Cancer Screening Programmes

Questions (345)

Micheál Martin

Question:

345. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a request from a group (details supplied) to meet a person to share the experiences of women before the panel sets out the criteria for the way in which the women will be assessed; if a meeting will take place in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16156/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

On 11 March 2019, the Government agreed to the establishment of an ex-gratia scheme for women affected by the non-disclosure of the CervicalCheck audit. The Scheme is designed to provide an alternative, non-adversarial and person-centred option for women affected by the CervicalCheck non-disclosure issue. The Scheme will be up and running in the coming weeks.

The Government also approved the appointment of an Independent Assessment Panel, comprising a retired High Court Judge (who will act as Chair), an independent clinician and a person of good standing.  The Chair of the Independent Assessment Panel is Mr. Justice Aindrias Ó Caoimh. I will appoint the other two members shortly. 

I am not aware of any request for a meeting to which the Deputy refers. 

My Department is currently engaging with the HSE in order to finalise arrangements for communicating invitations to the women. The invitations notification will explain the scope and purpose of the Scheme and the eligibility criteria. A consent form will be enclosed, along with any other necessary documentation including the terms of the Scheme. I expect that the invitations will be issued shortly and following this, full details of the Scheme will be published on my Department's website.

Care of the Elderly

Questions (346)

Mary Butler

Question:

346. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health if there is support for older persons to assist them in the costs of purchasing a mobility scooter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16172/19]

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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 to the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Questions (347)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

347. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when wheelchairs will be made available for persons (details supplied); the timeframe to receive such equipment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16181/19]

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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 to the Deputy.

HSE Properties

Questions (348)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

348. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health the specific planned use of a building (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16183/19]

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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.

Birth Data

Questions (349)

Seán Fleming

Question:

349. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health the number of births in each hospital in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16184/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly.

Assisted Human Reproduction Legislation

Questions (350, 445)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

350. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Health his plans in respect of the assisted human reproduction Bill to include recognising same-sex male and female families that have used international surrogacy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16188/19]

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Seán Haughey

Question:

445. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if he will amend the general scheme of the assisted human reproduction Bill to include same-sex male families that have used international surrogacy as a way to create their families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16600/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 350 and 445 together.

In October 2017, the Government approved the drafting of a Bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) and associated areas of research, based on the published General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health is currently conducting a review of the General Scheme as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, which began in January of last year. The review is in progress and the Joint Committee intends to report thereon before the summer recess. The recommendations in the Committee’s Report will be considered during the ongoing process of drafting this Bill in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.

The aim of the AHR legislation is to promote and ensure the health and safety of parents, others involved in the process (such as donors and surrogate mothers) and, most importantly, the children who will be born as a result of AHR. Consideration of the welfare and best interests of children born through AHR is a key principle underpinning the Scheme.

The specific provisions relating to surrogacy are outlined in Part 6 of the General Scheme. These provisions outline the specific conditions under which surrogacy in Ireland will be permitted, including a requirement for all surrogacy agreements to be pre-authorised by the AHR Regulatory Authority, the establishment of which the Bill will provide for. The Scheme also sets out a court-based mechanism through which the parentage of a child born through surrogacy may be transferred from the surrogate (and her husband, if applicable) to the intending parent(s).

In addition, under the surrogacy provisions at least one of the intending parents will have to be genetically related to the child. Surrogacy will be permitted on an altruistic basis where the payment of defined and receiptable reasonable expenses will be allowed. However, commercial surrogacy in Ireland will be prohibited as it raises a number of concerns relating to the welfare and commodification of the children involved as well as the potential risks of coercion and exploitation of financially vulnerable women to act as surrogates.

The General Scheme does not regulate Irish citizens being involved in international commercial surrogacy agreements in other countries. However, the Department of Justice and Equality published a guidance document in 2012 on citizenship, parentage, guardianship and travel document issues in relation to children born as a result of surrogacy arrangements entered into outside the State. The purpose of this document is to provide information to prospective intending parents on the steps necessary to ensure that a child born abroad through a surrogacy arrangement may enter and reside in the State and to secure the best interests of the child. This guidance document is available on the website of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Home Care Packages Provision

Questions (351)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

351. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if home care support will be facilitated in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16189/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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 question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Fibromyalgia Support Services

Questions (352)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

352. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health the supports in place for persons suffering from fibromyalgia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16190/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome associated with wide-spread pain and fatigue. It is labelled a syndrome as fibromyalgia is a collection of signs, symptoms and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause. 

There are supports available for the sufferers of this condition. Even though there are no plans at present to add fibromyalgia to the list of conditions currently listed under the Long Term illness scheme (LTI), any patient with a condition, not listed under LTI, is eligible to apply to the Drugs Payment Scheme or to apply for a Medical Card.

Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €124 a month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals with ongoing expenditure on medicines.

People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the HSE can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family.  

People who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of GP consultations.

General medical services are provided by GPs. If the patients clinical condition warrants a referral to a Consultant then their GP will organise that for them.

Disability Services Funding

Questions (353)

Seán Fleming

Question:

353. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health the position regarding funding for a society (details supplied) for 2018 and 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16191/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

A commitment of €60,000 additional funding is being provided to the Irish Deaf Society under a cross-departmental initiative.

The funding is a once-off grant for the purpose of developing a Business Plan and implementation strategy setting out a clear and detailed pathway to financial sustainability. Pobal are assisting in the oversight of the additional funds and related activities.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (354)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

354. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding hospital waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16193/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The 2019 Scheduled Care Access Plan was published last month. Under the Plan the HSE, in line with the National Service Plan, will aim to deliver 1.155 million elective inpatient and day case discharges, as well as 3.3 million outpatient appointments, of which approximately 1 million will be first appointments. The Access Plan also sets out activity levels for the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) who, following an increase in funding in Budget 2019 to €75 million, will supply additionality to HSE activity by arranging both insourced and outsourced appointments and treatments to reduce waiting times experienced by patients.

This year the Plan will place a particular focus on ten high volume procedures, including cataracts, joint replacements, tonsils and angiograms. Through the combined activity of the HSE and the NTPF, projections are that for these procedures, all clinically suitable patients waiting more than 6 months will be offered treatment in 2019. Projections under the Plan aim to reduce the overall number of patients on the waiting list for hospital operations and procedures from just over 70,200 in Dec 2018 to under 60,000.

The Access Plan ensures an appropriate balance between high volume activities and offering treatment to complex long waiting patients. The NTPF will do this by inviting public hospitals to seek solutions for very long waiters either in the private sector or through insourcing.

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

Home Help Service Eligibility

Questions (355)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

355. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the status of an application for increased home help hours by persons (details supplied); and when they can expect a decision on their case. [16199/19]

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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.

Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Questions (356)

John Brassil

Question:

356. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health if he will recommend the HSE fund the drug Ocrelizumab for multiple sclerosis patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16210/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for medicine pricing and reimbursement decisions, in accordance with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.  The Act specifies the criteria for decisions on the reimbursement of medicines. The Minister for Health has no role in this statutory process. 

The NCPE completed a health technology assessment on 29 August 2018 for Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) for the treatment of adult patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS). They recommended that Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) not be considered for reimbursement unless cost-effectiveness can be improved relative to existing treatments.

On 4 October 2018 the NCPE completed their assessment for Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) indicated for the treatment of adult patients with early primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). They did not recommend that Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) be reimbursed for this indication.  

The HSE is the statutory decision-making body for medicine reimbursement. It will make the final decision on whether Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) will be reimbursed for each of these indications, taking into consideration the statutory criteria contained in the 2013 Health Act.

I am advised by the HSE that there has been considerable engagement between the HSE and the manufacturer over the past number of months.  Commercial discussions are ongoing and additional meetings are expected to take place in the coming weeks between the company and the HSE.

Mental Health Services

Questions (357)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

357. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health his plans to adopt the United Kingdom system in which a person having a psychotic or psychiatric episode must be assessed in a hospital before being detained in police custody; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16215/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Almost 90% of admissions to psychiatric hospitals or units are on a voluntary basis where the person consents to admission and treatment.

The Mental Health Commission in their 2017 Annual Report confirm that there were 1,770 involuntary admissions from the community to psychiatric hospitals and units that year.  In a quarter of those admissions, the application for admission was made by a member of the Gardaí. 

It is important to point out that the Mental Health Act 2001 sets out the formal procedures that must be followed in all circumstances where an involuntary admission can take place.

The three-step process for such admissions from the community requires an initial application by a person for a recommendation to have an individual involuntarily admitted.  Such applications can be made by a family member, an Authorised Officer of the HSE, a Garda or any other person.  To make the application, there must be concerns about the mental health and welfare of the individual.

The second step is for the individual to be examined by a Registered Medical Practitioner. In the event that he or she is satisfied that the individual is suffering from a mental disorder as defined in section 3 of the 2001 Act, he or she will make a recommendation that the individual be involuntarily admitted.

The third step requires the Consultant Psychiatrist on duty in the psychiatric hospital or unit to then examine the individual. If the Consultant Psychiatrist is satisfied that the individual is suffering from a mental disorder as defined in section 3 of the 2001 Act, then he or she will make an order admitting the individual.

Section 12 of the Mental Health Act 2001 authorises a member of the Gardaí who has reasonable grounds for believing that an individual is suffering from a mental disorder and that because of the mental disorder there is a serious likelihood of the individual causing immediate and serious harm to himself or herself or to other persons, to either take the individual into custody, or enter by force any dwelling or other premises or any place if he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that the individual is to be found there.  Where the individual is taken into custody, a member of the Gardaí then makes the application to a Registered Medical Practitioner for a recommendation.

An Expert Group Review of the Mental Health Act 2001 reported in 2015 and the draft heads of an amending bill based on the recommendations of the Expert Group will soon be sent to the Mental Health Commission for review.  The Expert Group did not recommend any significant change to the current provisions regarding the authority currently vested in the Gardaí under the 2001 Act to take individuals into custody with a view to having the individual assessed for admission to a psychiatric hospital or unit on an involuntary basis.

On that basis, I have no plans to amend legislation to remove the authority of Gardaí to take individuals into custody under the 2001 Act.

Mental Health Services Data

Questions (358)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

358. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the number of patients waiting for psychiatric beds; the number of those in prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16216/19]

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.

Health Services Provision

Questions (359)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

359. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the timeline for the launch of a project (details supplied) which has been announced for County Tipperary; the location of the service; the level of finance ring fenced to support the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16221/19]

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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.

Long Stay Residential Units

Questions (360)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

360. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the location persons that need long-term stay care in Roscrea, County Tipperary will be accommodated (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16228/19]

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.

Fibromyalgia Support Services

Questions (361)

Catherine Martin

Question:

361. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health if consideration has been given to including fibromyalgia on the long term illness scheme; the findings if such consideration was given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16229/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The LTI Scheme was established under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended). The conditions covered by the LTI are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of thalidomide.

Under the LTI Scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge.

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Scheme at this time. However, I wish to inform the Deputy that the LTI Scheme will be included as part of a review of the current eligibility framework, including the basis for existing hospital and medication charges, to be carried out under commitments given in the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.

For people who are not eligible for the LTI scheme, there are other arrangements which protect them from excessive medicine costs.

Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €124 a month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals with ongoing expenditure on medicines.

People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the HSE can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. 

People who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of GP consultations.

National Maternity Strategy Implementation

Questions (362, 363)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

362. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health the funding provided for the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy 2016 to 2026 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16233/19]

View answer

Mattie McGrath

Question:

363. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will address concerns that no new development funding for the National Maternity Strategy 2016 to 2026 will be made available in 2019, specifically funding for the development of quality, safe, consistent and well resourced care in the 19 maternity units nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16234/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 362 and 363 together.

Implementation of the National Maternity Strategy is continuing, led by the HSE National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP).  The Strategy represents a significant development in the delivery of national maternity policy that will fundamentally change how maternity care is delivered in this country. 

In 2016, the year the Strategy was launched, development funding of €3m was provided for maternity services.  This was followed by increased funding of €6.8m in 2017.  In 2018, €4.15m development funding was allocated to the NWIHP to progress the Strategy.  Funding of €3.1m is being made available to the NWIHP in 2019 to continue services introduced in 2018, along with an additional €1m funding to further progress the Strategy. 

Funding allocated to-date for the Strategy’s implementation, has helped to improve the quality and safety of our maternity services through the recruitment of additional midwives, consultants, theatre staff, ultrasonographers and quality and safety managers, by increasing access to routine anomaly scanning and through the roll-out of the Maternal and Newborn Clinical Management System. My Department will continue to work with the NWIHP in 2019 to support the ongoing implementation of the Strategy.