Data Protection

Questions (468)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

468. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the decision on the archive of blood spot screening cards retained without consent from 1984 to June 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44367/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Following a complaint made to the Data Protection Commissioner in 2009, the State was found to be in breach of both EU and national data protection legislation in relation to the retention of newborn screening cards without consent.

A policy was developed to review and address the legal and ethical requirements arising for the National Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programme. This came into operation in July 2011.

This policy now incorporates parental consent for the primary use of screening (a baby) for 8 rare conditions. The policy also allows the card to be retained for a specific period of 10 years before disposal. Any secondary use (including research) requires additional and explicit parental consent for that specific secondary use.

A decision in relation to the archive of blood spot screening cards retained without consent (1984-June 2011) is well advanced. There are a number of component parts to be factored in when coming to a reasonable, fair and balanced decision. Firstly we must acknowledge the significant initiatives that have been completed including the public information campaign in 2013 offering individuals the opportunity to request and have their card returned to them and secondly the deliberations and report of the Forum held in 2016.

We have all learned a lot about the complexities of screening programmes over the last 18 months and the importance of public trust. That is now, for me, the most important influencing factor and as such the decision in relation to the archive must be one that protects the future uptake, integrity and confidence in the national newborn bloodspot screening programme, a screening programme with a 99.9% uptake. The decision must also balance the right to privacy with the principle of consent and ensure we seal the breach of national and EU Data Protection Regulations.

Pharmacy Services

Questions (469)

Gino Kenny

Question:

469. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some pharmacies, including a pharmacy (details supplied), have started to charge patients for the use of blister packs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44373/19]

View answer

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.

Health Services Staff Recruitment

Questions (470)

Mary Butler

Question:

470. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health the reason County Waterford with a population of 120,000 is the only county in the south east that does not have a primary care diabetes nurse specialist; his plans to recruit one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44377/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.

Ambulance Service Provision

Questions (471)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

471. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health his plans for an ambulance service centre to be based in south County Meath. [44380/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (472)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

472. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) has been waiting a long time for an appointment with a service; when an appointment will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44381/19]

View answer

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

General Practitioner Services Provision

Questions (473)

Mary Butler

Question:

473. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health when the appointment of a permanent general practitioner post will be made to serve the patients of the Cappoquin health centre, County Waterford; the arrangements in place until a permanent position is facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44391/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this question relates to a service matter, I have arranged for it to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Cancer Screening Programmes

Questions (474)

Mary Butler

Question:

474. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health his plans to support women who are in need of a smear test but cannot avail of the service in their local health centre (details supplied); when a more permanent and reliable service will be implemented at the health centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44392/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this question relates to a service matter, I have arranged for it to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Dental Services Staff

Questions (475, 476)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

475. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the way in which he plans to demonstrate that special dentist training is of a high priority during the implementation of the new national oral health policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44394/19]

View answer

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

476. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the amount of funding that will be released for training in special care dentistry under the new national oral health policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44395/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 475 and 476 together.

Smile agus Sláinte, the new National Oral Health Policy provides the groundwork to transform oral health services over the next eight years. The community oral healthcare services will centre on vulnerable and special care support services, as well as on needs assessment for people in residential settings and others who require additional supports.

The Policy recognises the need for a suitably skilled workforce to provide appropriate oral healthcare across all settings. This workforce will include oral healthcare professionals providing the highest level of care in advanced oral healthcare centres or in secondary/tertiary care centres, as well as oral healthcare professionals providing oral healthcare advice and preventive care directly to the public in primary oral healthcare settings. A protected educational, training and research environment will be a priority for the implementation of the Policy.

The detail of resource requirements will be agreed as part of the implementation process. The progressing of any measures with resource implications, contained in Smile agus Sláinte, will be dependent on the outcome of the normal budgetary process in any given year.

Dental Services Provision

Questions (477)

Robert Troy

Question:

477. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the avenues of treatment assistance available for a person (details supplied). [44401/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Autism Support Services

Questions (478)

Denis Naughten

Question:

478. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 440 of 5 February 2019, his plans to address a waiting list for the autism services concerned; his further plans to appoint additional staff to the service; his further plans for budget increases for the services; the alternatives available for those awaiting the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44414/19]

View answer

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

Traveller Community

Questions (479)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

479. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if he sought an allocation within budget 2020 in order to address the crisis in Traveller mental health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44417/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Budget 2020 announced €39 million additional funding for mental health services bringing its budget to €1.026 billion in 2020. The additional €39m increase to the includes €13m for the continued rollout of new developments in 2020 and €26m has been allocated for other costs, including pay, which will be used to maintain funding and enhance existing services.

New Developments programmes and funding will be agreed as part of the HSE National Service Plan 2020 discussions.

Health Services Data

Questions (480, 630)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

480. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if the ethnic identifier will be implemented across all health and mental health services and collection points and within strategy monitors and research strata; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44418/19]

View answer

Mary Butler

Question:

630. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health his plans to implement the universal ethnic identifier across all health and mental health services and collection points and within strategy monitors and research strata; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45003/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 480 and 630 together.

The ethnic identifier is a code to identify ethnic and minority groups when recording information on a death certificate. This identifier would enable the Central Statistics Office to identify ethnic and minority groups, including Travellers, when collating statistics, including those in relation to deaths due to suicide and could be utilised in the statistics produced by the Central Statistics Office.

The requirements for the registration of particulars of a death are set down on the Civil Registration Acts 2004 and 2019.

Section 41 of the 2004 Act, as amended, states that a coroner must furnish a certificate containing particulars of death to a registrar. These particulars include name and place of birth of deceased,country of citizenship. However, there is no current requirement to enter particulars in regard to ethnicity.

The Department of Justice and Equality published the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017–2021 in June 2017. This Inclusion Strategy is a cross-Departmental initiative to improve the lives of the Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland.

One of the key initiatives from the Strategy's themes and objectives is the introduction of a new system of ethnic identifiers to be developed across the public sector to help track progress and/or challenges for the Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland.

The Department of Justice and Equality chair a cross-Departmental working group, with involvement from Traveller and Roma representatives, with a view to developing a methodology for the introduction of an ethnic identifier on all data sets to facilitate the monitoring of access, participation and outcomes to services for Travellers and Roma.

The Integration Data Mapping Study commissioned by the working group has now been completed by the ESRI. Many of the findings and recommendations, while focused on integration of migrants, are relevant to the Strategy's commitment. The report was published in March and is available on the ESRI website. The Integration Data working group has yet to meet again and it is hoped to reconvene the Ethnic Identifier subgroup next year.

When the methodology has been progressed, the HSE and other relevant bodies, in consultation with Traveller organisations and other stakeholders, will work towards a phased, incremental implementation of the standardised ethnic identifier across all health administrative systems to monitor access, participation and outcomes of all groups, including Travellers and Roma, and to inform the development of evidenced-based policies and services.

As part of this wider health initiative, the HSE will review the access and barriers to primary and secondary mental health services for Travellers and Roma, in the context of the implementation of the ethnic identifier, and in partnership with Traveller and Roma service users, carers and families in order to develop and implement appropriate steps to ensure greater inclusion and continued use of these services by Travellers and Roma.

Traveller Community

Questions (481)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

481. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health his plans to commission a national audit of Traveller suicide and develop a national targeted suicide prevention campaign for Travellers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44419/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Office for Suicide Prevention in the HSE has responsibility for the implementation of Connecting for Life, Ireland's National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Members of the Traveller community are considered as a priority group under the strategy and feature across many objectives and actions in the strategy.

I have asked the National Office for Suicide Prevention to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to these specific requests.

Traveller Community

Questions (482)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

482. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health his plans to implement a national Traveller mental health strategy with a ring-fenced budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44420/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

National mental health policies, such as A Vision for Change and Connecting for Life, support a whole-of-population approach to mental health service delivery. The Traveller community is among a number of priority groups identified in these strategies, acknowledging that, while Travellers are eligible to avail of all mainstream public health services, they also have specific needs and mental health services should be delivered in a culturally-appropriate way.

For this reason, in 2017 the HSE committed to the recruitment of nine Mental Health Coordinators for Travellers, eight of whom are currently in post. The focus of these roles is to work within the CHOs to support improved access, consistency and integration of mental health services to meet the mental health needs of Travellers.

The Department of Health also provides funding in the region of €10m per annum, through the HSE, for targeted measures to improve the health status of the Travelling community. These include:

- primary healthcare projects, counselling services, family support programmes and men's health projects; dedicated public health nurses and related staff; and

- mental health promotion and suicide prevention services in a culturally sensitive manner, to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

In addition, the Department of Justice and Equality's National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy also details HSE-specific actions. Of particular note is the commitment by the HSE to develop a National Traveller Health Action Plan.

The HSE circulated a first draft of the action plan in March 2019 for consultation with stakeholders, including the Department of Health. The draft is currently being revised to take account of feedback and is expected to be finalised in quarter 4 2019.

Disability Support Services Provision

Questions (483)

Michael McGrath

Question:

483. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if the provision of home support hours for a child (details supplied) in County Cork will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44424/19]

View answer

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (484)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

484. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health when an assessment of needs will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44440/19]

View answer

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (485)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

485. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health when an assessment of needs will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44441/19]

View answer

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

Health Services Staff

Questions (486)

Micheál Martin

Question:

486. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health his views on whether there is a shortage of healthcare assistants in the health sector; if he has met or written to the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to discuss same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44442/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE advise that they have no difficulty in recruiting this cohort of staff in the public sector, and they further state that many of their services have completed successful recruitment campaigns for Health Care Assistants (HCAs). The number of HCA staff employed in the public system, has risen by +342 WTEs this year to date, and has risen overall by +584 WTEs when compared to the same period last year. Publicly employed HCA staffing levels at end September 2019 stand at 17,433 WTEs.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovations (DBEI) have responsibility for the employment permits list for in-demand occupations (the highly skilled list) and the list for those for whom a ready source of labour is available (the ineligible list). Care workers, including Health Care Assistants (HCAs) are currently included on the ineligible list of employments.

DBEI review this ineligible list on a twice-yearly basis taking into consideration the National Skills Bulletin, and the vacancy review reports, and submissions made to them on the matter. Removal of occupations from the list involves an evidenced based review by the Expert Group on Future Skills Need. The parent Department, in this case the Department of Health, must support any submission for it to be considered during this review. Officials from my Department have assessed submissions in relation to the removal of Health Care Assistants from this list but did not find that recruitment difficulties are solely due to shortages but rather that other factors such as salary and/or working conditions were a factor. As such, the removal of care workers from the ineligible list has not been supported by the my Department up to now.

Disability Services Funding

Questions (487)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

487. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the status of a HSE capital bid to redevelop adult day services formerly housed at a facility (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44444/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to proposals for the Cleary Centre in Donegal town.