Health Services Staff

Questions (544)

John McGuinness

Question:

544. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health the reason the staff of St. Patrick's Centre, Kells Road, Kilkenny, cannot obtain full details of their pension contributions and entitlements from the SPC or HSE; and if he will direct that the information be made available. [23813/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Disability Services Provision

Questions (545)

John McGuinness

Question:

545. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 874 of 26 March 2019 and the response from the HSE, the outcome of the meeting with the mother of a person (details supplied); if an agreed plan is now in place; if the person will be assessed for long-term care provided by an organisation at its facilities; and if respite through an organisation will be considered. [23814/19]

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

Mental Health Services Provision

Questions (546)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

546. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health the staffing levels for the CAMHS team for County Meath; the way in which this compares with the recommended staffing levels in A Vision for Change; the number of staff yet to be recruited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23819/19]

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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.

Disease Incidence

Questions (547)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

547. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health if he and-or his officials gather baseline health data on cancers and pulmonary diseases for the affected districts in which industrial incineration licences are granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23829/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

At present, the Department holds data on both mortality and hospital discharge information at county level. Through the work the Department is doing on a health information system strategy, we will be asking the HSE and other agencies under our aegis to include the collection of Eircode in all patient administration systems where it is not currently routinely collected. Having geographically coded health information will allow analysis of population health outcomes at lower levels of geography than is currently available.

The National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI) is charged with collecting and classifying information on all cancer cases that occur in Ireland. Collection of population-based cancer incidence data for the entire country began in 1994. The NCRI produces annual reports covering cancer incidence, mortality, treatment and survival. Each year approximately four further reports are produced focusing on specific cancer issues.

Overall, NCRI data is used widely in the development of cancer services, service planning and in monitoring progress being made under the National Cancer Strategy.

Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Questions (548)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

548. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the delivery of Spinraza for those with spinal muscular atrophy through the public health service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23844/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy is aware, the Oireachtas put in place a strong legal framework, in the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, to give full statutory powers to the HSE to assess and make decisions on reimbursement of medicines, taking account of a range of objective factors and expert opinion as appropriate.

In the case of Nusinersen (Spinraza), following detailed consideration of an application for reimbursement and lengthy engagement with the company, the HSE decided that it was unable to reimburse nusinersen. The HSE concluded that the evidence for clinical effectiveness was still quite limited and that the price proposed by the manufacturer was not a cost-effective use of resources.

On 21 February 2019, the HSE wrote to the manufacturer involved and informed it of the proposal to refuse reimbursement at the current price offering. Under the requirements of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, the company had 28 days to respond or make representations to the HSE’s proposed decision.

I am advised by the HSE that the manufacturer submitted additional information and that the matter remains under consideration by the HSE.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland

Questions (549, 550, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557, 558, 559, 560, 561, 674, 675, 676, 677)

Clare Daly

Question:

549. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 189 of 18 April 2019, the basis on which he stated that all protected disclosures must be treated as confidential when the statutory obligation only goes so far as imposing a requirement to keep the identity of the maker of the protected disclosure confidential. [23852/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

550. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if his predecessor received a protected disclosure in September 2014 alleging conduct damaging to the health and welfare of personnel and further alleging serious and substantial procurement irregularities in the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, (details supplied); and if in regard to the health and welfare element of this protected disclosure, the report constituted a report to an appropriate person under section 13(1) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 of an offence under the same section which the complainant was under a statutory obligation to make. [23853/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

551. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the responsibility he has when the mismanagement in regard to a matter (details supplied) by the board members was subsequently brought to his attention having regard to the provisions of the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011. [23854/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

552. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if senior officials in his Department met with the president, vice-president and another board member of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, and directed that a prompt, impartial and proportionate investigation must be undertaken in respect of the protected disclosure received by his Department in September 2014 alleging conduct damaging to the health and welfare of personnel and further alleging serious and substantial procurement irregularities in the NMBI. [23855/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

553. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if senior officials in his Department, following a meeting in September 2014 with the president, vice-president and another board member of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, in regard to a protected disclosure received in September 2014 alleging conduct damaging to the health and welfare of personnel and further alleging serious and substantial procurement irregularities in the NMBI, received correspondence from the president of the NMBI stating that there was no foundation for the complaints involved, that the matter had been dealt with in a comprehensive and timely manner and that no further action was warranted. [23856/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

554. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the evidence and documentation sought and received by his officials from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, in support of an assurance that the complaints made in a protected disclosure (details supplied) were without foundation and that no further action was warranted; if the president of the NMBI in December 2014 refused to forward the material sought by his officials; and the steps taken to insist that the evidence and documentation in question be furnished. [23857/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

555. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if his officials directed the board of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, in January 2015 to appoint an independent third party to review the contents of a protected disclosure in regard to the NMBI received by his Department in September 2014; and if the NMBI instead appointed a retired civil servant to carry out a scoping exercise rather than a review of the complaint. [23858/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

556. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if it was reported to his officials by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, that a scoping exercise (details supplied) involved interviews of two to three hours with several persons without the interviewer taking notes, contemporaneous or otherwise; and if his officials sought an explanation as to the reason this protocol was followed. [23859/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

557. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if he sought or received a copy of the full report of a scoping exercise (details supplied) completed in April or May 2015; and if not, the action he took upon completion of the scoping exercise. [23860/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

558. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if his officials received by letter dated 27 May 2015, a copy of the recommendations of the report of the scoping exercise carried out by a retired civil servant on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, in regard to a protected disclosure sent to his Department in 2014; and if this letter was copied to the person who was the subject matter of the complaint. [23861/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

559. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if the report of a scoping exercise (details supplied) was shared by the president and vice-president of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, with the person who was the subject of the complaint prior to the recommendations of the report being shared with his Department. [23862/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

560. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if in respect of the specific recommendation in a report (details supplied) to address with the person the subject matter of the complaint, the matter of an electronic record containing a strategy to harm the career of a senior member of staff in the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, he was informed by letter from the president of the NMBI dated 25 August 2015 that the board of the NMBI had decided not to pursue this recommendation. [23863/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

561. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if the attention of his officials was drawn to the fact that on 25 August 2015, the then president of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, arranged a meeting with the maker of a protected disclosure in regard to issues at the NMBI, which had been sent to his Department in September 2014, and attempted on behalf of the person complained of to make a deal that if the maker of the protected disclosure would withdraw the complaints in regard to the health and welfare of staff in the NMBI, the person complained of would leave the employment of the NMBI within a matter of weeks. [23864/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

674. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health his views on the fact that the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, paid a contribution of in excess of €20,000 toward the legal costs of a person (details supplied) whose actions were the subject of a protected disclosure submitted to his Department in September 2014 prior to findings being made in regard to those complaints. [24160/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

675. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health his views on the fact that the then president of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, in May 2016 signed a report on a protected disclosure submitted to the Minister's Department in September 2014 in regard to the conduct of a person (details supplied) which stated that consultants to the NMBI did not have the opportunity of interviewing the person, the subject matter of the complaint, by reason of their having left the organisation to work abroad. [24161/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

676. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the president of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, NMBI, in a report on a protected disclosure submitted to the Minister's Department in September 2014 in regard to the conduct of a person (details supplied) stated that the board upheld each element of the protected disclosure and considered the issues to be fully investigated and closed, in circumstances in which the issues relating to the health and well-being of staff were not investigated despite the person who had made the protected disclosure repeatedly making known to his officials their concern at the ongoing situation regarding the risks to the health and well-being of staff. [24162/19]

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Clare Daly

Question:

677. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the maker of a protected disclosure submitted to his Department in September 2014 in respect of the conduct of a person (details supplied) made a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding the conduct of the investigation of the protected disclosure by and on behalf of him. [24163/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 549 to 561, inclusive, and 674 to 677, inclusive, together.

These questions appear to relate to details of, and the handling of, a protected disclosure submitted to my Department in September 2014.

A protected disclosure, raising matters of concern within the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI), was received by my Department in September 2014. The matters complained of included the impact of certain conduct on the health and well-being of personnel and procurement irregularities in the NMBI. I am advised that the initial complaint did not characterise the matters as falling within the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. The matter was referred to the Board of the NMBI to investigate in September 2014. In late September 2014 senior officials of my Department met with the President, Vice-President and another Board member and stated that it was important that a prompt, impartial and proportionate investigation must take place.

In November 2014 my officials received a response from the Board of the NMBI in which the Board reported that it had formed the view that there appeared to be no foundation to the matters raised in the protected disclosure. In order to be satisfied that the matter had been appropriately reviewed and an evidence based conclusion reached, officials from my Department requested the NMBI to set out the basis upon which it had arrived at this conclusion together with all evidence and documentation that had been relied upon. The NMBI responded to say it was of the view that it was not appropriate to forward the material associated with the investigation. My officials wrote again on this matter in December and, in the absence of receiving such assurances, the Secretary General of my Department wrote to the NMBI in January 2015. The Secretary General conveyed the Department's continuing concerns that the NMBI had not provided evidence to satisfy the Department that the allegations had been investigated in an objective and transparent manner and set out the Department's strong view that the NMBI should appoint a third party with appropriate expertise and experience to carry out a review of the complaint.

In February 2015 the Board of the NMBI informed my Department that a third party had been appointed to carry out a preliminary external review of the complaint. My Department acknowledged this correspondence and stated that it looked forward to the outcome of the review. The review was completed in May 2015 and the Board of the NMBI informed my Department of the recommendations contained in the review in May 2015. In transmitting the recommendations to my Department by letter, the President of the NMBI copied a Board member and the CEO of the NMBI. My Department was not furnished with a copy of the review itself and is not familiar with the methodology adopted in the completion of the review or, for example, the manner in which interviews were conducted or the specific individuals who participated in the exercise. Subsequently, in submitting a report to my officials in May 2016, the NMBI advised that the nature of some of the disclosures focused on what would generally be termed Human Resources related issues and the investigation of these was compounded by the departure of a former staff member. I understand that the review conducted by the third party was shared with the person that was the subject of the complaint prior to the recommendations of the report being shared with my Department.

On foot of that review, two reports were commissioned. Crowe Horwath was engaged to carry out an Organisational Review and BDO was engaged to carry out a review of Remuneration and Contract Management of Non-Permanent Employees. BDO submitted two reports, the first in September and the second in November 2015. Crowe Horwath submitted a report in November 2015. The reports were accepted in full by the Board of the NMBI and they began to implement the recommendations. This has resulted in a comprehensive change to the governance arrangements in the NMBI. I can inform the Deputy that my Department was advised by the NMBI on 25 August 2015 that it did not intend to pursue the recommendation relating to an electronic record. However, I can advise the Deputy that my Department was subsequently (May 2016) advised of the steps that the NMBI took in respect of this specific recommendation. The NMBI purchased specific software to enable electronic searching by key words and identified a number of documents for review. This review took place and the complainant was advised of its outcome. The NMBI further advised my Department that it was reviewing and updating its policies and practices in relation to NMBI provided technology and resources.

The Board of the NMBI submitted a final report to my Department in May 2016 advising that the complaints raised in the Protected Disclosure had been upheld by the Board. The Board thanked the complainant for bringing these matters to its attention and stated that it had learned lessons. The Board set out a number of actions it had commenced to address the matters raised to ensure that similar situations will not arise again.

I am advised that the complainant wrote to officials in my Department in February 2016 to outline their dissatisfaction with a number of matters in relation to the handling of their complaint. Included in this letter was a statement alleging that a person had sought to encourage the complainant to withdraw an element of their complaint. I can further advise the Deputy that officials in my Department are aware that the complainant made a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding the conduct of the investigation.

I can advise the Deputy that my Department commissioned an independent review to examine the Department’s handling of the protected disclosure. This review found that the Department had acted appropriately at all times, albeit I am aware based upon subsequent engagement between my officials and the complainant that the complainant does not accept the findings of this review.

In view of the reports commissioned, the findings of same, and the steps taken by the NMBI to implement the recommendations of the reports, I am satisfied that significant action has been taken on foot of the complaints made. These complaints were an important input to the enhancement of governance in the NMBI.

The Deputy is aware of and has raised the obligations set out in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 which provide that a person who receives a protected disclosure in the course of their duties shall not disclose information that might identify the person making the disclosure. Given that the matters referred to by the Deputy relate to a relatively small organisation, I am conscious that to discuss them in great detail may run a risk of inadvertently revealing information that could identify the discloser.

In relation to the payment of legal fees, reference to such payment is included in correspondence from the complainant to my Department. My Department has requested that the NMBI provide the Deputy with information as to whether such payment was made and, if so, the reasons.

Finally, the Deputy has asked what responsibility I have for matters in the NMBI as Minister in the context of the Nurses and Midwives Act, 2011. I can advise the Deputy that the Act conveys certain powers on me as Minister. For example, section 9 provides that I may require the NMBI to provide me with information in relation to the performance of its functions and section 11 provides that I may give general policy directions to the Board. The NMBI is an independent statutory body. Its Board is made up of 23 people, some of whom are elected by registered members of the nursing and midwifery profession, some nominated by prescribed bodies and some appointed by the Minister for Health.