the State and administrative burden for providers;

- Increasing the transparency of the pricing mechanism so that existing and potential investors can make as informed decisions as possible; and

- Ensuring that there is adequate residential capacity for those residents with more complex needs.

A Steering Group was established to oversee and manage the pricing review. The Steering Group is chaired by the NTPF and includes representatives from the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER). As part of its work on the review the NTPF sought various inputs including external expertise and stakeholder engagement to inform the review. These inputs are being considered in detail.

I understand that the NTPF is now close to completing the report and it is expected that the Steering Group will be provided with a final draft very shortly. Once complete the report of the review will then be submitted to the Department of Health.

It is recognised that any change to any part of the Scheme must be considered in terms of the short- and long-term impact on the viability of the Scheme and accessibility of long-term residential care in general. It is therefore important that the relevant issues are considered thoroughly through the review process.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (204)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

204. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the HPV vaccine. [12577/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As Minister of Health I have no remit in relation to educational programmes carried out in schools. School Boards of Management are independent bodies that work together with the Principal of the school to make decisions on visits from external bodies and/or individuals. My Department has been informed that the individual referred to is not associated with the HSE and was not acting on the HSE’s behalf.

As the HPV vaccine is preventative it is intended to be administered, if possible, before a person becomes sexually active, that is, before a person is first exposed to HPV infection. The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has now recommended that human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine should be given to all 12 year old girls and boys.

A policy decision was made to extend the HPV immunisation programme to include boys and introduce a 9-valent HPV vaccine starting in September 2019. Extending the HPV vaccine to boys will provide direct protection against HPV-related disease to boys. It also provides indirect herd protection to girls who have not been vaccinated. Another important factor includes the additional protection provided by a gender-neutral programme to vulnerable groups (for example, men who have sex with men).

The HSE National Immunisation Office are currently working towards preparing a gender-neutral HPV programme. Information materials and training on this will be available for parents and healthcare professionals in advance of the start of the gender-neutral programme.

Nursing Home Accommodation Provision

Questions (205)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

205. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if a long-term stay bed will be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [12578/19]

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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.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (206)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

206. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health if the meningitis vaccination for children is provided under the general medical card scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12591/19]

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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.

National Children's Hospital Expenditure

Questions (207)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

207. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the way in which the projected overrun in the cost of the new children's hospital occurred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12603/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under its Establishment Order, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) has statutory responsibility for planning, designing, building and equipping the new children's hospital and outpatient and urgent care centres in accordance with a brief approved by the HSE with the prior consent of the Minister for Health, and subject to any subsequent variations to this brief as may be determined by the Executive in consultation with the Board, and with the prior consent of the Minister.

The size, complexity and specialist nature of this project informed the decision by the NPHDB to adopt a two-stage procurement process as follows:

- Procurement stage 1: a full tender and contract for Phase A on the basis of a detailed design, with the tendering of Phase B on a preliminary 1st stage design with an approximate and remeasurable bill of quantities reflecting the preliminary 1st stage design; and

- Procurement stage 2: While the basement Phase A works were under construction, the 2nd stage detailed design for the above ground Phase B works was completed. This was done on a remeasurable basis with a full bill of quantities priced at the 1st stage preliminary design tendered rates.

Tender bids were received by the NPHDB at the end of October 2016. In February 2017 the NPHDB submitted the Final Project Brief to the HSE for review seeking the Minister for Health’s consent and HSE approval in line with the approval process set out in the Board’s Establishment Order. In April 2017, I brought a Memorandum to Government advising of the outcome of the tender process undertaken by the NPHDB with associated capital costs of €983m of which €916m was to be met by the Exchequer, and seeking approval for the construction investment decision, following which the HSE approved the Project Brief with my prior consent.

In November 2018, following completion of the second stage of the two-stage tender procurement process, the NPHDB advised that the final cost of the design, build and equipment programme for which the NPHDB is responsible was €1,433 million, €450m more than advised to Government in April 2017. In December 2018 I brought a further Memorandum to Government of the revised costs and Government approved the construction investment to allow Phase B of the hospital to be instructed.

As the Deputy will be aware, an independent review of the escalation in cost in relation to the new children's hospital is underway. Its terms of reference have been published. Inter alia, the review will establish the sequence of events in relation to the cost increases experienced by the project.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (208)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

208. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the timeframe for the provision of the new community hospital in Killarney, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12606/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to the community nursing unit in Killarney Co. Kerry.

Defibrillators in Schools Provision

Questions (209)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

209. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health if funding will be provided for a defibrillator to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12610/19]

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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 attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Card Data

Questions (210)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

210. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the number of medical cards issued in each of the past five years; the number of applications refused and subsequently refused or granted on appeal in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12612/19]

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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 attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

I would like to bring the following to the Deputy's attention. The HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Service publishes monthly reports on the HSE website. These reports provide up to date data on the number of persons who hold a medical card, general practitioner card and discretionary medical card.