Hospital Equipment

Questions (508)

Robert Troy

Question:

508. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he will address the fact that the only CT scanner at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar has been broken since 20 October 2019 and no definite date can be given as to when it will be operational; his plans to ensure that an operational CT scanner is on-site and that the second CT scanner which has been approved for the hospital is made available without further delay; and his views on whether it is acceptable that critically ill patients have to be transferred to other hospitals in order to have a CT scan carried out [44529/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly, as soon as possible.

Hospital Transfers

Questions (509)

Robert Troy

Question:

509. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if a patient (details supplied) will be transferred immediately to a suitable hospital due to the fact that the CT scanner has been inoperative at the Midlands Regional Hospital for five days. [44531/19]

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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.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly, as soon as possible.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (510)

Seán Haughey

Question:

510. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) will be given a suitable residential placement by the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44536/19]

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

Rare Diseases Strategy Implementation

Questions (511)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

511. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the consultation he has had in 2019 with an organisation (details supplied); his views on the importance of investment in clinical research as a key priority to help achieve better outcomes for patients; his further views on the need for a public information campaign to inform persons regarding the value of health research; his further views on the role of genomics in developing personalised therapies for patients with rare or ultra-rare diseases; his policy plans in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44545/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In order to discuss the continued implementation of the National Rare Disease Plan and agree prioritization of tasks, both myself and officials of the Department of Health have met with the Rare Disease Task Force (comprising Rare Disease Ireland, Medical Research Charities Group (MRCP), The Irish Platform for Patent Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPPOSI)). Meetings took place in February, May and September of this year. Quarterly meetings with this important stakeholder will continue, to take place to ensure that their input and the voice of the patient is represented. The Department of Health also meets regularly with the HSE National Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases and the National Rare Disease Office to monitor progress.

Many rare diseases are genetic in origin and, as such, effective genetic services can have an important role to play in relation to diagnosis and possible treatment. The medical genetics service in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin provides services for patients and families affected by, or at risk of, a genetic disorder. It comprises three integrated units: a clinical genetics service; a cytogenetics laboratory and a molecular genetics laboratory. Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, provided additional resources last year to support the hospital’s Department of Clinical Genetics. An external multi professional team, led by an experienced NHS UK Health Manager, has been assisting in the improvement of the service. Investments in staff and equipment to further develop the service is continuing.

The Minister, and the 10-year strategy for transforming healthcare in Ireland, Sláintecare, acknowledges the fundamental importance of research in delivering high quality and informed services based on robust data and rigorous research. Clinical trials, in particular, are at the heart of improved prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. International evidence clearly shows that standards of care are higher in research-active healthcare organisations, and this results in greater access to innovative treatments and improved outcomes for patients. In addition, this improves the recruitment and retention of high calibre staff into the health service and attracts industrial collaboration and jobs. For this reason, the Department of Health, via the Health Research Board, has invested over €150m in clinical research infrastructure and supports over the last decade. This has resulted in the establishment of state-of-the-art clinical research facilities on the campuses of hospitals, clinical trials networks to support the conduct of multi-centre trials, a Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) to support the development of methodological skills in trials and intervention research and Clinical Research Coordination Ireland (HRB-CRCI) to act as a one-stop-shop for all those interested in the conduct of multi-site clinical trials in Ireland.

As a further sign of his commitment to clinical research and his ambition to increase the trial footprint in Ireland, the Minister recently secured government approval to become a member of the European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN). By managing and supporting trials across borders, connecting networks, and advising and implementing policy, it advances knowledge flow, competitiveness and integration in European clinical research. As a member, Ireland’s clinical trial researchers will now have access to a wider patient base and diversity, expertise from across Europe and potential cost savings through resource sharing with other member states. Membership of ECRIN will also increase the ability of people in Ireland to be part of research on rare conditions and to benefit from breakthroughs as ECRIN represents a population of 300 million, giving access to much larger trials than could be delivered in Ireland alone.

There are currently over 330 clinical investigators in Ireland leading and undertaking trials across the clinical trials infrastructure mentioned above. To ensure that we are pro-actively and constantly developing the future cadre of clinician and non-clinician clinical research investigators, the HRB has an expansive portfolio of early-, mid- and senior career investigator awards and fellowships. The HRB has also introduced a dedicated funding stream in recent years to fund clinical trials and intervention studies.

Finally, one of the most long-standing barriers to the conduct of seamless and efficient clinical trials in Ireland is our current system of Research Ethics approval. In July this year, the Minister secured approval for a National Research Ethics Committee Bill. The establishment of a National Office for Research Ethics Committees, and the urgent establishment of a National Research Ethics Committee in the area of Clinical Trials (of Medicinal Products), will deliver an effective and coherent national model which will benefit those conducting and participating in trials.

The Minister is aware of the significant opportunities and benefits afforded by genetic and genomic research. The key objective for the Department, and the Minister, is to ensure that Ireland develops a comprehensive national policy/strategy which ensures that we both respond to these opportunities and overcome the not insignificant challenges of implementing a genomic medicine programme in a health service delivery context.

The ultimate goal is for genomic medicine to benefit individuals, the healthcare system and society. In 2016 Professor Owen Smith authored the ‘Report of the National Genetic and Genomic Medicine Network Strategy Group’. On foot of the recommendations outlined in this report, in 2018 the HSE received new service development funding to begin the process of establishing a National Genetics and Genomics Medicine Network. The aim of this Network, once established, is that it would build the effective governance arrangements that recognises the interdependence between corporate, financial and clinical governance across the service and integrate them to deliver high quality, safe and reliable healthcare. Discussions are at an advanced stage to initiate the recruitment of a National Director of this Network.

Air Quality

Questions (512)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

512. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health his views on the health consequences arising from the delay in implementing a nationwide smoky coal ban; when he last raised the issue directly with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment; when he is scheduled to meet the Minister or his officials to discuss the issue; if his attention has been drawn to the recent report by the EPA on air quality here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44546/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Air Quality is an important environmental determinant of health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report Air Quality in Ireland 2018, which was published in September, has estimated that poor air quality causes up to 1,180 premature deaths per annum in Ireland.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has a priority to identify and advise the general public on strategies to reduce their risk of adverse effects during episodes of poor air quality. To this end, the HSE and the EPA established a collaboration to look at the relationship between short-term changes in ambient air quality and hospital admissions due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in Dublin city and county between 2014 and 2018. The Air Quality Index for Health (AQIH) was the measure used for ambient air quality (Available URL: http://www.epa.ie/air/quality/index/) . The preliminary findings from this work have highlighted that the ambient air quality in Dublin is predominantly good (i.e. Good: 96%; Fair: 3%; Poor: 1%; and Very poor: < 1%). Other findings are comparable to reports within the literature, but uniquely show the Irish experience. The report is currently being finalised for publication.

Extending the ban on the use of smoky coal would have a positive impact on air quality, particularly in built up areas. However, my Department has been advised by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment that a number of coal firms have indicated that they would challenge the proposal to expand the smoky coal ban nationally. This is particularly disappointing, given the impact poor air quality can have on human health and the environment and the emphasis the Government is putting on transitioning to a low carbon society. I understand that my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, is in contact with the Attorney General on this matter.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and I engage on a regular basis.

Hospitals Funding

Questions (513)

Denis Naughten

Question:

513. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the budget received by each hospital and CHO to provide non-emergency hospital transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44549/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Hospital Services

Questions (514)

Denis Naughten

Question:

514. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the hospitals and CHOs which could provide non-emergency hospital transport to outpatient appointments for those that cannot fund transport from their own resources; the amount spent by each hospital and CHO on providing such non-emergency hospital transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44550/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (515)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

515. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the allocation for transport implemented to date under the national learning network in County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44556/19]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists Data

Questions (516, 517)

Denis Naughten

Question:

516. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the initiatives being undertaken at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore to reduce ENT outpatient waiting times; the current waiting time for an outpatient appointment at the hospital; if a reduction in waiting times has taken place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44557/19]

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Denis Naughten

Question:

517. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the number of patients awaiting outpatient ENT appointments in each Saolta group hospital; the length of time those patients have been waiting; the initiatives being undertaken to reduce waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44558/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 516 and 517 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated by officials in my Department and will be provided to the Deputy directly as soon as it becomes available.

General Practitioner Services

Questions (518)

Denis Naughten

Question:

518. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the reason general practitioners have had the electronic referral pathway for CT and MRI tests removed from them; his views on whether it is appropriate that patients requiring urgent scans are being referred to emergency departments; his plans to reverse this policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44560/19]

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.

Drug and Alcohol Task Forces

Questions (519)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

519. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if he will review correspondence (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the valuable supports being provided on the ground; if funding to the service will be increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44561/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The correspondence provided by the Deputy identifies two key issues:

- Delays in the transfer of funding from the HSE.

- Communication difficulties between the HSE and the North Eastern Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force.

Officials in my Department have requested a report from the HSE in relation to these issues. The Deputy is advised that the Department of Health is providing an additional €190,000 over a three year period (2019-2022) for Young People's Substance Use Support Services in Cavan and Monaghan. This strategic health initiative will improve access to health services for young people whose lives are affected by problematic use alcohol and substance use in the two counties. I would encourage the organisation referred to by the Deputy to engage with the North Eastern Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force and the HSE as to how it can participate in the Young People's Substance Use Support Services.

Hospital Equipment

Questions (520)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

520. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if all the MRI scanners at Tallaght Hospital are operational; if not, the number out of operation; and the length of time it will take for the hospital to be back at full capacity. [44566/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly, as soon as possible.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (521)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

521. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health the number of adults with an intellectual disability in County Wexford that are on the waiting list for residential care; the average waiting time for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44567/19]

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 (522)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

522. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health if the necessary funds will be made available to an organisation in order that it can provide full-time residential care to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44568/19]

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 Remuneration

Questions (523)

Seán Haughey

Question:

523. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if pay will be restored to section 39 workers in an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44569/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The WRC agreement reached in October 2018 in relation to pay restoration for section 39 organisations provided for pay restoration in relation to 50 ‘pilot organisations’ in the first instance. Pay restoration for these bodies commenced in April of this year with further payments due in 2020 and 2021 as appropriate.

The WRC agreement also states:

“It is recognised that some of the remaining Section 39 organisations (estimated 250 approximately) are likely to have pay restoration issues and a process to address these will be agreed and the parties will commence engagement on this issue during 2019”

L'Arche Ireland Kilkenny is one of these remaining organisations. There have been initial engagements in recent months between the parties on this matter under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. It has been acknowledged by management that the resources available to deliver on this initiative will be a significant challenge for the HSE. It is also recognised that significant preparatory work will be required to determine the exact costs for pay restoration to this wider group.

The parties are currently reflecting on their positions following the most recent WRC engagement.

Hospital Appointments Status

Questions (524)

Pat Deering

Question:

524. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment for an MRI at Waterford University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44573/19]

View answer

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 Waiting Lists

Questions (525)

Pat Deering

Question:

525. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will be given a date for an operation. [44574/19]

View answer

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.

Medicinal Products Reimbursement

Questions (526)

Alan Kelly

Question:

526. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the reason the HSE is refusing to cover circadin 2mg for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44575/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the particular issue raised relates to an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (527)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

527. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the status of an operation for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44576/19]

View answer

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.