Thursday, 17 October 2019

Questions (214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 223)

Alan Kelly

Question:

214. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of letters and-or emails from a person (details supplied) to him on 10 June 2019. [42768/19]

View answer

Alan Kelly

Question:

215. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of letters and-or emails from him to a person (details supplied) on 23 May 2019. [42769/19]

View answer

Alan Kelly

Question:

216. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of letters, emails and-or briefings from a person (details supplied) to a person on 1 May 2019. [42770/19]

View answer

Alan Kelly

Question:

217. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of letters and-or emails from a person (details supplied) to a person on 30 April 2019. [42771/19]

View answer

Alan Kelly

Question:

218. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of letters and-or emails from a person (details supplied) to a person on 24 April 2019. [42772/19]

View answer

Alan Kelly

Question:

219. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of letters and-or emails from a person (details supplied) to a person on 5 April 2019. [42773/19]

View answer

Alan Kelly

Question:

220. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of letters and-or emails from a person (details supplied) to a person on 4 April 2019. [42774/19]

View answer

Alan Kelly

Question:

223. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of letters and-or emails from a person (details supplied) to a person on 15 November 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42777/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 214 to 220, inclusive, and 223 together.

The questions relate to a range of communications between the Department of Health and the HSE between November 2018 and June 2019 regarding the roll out of termination of pregnancy services under the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.

Commencing in November 2018, the Secretary General of the Department of Health wrote to the Deputy Director General of the HSE acknowledging the ongoing work being undertaken across the HSE in relation to the introduction of the expanded termination of pregnancy service from 1 January 2019. The Secretary General restated the Government’s view that the service should be normalised and available in the community as close to patients as possible. He also reiterated the Minister’s requirement that all nineteen maternity hospitals/units should be able to offer services to women.

In April 2019, the Secretary General wrote to the Interim Director General of the HSE to raise concerns in relation to the lack of progress regarding the full implementation of termination of pregnancy services across all maternity hospitals/units. While acknowledging the very substantial work by the HSE to ensure that services were introduced from 1 January, the Secretary General expressed the Minister’s disappointment that services were still not available in early pregnancy in all nineteen maternity hospitals and units. The letter requested the HSE’s attendance at a meeting with the Minister to detail plans to bring service provision in line with Government policy as quickly as possible. The Interim Director General responded to acknowledge the contents of the Secretary General’s letter and to confirm that the HSE would attend the meeting.

In April there was also an exchange of correspondence between the Department's Acute Hospitals Policy Division and the HSE National Women and Infants Health Programme in relation to the rollout of termination of pregnancy services in the acute hospital sector. The Programme confirmed that termination services in the hospital setting was working well, and demand was within the planning parameters. The hospitals/units providing services were noted and a detailed update was provided in relation to hospitals not providing services in early pregnancy (up to twelve weeks of pregnancy). In response, the Department requested clarification in relation to hospitals not providing services in early pregnancy.

In May 2019, National Director of Acute Strategy and Planning in the HSE wrote to a Principal Officer in the Department with a briefing note on termination of pregnancy services. The brief detailed the services being provided in hospitals, listed the hospitals providing services in early pregnancy and outlined plans for service expansion in further hospitals. The Minister also wrote to the Director General in May, requesting a further update on the expansion of termination of pregnancy services in early pregnancy in the remaining maternity hospitals/units across the country. The Minister requested a more detailed report on the HSE ‘My Options’ telephone helpline, and information on arrangements put in place by the HSE for reviews to be carried out under the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2019.

In June 2019, the Director General replied to the Minister, outlining the plans in place to expand termination of pregnancy services in a number of further hospitals and addressing the approach in the remaining sites. The Director General provided a report on the My Options helpline, which included details on the number and type of calls received (information / support / counselling). Finally, he addressed the Minister’s request regarding arrangements for reviews under the Act and undertook to provide further information on same.

My Department continues to work with the HSE to ensure full implementation of the service.