Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (441)

Clare Daly


441. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a recent case of CPE on a children’s ward in University Hospital Limerick; and his views on the fact that the hospital is not fully equipped to prevent the spread of CPE in view of this latest case. [21966/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The prevention and control of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has been a significant patient safety and public health priority for the Department of Health for numerous years. The activities to address this are outlined in Ireland’s National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, 2017-2018, which was published in October 2017.  

Over the last eighteen months, a number of measures have been put in place through the work of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET):

- The HSE has implemented strong governance arrangements for healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) and AMR.

- The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has also driven enhanced surveillance of HCAIs, including the production of monthly surveillance reports on CPE.

- The Department of Health has provided additional funding for prioritised posts in both the acute and community sectors to build capacity or infection prevention and control. These have included posts for the national antimicrobial resistance team, additional posts for laboratory/screening activities, and infection prevention and control teams including posts for University Hospital Limerick.

- A suite of publicly available guidance documents have been developed by the Expert Group convened by the NPHET which provide expert advice to hospitals and the community health care services regarding actions that should be taken regarding CPE screening and control of spread of CPE.

- A dedicated HSE communications resource and website with focused information and education tools is in place.

While the number of newly diagnosed CPE patients has slightly increased, this is in the context of substantially increased screening activity over the past year.

The Department, in recognising the challenges of CPE for the health system, dedicated funding for HCAIs/AMR in 2018, which provides for a full year cost of €2 million. This included resourcing for University Hospital Limerick.  A further €5 million has been allocated in 2019. The HSE has prioritised work programmes for this funding in line with HCAI/AMR risk. A number of posts are now in place and recruitment continues. 

The Department will continue to engage with the HSE and other stakeholders to ensure that AMR, HCAIs and CPE in particular remain a priority.

Regarding the specific case the Deputy has referred to, I have requested that the HSE reply directly.