Health Services Data

Questions Nos 703 to 706, inclusive, answered with Question No. 698.

Questions (702)

Carol Nolan

Question:

702. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health the number of complaints made in respect of the pathways programme which has the role of assisting women injured by mesh. [18724/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy's question relates to an operational issue, I have referred the matter to the HSE for direct reply.

Questions Nos 703 to 706, inclusive, answered with Question No. 698.

Respite Care Services Funding

Questions (707)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

707. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health if individual weekly or monthly payments are being made to some carers in order to provide funding for independently obtained home respite service; if so, the way in which this payment is advertised to all carers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18743/19]

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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.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (708, 709, 710, 711)

Catherine Martin

Question:

708. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health the number of the children’s disability network manager’s posts advertised on 19 November 2018 that were filled and in place by the end of quarter 1 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18749/19]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

709. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a facility (details supplied) has been allocated 0.8 of a speech and language therapist resource for 117 children; his views on whether this is in breach of Article 24, Section 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18750/19]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

710. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health if he will seek the provision of emergency speech and language therapist cover in a facility (details supplied) until the progressing disability services programme is completed in view of the fact there is only 0.8 speech and language therapist posts allocated for 117 children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18751/19]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

711. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health the reason there is a delay in completing the progressing disability services programme; when the programme will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18752/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 708 to 711, inclusive, 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 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.

Ministerial Invitations

Questions (712)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

712. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health if he or his officials or political staff were recipients of tickets and-or hospitality from an organisation (details supplied) during the term of office of a person; the details of each occasion tickets and-or hospitality was provided by the organisation during this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18764/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am regularly invited to attend games by the organisation and I have attended on one occasion. From my recollection, it was Ireland V Austria in June 2017. My political staff have not received tickets and or hospitality from the named organisation.

Civil servants who occupy positions which are "designated positions" for purposes of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 (the Ethics Acts) have certain statutory obligations in relation to disclosure of interests. Those obligations are additional to any which apply generally to civil servants under the provisions of the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour.

In summary, established civil servants at Principal Officer level and upwards are affected by the provisions of the Ethics Acts. The Ethics Acts also apply to a range of less senior positions (e.g. posts dealing with contracts or in commercially sensitive areas), and to advisors who are appointed personally by Ministers, and who serve as unestablished civil servants for the length of their Minister's tenure of office.

In general under the Ethics Acts and Civil Service Code all office holders are expected to adhere to the fundamental principle that an offer of gifts, hospitality or services should not be accepted where it would, or might appear to, place him or her under an obligation.

On five occasions, officials from the Health and Wellbeing Programme in the Department of Health have received invitations to attend Republic of Ireland national team matches, as part of attendance at conferences or other events which officials attend in the course of cross - Government activity to improve levels of physical activity. These were:

15 October 2013: FAI Stakeholders Conference “Positive Partnerships” followed by the Republic of Ireland Vs Kazakhstan;

18 November 2014: Launch of Project Futsal research report followed by Republic of Ireland vs USA;

08 October 2015: FAI Positive Partnerships Conference followed by Republic of Ireland vs Germany;

6 October 2017: FAI Stakeholders Conference “Positive Partnerships” followed by the Republic of Ireland vs Moldova;

16 October 2018: meeting of the “More Than A Club” Steering Committee, followed by Republic of Ireland vs Wales.

Genetic Data

Questions (713)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

713. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the legislative and regulatory framework governing the collection and use of patient genetic data under health research regulations; his plans to upgrade the law in this area; the measures underway at European level in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18765/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The primary legal instrument regulating the collection, use and disclosure of personal data, including genetic data, is the General Data Protection Regulation which came into effect in all Members States of the EU on 25 May 2018. Its provisions were given further effect to in the Data Protection Act 2018. One important difference between the GDPR and the previous EU Data Protection Directive is that the GDPR Regulation expressly recognises genetic data as a special category of personal data deserving of a high level of protection.

Mindful of the critical need to promote public confidence in how the health system treats all patient data but especially sensitive data like genetic data, I used the Regulation making power provided for in section 36 of the Data Protection Act to make, last August, the Health Research Regulations.

The Health Research Regulations are a coherent statement of public policy in the health research area based on internationally accepted best practice information principles for those carrying out health research and strong and focused safeguards for those whose personal data is being processed for health research. The collecting, use, storage and disclosure of genetic data for health research purposes is, therefore, not only governed by the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 but by the Health Research Regulations.

I also want to make the point that the preparation of the Regulations not only had full regard to the provisions of the GDPR but also to the Constitutional right to privacy, the Common Law duty of confidentiality between health professional and patient and the right to privacy provisions in and case law of the European Convention on Human Right (ECHR).

At the core of the Regulations are two related national and internationally accepted principles. First, support for the longstanding principle of patient confidentiality as a key value in our health system. Second, the promotion of patient empowerment in relation to their information to bring about a truly patient centred health service.

Consequently, the Regulations emphasise explicit consent of the data subject as the default position, provide for high levels of transparency which is a new core data protection principle and for information security controls to limit access to the personal data of individuals as well as controls to log who has accessed the data.

They also address the reality that those requirements for consent, transparency, security and other data subject’s rights mean very little if there is no clarity on where the responsibility lies for complying with them. That is why they tackle the crucial issue of the relationships between the institutions that hold the data being used in the research and the health researchers that carry out the research using that data. The rules and requirements in the Regulations are very clear especially when it comes to third party disclosures. Accordingly, all involved in a health research project must ensure that they know whether they are the data controller, a joint data controller or a data processor and comply fully not only with legal requirements but ethical ones too.

The consent declaration process provided for in the Regulations which is designed to facilitate publicly important health research where seeking consent is not possible -something found in other countries- is very tightly drawn and its criteria for when a consent declaration can be given is directed not only at GDPR considerations but also at the Common Law, Constitution and ECHR. That was done to ensure that all relevant factors must be addressed both in the application for a consent declaration and in the consideration of that declaration. It is the same reasoning that means that a declaration when granted can only ever extend to obtaining and using personal data required for the research or part of the research but such data cannot then be disclosed to anyone else without the consent of the data subject or a legal obligation to do so. It is also important to emphasise that a consent declaration cannot be given where a data subject has refused his or her consent to the use of his or her personal information for the research involved.

Everything that is provided for in the Health Research Regulations was subject to a series of discussions with the Data Protection Commission. The rigorous nature of that consultation process provided a very useful stress test. In particular, the Department and the Commission had careful regard to the issue of genetic data against the backdrop both of scientific developments in the genomics area and the GDPR requirement that genetic data, as a special category of sensitive personal data, is subject to strong safeguards.

Health research is indisputably important to better patient care and the development of innovative and life-saving therapies. As Minister for Health, I want to support health research and I believe most people do. I believe that the best way to do so is to promote and sustain greater public confidence in research through enhanced openness, transparency and patient empowerment so that no individual is surprised by who has access to his or her personal data and the uses, including research, to which it is put. Transparency and openness are especially important where it is proposed to share patient data with commercial third parties.

The Minister for Health does not have the power to give anyone permission to collect genetic data. If publicly funded or private health facilities collect such data for patient care and treatment they must do so in accordance with date protection law which means complying with the core data protection principles in Article 5, having a legal basis in Article 6 and meeting an appropriate condition in Article 9. They must also meet any ethical requirements.

If the facility wishes to use patient data collected for care and treatment for research to be carried out by the facility or to disclose it to a third party for that party to carry out research then they must also comply with the terms of the Health Research Regulations and explicit consent must be obtained and all the other safeguard required by the Regulations must be in place. It is a similar situation where the facility acts an agent or partner of a third party in collecting genetic data for health research.

Any publicly funded or private health facility holding patient data must ensure that it has proper governance in place that reflects and gives effect to its legal obligations. Failure to adhere to proper governance may have significant consequences under law for the institutions and any employees or agents involved. More widely, there will be collateral reputational damage affecting the health system generally.

To go back to a point I made early in this answer, I am mindful of the critical need to promote public confidence in how the health system treats all patient data but especially sensitive data like genetic data. Accordingly, as Minister, the collecting, use and disclosure of patient data is an area that I intend to keep under review and, in that regard, I will be mindful of legal and best practice developments at national and EU level that can be positively utilised to build confidence.

Genetic Data

Questions (714)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

714. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the publicly funded health facilities here that have given permission for the collection of genetic data; if permission for this has been granted; the legal or regulatory basis being used to permit the collection of genetic data from patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18766/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy raises a service matter I have asked the HSE to consider and respond directly to Deputy Rabbitte.

Home Help Service Provision

Questions (715)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

715. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health if extra home help hours will be provided to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18773/19]

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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.

HSE Staff

Questions (716, 727)

Seán Fleming

Question:

716. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health the areas in which a recruitment freeze has been implemented in the Health Service Executive; the community health areas in which this applies; the grade and categories of those included in same; the expected length of same in each area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18774/19]

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Robert Troy

Question:

727. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the length of time the moratorium in the Health Service Executive will last; and the positions that will be affected as a result. [18833/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 716 and 727 together.

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on these matters.

Hospital Appointments Administration

Questions (717)

Robert Troy

Question:

717. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the reason an alternative date for surgery has not been scheduled for a person (details supplied); and if the surgery will be expedited in view of the circumstances. [18799/19]

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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.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since 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 HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

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

Cross-Border Health Services Provision

Question No. 719 answered with Question No. 603.

Questions (718)

Robert Troy

Question:

718. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if a refund will be ensured for a person (details supplied) under the cross-border directive. [18803/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Question No. 719 answered with Question No. 603.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Data

Questions (720)

Michael McGrath

Question:

720. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the amount owed to the Health Service Executive under the nursing home support scheme as a result of the deferral by applicants by way of a charge on the family home of their liability in respect of that property under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18808/19]

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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.

Ambulance Service

Question No. 722 answered with Question No. 603.

Questions (721)

Robert Troy

Question:

721. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if the circumstances of an ambulance service call-out in relation to a person (details supplied) will be investigated. [18813/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.

Question No. 722 answered with Question No. 603.

General Practitioner Contracts

Questions (723)

Mick Wallace

Question:

723. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health when details of financial emergency measures in the public interest reversals will be communicated to general practitioners, in particular to general practitioners that are not members of an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18823/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am happy that we have been able to conclude an agreement with the IMO on a major package of GP contractual reforms which will benefit patients and general practitioners, and make general practice a more attractive career option for doctors.

Agreement has been reached on the provision of new services, including a structured chronic disease programme, commencing in 2020, which will benefit over 430,000 medical card and GP visit card patients. A wide-ranging set of modernisation measures has also been agreed in the areas of eHealth, medicines management and multidisciplinary working.

In return for cooperation with these service developments and reforms, the Government will increase investment in general practice by approximately 40% (or €210 million) over the next 4 years. This will see significant increases in capitation fees for GPs who participate in the reform programme and the introduction of new fees and subsidies for additional services such as the chronic disease programme.

There will be increased support for GPs working in rural practices and for those in disadvantaged urban areas. Improvements in the maternity and paternity leave arrangements have also been agreed, in recognition of the need to ensure that general practice is compatible with doctors’ family friendly commitments.

The HSE is currently drafting a circular setting out the terms of the contractual change. This circular will be issued to all GPs who hold a GMS contract, regardless of what organisation, if any, they are affiliated to. Each GP will then have the option of signing up to the reform measures which will allow them to access the new fees from 1 July 2019. I expect that the circular will issue to GPs in the coming weeks.

Assisted Human Reproduction Legislation

Questions (724)

Gino Kenny

Question:

724. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health his plans to introduce legislation in relation to surrogacy that is inclusive of same-sex male couples (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18824/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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. 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 Joint Committee intends to report thereon before the summer recess and the recommendations in its 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. Subject to certain conditions surrogacy will be available to people irrespective of gender, marital status or sexual orientation.

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.

Hospice Services Provision

Questions (725)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

725. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) can remain at a hospice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18830/19]

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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.

Hospital Services

Questions (726)

Mary Butler

Question:

726. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health if the lack of ear, nose and throat services in the south east, specifically in University Hospital Waterford which has waiting lists of 24 to 36 months for initial appointments will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18832/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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