Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Questions (353)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

353. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the status of freestyle libre being available on the long-term illness scheme for persons over 21 years of age and in the short-term making it exempt from VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21444/19]

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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.

Decisions in relation to taxation policy are a matter for the Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility

Questions (354)

Peter Burke

Question:

354. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health his plans to update the criteria for the long term illness card (details supplied). [21448/19]

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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.

Cross-Border Health Services Provision

Questions (355)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

355. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the submission of a business plan for additional staffing in a service (details supplied); the position of the HSE on same; when he expects same will be approved and finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21449/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy will be aware the management of staffing levels for the HSE Cross Border Directive (CBD) office is an operational matter for the HSE.  My understanding is that a business case for increased staffing levels has been made by the CBD office and is under consideration within the relevant unit of the HSE.  Given that this is an operational matter I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Cross-Border Health Services Provision

Questions (356)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

356. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the turnaround times for cross border directive applications; the average time it is taking for each application to be finalised in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21450/19]

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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 direct reply to the Deputy.

I also refer the Deputy to the reply issued to his Parliamentary Question number 21449 on the same matter.

HSE Properties

Questions (357)

John McGuinness

Question:

357. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if the HSE property management division for Kilkenny city will examine its portfolio of properties to determine if it can assist an organisation (details supplied) in establishing a base for its activity. [21455/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the management of the healthcare property estate, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to you in relation to this matter.

HSE Waiting Lists

Questions (358)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

358. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the waiting lists for each of the services in CHO9 by periods (details supplied) in view of the fact that the HSE was contacted directly for this information but has not responded to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21458/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly. The information that the Deputy is seeking covers every service provided by CHO9, and every service area within the HSE will need to respond to the Deputy separately.

Primary Care Centres

Questions (359)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

359. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health the reason a site for a primary care centre at Hassetts Cross, County Limerick was initially approved by the HSE and then rejected; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this contract was subsequently retendered and granted to a company comprised of former HSE executives and employees; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the successful company does not own the sites indicated and that neither of them are currently for sale; if the successful tender by the company meets the tender criteria in particular that its supporting doctors' patients must be primarily resident within the designated area; if he will direct the HSE to publish a list of the supporting doctors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21459/19]

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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.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (360)

Mary Butler

Question:

360. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment to attend the National Rehabilitation Centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21461/19]

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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 an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

Questions (361)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

361. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21462/19]

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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.

Orthodontic Services Waiting Lists

Questions (362)

Martin Ferris

Question:

362. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a child (details supplied) can expect to receive an appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21472/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

HSE Expenditure

Questions (363)

John McGuinness

Question:

363. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health the amount paid for nursing care services provided to the HSE from companies (details supplied) in each of the past five years; the amount paid by a centre over the same period to each of the companies; the procurement process used in each case; the date each company was reviewed in terms of cost; the hourly rate paid to agency staff in this sector; the figure compared to the hourly rate paid to the companies involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21475/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

HSE Staff

Questions (364)

John McGuinness

Question:

364. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if the staff located at a centre (details supplied) have agreed to a redeployment within the HSE; if each staff member has been given details of their original contract; if his Department will sanction a redundancy package for an employee that cannot be redeployed or that does not want to option of being redeployed; if the centre has consulted with the HSE on the issue of redundancy; if his Department is involved in these discussions or consultations; if the person or persons in the centre and the HSE will arrange to meet this Deputy and the employees to clarify all of these matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21485/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Questions (365)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

365. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a child (details supplied) had to spend 110 days in hospital awaiting the provision of the correct type of wheelchair thus incurring costs in maintaining them in hospital of approximately €130,000 in comparison to the cost of the wheelchair; and if consideration will be given to having two separate funding streams, for wheelchairs appliances, respectively, thus ensuring that those in urgent need of specialised wheelchairs do not have to wait resulting in serious medical conditions arising. [21488/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (366)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

366. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) will be called for an urgent surgical procedure. [21489/19]

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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.

Hospital Appointments Administration

Questions (367)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

367. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if the number of outpatient appointments provided and then cancelled in respect of a person (details supplied) will be investigated with a view to clarifying the position. [21490/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (368)

Seán Haughey

Question:

368. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if he will meet with the Rehab Group on an ongoing basis to discuss its financial difficulties which could result in the ceasing of operations in 2020; if funding of €2 million per annum will be provided by the HSE to the group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21491/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

This Government’s on-going priority is the safeguarding of vulnerable people in the care of the health service. We are committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives.

Significant resources have been invested by the health sector in disability services over the past number of years. Since this Government took up office, the budget for Disability Services has increased by €314 million. This year alone, the Health Service Executive has allocated €1.9 billion to its Disability Services Programme.

My primary concern is to ensure the continuity of appropriate person-centred disability services is maintained and delivered in an equitable manner consistent with the care and support needs of individuals. I want to acknowledge the important services provided by Rehab and the commitment of the staff of Rehab to people with a disability and their families.

I am informed by the HSE that the total revenue allocation provided by the HSE to Rehab for social services has increased by €8.1 million to €56.1 million in 2019 when compared with the allocation in 2016.

Rehab provides a range of services to young people and adults with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities, mental health difficulties, autism, or acquired brain injury. Services are co-ordinated through Rehab’s three service delivery divisions, RehabCare, the National Learning Network and Rehab Enterprises.

Rehab and the HSE have committed to working intensively together with a view to making substantive progress in reaching a solution to the issues.

Rehab have agreed not to issue a notice of termination, pending the conclusion of this intensive work with the HSE. Both I and Minister Harris have committed to a further meeting with Rehab and the HSE today.

Healthcare Policy

Questions (369, 374)

Micheál Martin

Question:

369. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if he has received the report from the group set up to examine the public private mix in public hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21492/19]

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Stephen Donnelly

Question:

374. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health when the independent review group to examine the removal of private practice from public acute hospitals will report; and when the report will be published. [21512/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 369 and 374 together.

The Report of the Independent Review Group established to examine private activity in public hospitals has been received and is being examined in my Department. It is a comprehensive examination of private activity in public hospitals and contains a small number of recommendations. When the recommendations have been examined and considered in my Department and by other relevant Government Departments, it is intended to bring proposals to Government and to publish the Report thereafter.

Hospital Consultant Recruitment

Questions (370)

Micheál Martin

Question:

370. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health the status of the recruitment of consultants; if the overall vacancy rate is improving; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21493/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The number of consultants working in the public health service continues to grow year on year. It increased by 119 whole time equivalents or 4% in the year to the end of March 2019. In the five years to the end of March 2019 the number of consultants has increased by 529 - over 20% - and now stands at 3,110 WTE's.

However, the public health service in Ireland operates in a global market for medical specialists where there is a world-wide shortage of specialists. There are significant recruitment challenges, particularly in filing posts in certain specialties and locations. Many of these vacancies are filled on a locum or agency basis to support service delivery.

The issue has been examined by the Public Sector Pay Commission in relation to consultants.  The Commission found that evidence of recruitment campaigns with very low levels of applications was indicative of on-going difficulties in regard to recruitment of consultants.  The Commission also acknowledged that the difference in pay between the pre-existing and new entrant consultants is greater than for other categories of public servants. Ultimately, the Commission proposed that the Parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement jointly consider what further measures could be taken, over time, to address this difficulty.

I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to current vacancy rates.

Cancer Screening Programmes

Questions (371)

Micheál Martin

Question:

371. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health when he and his officials met following the most recent High Court judgment that required absolute certainty in the CervicalCheck screening programme; the actions he is taking to address the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21494/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Since the judgement referred to was issued, I have had a number of discussions and meetings with officials from my Department regarding the potential implications, and the appropriate response. 

My officials and I, in conjunction with the State Claims Agency and the Office of the Attorney General, are carefully studying the recent High Court judgment in the case referred to. It is important that there is careful legal analysis of this judgment as an input to the proper assessment of its implications for the health service. Following this, I will take steps to find a mechanism to brief health spokespersons or the health committee on the legal advice or rationale behind any approach I may take.

I am conscious that decisions in relation to this case will impact individual women as well as having wider implications. I want to reassure women that the Government is committed to ensuring that our life-saving cancer screening programmes can continue to operate to a high standard. I believe this objective is widely supported across the floor of this House.