Brexit Preparations

Questions (528)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

528. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if his mitigation plans will be confirmed to ensure the continuity of timely supply of radioisotopes for use in diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44584/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As part of the whole-of-government response to Brexit, the Department of Health has established dedicated structures to manage the approach to preparing for the UK’s exit from the EU. The Department, the Health Products Regulatory Authority and the HSE, with the full support of stakeholders, are implementing a comprehensive and coordinated set of preparations to ensure continuity of health services and continued supply of medicines and medical devices in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Preparations included the establishment of a Radiopharmaceutical Resilience Advisory Group in the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP). This Group has devised plans, in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, to mitigate against the potential issues in relation to the supply of radioisotopes and the resulting impact on patient services in the 23 hospitals involved.

The Radiopharmaceutical Resilience Advisory Group issued advice in ‘Guidance for Nuclear Medicine Facilities and Nuclear Medicine Services in the event of Brexit’ . The document includes advice on contingency plans for hospitals, including hospitals that provide care for children. The advice includes avoiding the delivery of technetium generators in the period immediately following Brexit, ordering larger generators, and sharing generators between hospitals in the event of supply issues.

Hospitals are also advised to consider the clinical urgency of investigations or treatments on a patient by patient basis, and to prioritise their radioisotope supply accordingly.

Along with the guidance document, there is an escalation pathway set up in the event of supply issues. Each nuclear medicine department has been requested to contact the NCCP on a daily basis during the Brexit period to inform on how their service is running and to highlight any Brexit-related issues. Any issue will be followed up immediately through a centralised approach.

HSE Correspondence

Questions (529)

Willie Penrose

Question:

529. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 135 of 18 September 2019, the steps he will take to examine the reason the HSE has still not replied to urgent correspondence (details supplied); if same will be dealt with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44591/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The aim of the National Dementia Strategy, which was published in December 2014 and is being implemented by the National Dementia Office, is to improve care, services and supports for people with dementia.

The HSE currently provides about €9 million per annum for intensive home care packages, including €7.9 million for dementia-specific packages. Since the packages were introduced at the end of 2014, 459 dementia-specific intensive homecare packages have been delivered, with 193 active at the end of July 2019.

As the Deputy's specific query is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Medical Card Eligibility

Questions (530)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

530. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the clinical data outcomes being collected for the type 2 diabetes cycle of care programme; if the data has been audited; when a report will be made available; the cost of the programme to date; if it is providing value for money; his plans to extend same to patients with type 2 diabetes that do not have a medical card or general practitioner only visit card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44593/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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.

Diabetes is currently listed on the Long Term Illness Scheme which means that patients can get a range of medicines from their community pharmacy free.

As the PQ also refers to the Diabetes cycle of care which is run by the HSE, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services Funding

Questions (531)

John Brassil

Question:

531. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 376 of 22 October 2019, if he has evaluated the full costings over the ten-year timeframe provided in the Sláintecare report; his views on whether the costings (details supplied) are accurate for the purposes of implementing the recommendations in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44594/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Sláintecare report was produced by the all-party Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, which was established to devise cross party agreement on a single long term vision for health care and direction of health policy in Ireland. The Committee engaged the Centre for Health Policy in Trinity College Dublin to assist with its deliberations. As part of this process, the Centre provided indicative costings for a range of recommended actions. The Committee acknowledge in the report that these costings are only indicative, and that further work will be required by the Implementation Office in my Department and the HSE to ensure effective investment in change. The cost of implementing Sláintecare will depend on the prioritisation, sequencing and timing of actions, including key decisions on eligibility and entitlements, and the role of private health care in public hospitals. External factors such as general and medical inflation and changes in demand for services will also influence the cost of implementation. A significant budget of €45.5 million for 2020, rising to €95.5 million in 2021 has been committed to progress the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.

Pension Provisions

Questions (532)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

532. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health if a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44596/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Health and Social Care Professionals Regulation

Questions (533)

John Brady

Question:

533. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Health if the risk assessment by CORU regarding the regulation of play therapists has been completed; the stage the regulation of play therapists is at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44604/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

CORU is Ireland’s multi-profession health regulator. It was established under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005. CORU is responsible for the regulation of the 17 professions designated by the Act.

Section 4 of the Act provides that, following a consultation process and with the approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas, regulations may be made designating a health or social care profession not already contained in the Act.

As the Deputy is aware, I asked CORU to facilitate a risk assessment of the principal health and social care professionals seeking regulation and this includes play therapists. Officials from my Department are currently considering the appropriate next steps to be taken in relation to the risk assessment.

Legislative Programme

Questions (534)

Alan Kelly

Question:

534. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the legislative timeline for the advancement of the human tissues Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44617/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Work is progressing on the drafting of the Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill in collaboration with the Office of Parliamentary Council.

Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme was undertaken by the Joint Committee on Health on 16 October 2019 and the Committee's report is awaited.

It is envisaged that the drafting process will be complete, and Government approval secured to publish the Bill, by the end of Quarter 1 2020. It is hoped that the Bill will then be progressed through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Hospitals Expenditure

Questions (535)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

535. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the cost per bed night for each hospital, including critical care and ward beds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44619/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My officials have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly on this matter.

National Treatment Purchase Fund Payments

Questions (536)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

536. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the price paid for each procedure from the NTPF; if different prices are paid for the same procedures, for example, to different hospitals; if so, the prices in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44620/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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.

Departmental Strategies

Questions (537)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

537. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the status of the implementation of the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix in General and Specialist Medical and Surgical Care Settings in Adult Hospitals in Ireland 2018; when it will be implemented in all hospitals; if there are costs to implementing the plan; the savings which can be realised as a result of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44621/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The principle objective of the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix in General and Specialist Medical and Surgical Care Settings in Adult Hospitals in Ireland was to develop an evidence-based methodology to determine the staffing and skill mix range required in our hospitals.

The Framework was developed in the Department and piloted in three sites before I formally launched it in April 2018. Results from the pilot were positive for both patients and staff. Showing evidence of improvements in the quality of care and patient outcomes, and a reduction in length of stay. The Framework also stabilised the workforce, improving staff moral and a leading to a reduction in agency spend.

The national rollout of the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix in General and Specialist Medical and Surgical Care Settings is now the responsibility of the HSE and a National Implementation structure has been agreed. Full rollout is dependent on the introduction of a new ICT system which is now in the final stages of procurement.

I have asked the HSE to write to the Deputy directly to provide to provide further information on its implementation plan, together with the costs and benefits of same.

Hospital Consultant Contracts

Questions (538)

Barry Cowen

Question:

538. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health the action he has taken on foot of issues raised in a programme (details supplied) to ensure compliance; and the findings of the formal investigations of the HSE launched in the wake of the programme. [44624/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In April 2018 my Department and HSE management agreed monitoring arrangements, including the development and implementation of a comprehensive framework by the HSE to operate at both national and local levels, to monitor and ensure consultant compliance with the public/private provisions of their contracts. It was agreed that:-

- The HSE would incorporate within the framework a process map allocating individual responsibilities at local, Hospital Group and national levels;

- The revised framework should specify processes for monthly reporting of compliance from Hospital Group CEO to the National Director for Acute Hospitals with quarterly escalation to the Deputy Director General;

- Annual compliance would form part of the HSE’s internal control assurance process. The HSE Audit Committee would be asked to include consultant contract compliance on its work programme and will, in particular, consider compliance as part of its review of the annual internal control assurance process; and that

- The HSE would submit reports to the Department of the position at end September 2018 and end December 2018 and annually thereafter.

The HSE submitted an initial report in the autumn of 2018 and earlier this year submitted the report to the year end 2018. This included the Framework developed to give effect to the agreed arrangements - with specific responsibilities assigned to the Hospital Clinical Director, the Hospital CEO/GM, the Hospital Group CEO/Clinical Director and the National Director Acute Operations. It also included a summary of compliance at Hospital Group level, details concerning work being undertaken to improve monitoring arrangements in the acute sector and measures in train to ensure the completeness of monitoring arrangements within Community Operations.

HSE Staff

Questions (539)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

539. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) will be granted permission for a career break to work abroad in accordance with HSE guidelines and practice. [44627/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Psychological Assessments Waiting Times

Questions (540, 541)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

540. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the number on the waiting list for assessments of need for children by CHO; and the average length of time between the date of referral and date of assessment by CHO. [44628/19]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

541. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the number on the waiting list for initial meetings with early intervention teams for children by CHO; and the average length of time between the date of referral and date of assessment by CHO. [44629/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 540 and 541 together.

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.

National Adult Safeguarding Policy

Questions (542)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

542. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health when the national policy on adult safeguarding will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44631/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government has approved the development of a national adult safeguarding policy for the health sector, together with such underpinning legislation as may be required. The policy, when developed, will cover the entire health and social care sector, including statutory health agencies and public, voluntary and private service providers.

The development of policy and associated underpinning legislation in this area is a complex undertaking, and I have previously emphasised the importance of developing a clear, coherent, carefully-considered and implementable policy framework as a basis for any required underpinning legislation. The Department's approach therefore is, before formulating legislation, to undertake the required detailed policy and evidence base development work including appropriate legal research, policy research, public and stakeholder consultation and resource implications analysis.

Evidence base development and policy drafting is progressing well. A high-level Steering Group established to assist my Department in its development of the policy, has held five meetings to date and there has been ongoing stakeholder consultation. Updates and related papers such as discussion papers on the policy content are published regularly on my Department's website. Focus group consultation is being undertaken to ensure that voices of the most directly affected service users are heard and a research evidence project to inform the policy is in train. Major project milestones to date include:

- Government approval to develop the national health sector policy;

- a stakeholder survey on the themes and questions to be covered in the policy;

- formation of the Steering Group assisting in my Department's development of the policy;

- commissioning of a research evidence project to inform the policy;

- commencement of service user focus group consultation (in partnership with the Institute of Public Health) to ensure the voices of those most directly affected are heard;

- further ongoing stakeholder consultation, for example meetings with key stakeholders including the HSE National Safeguarding Office, HIQA, the Mental Health Commission, Safeguarding Ireland, Sage Advocacy and others; frontline site visits and fact-finding visits by Departmental officials; and a major stakeholder consultation workshop on policy content;

- detailed drafting throughout 2019.

Related major milestones in relation to adult safeguarding in the health and social care sector include:

- my recent approval of national standards for adult safeguarding submitted to me jointly by the Health Information and Quality Authority and the Mental Health Commission;

- the anticipated early finalisation of a major revision by the Health Service Executive of its national operational adult safeguarding policy.

Arrangements for the early launch and publication of the new adult safeguarding standards are being finalised. Both the standards and the revised operational policy will be very important in informing the Department’s development of the national health sector policy and identifying possible policy or legislative gaps.

A further significant initiative across all sectors was the Law Reform Commission's commencement in June 2019 of a legal research project on "A Regulatory Framework for Adult Safeguarding", on foot of submissions from various bodies, including from my Department.

It is hoped that a first draft health sector policy will be completed during the first quarter of 2020, and that a public consultation on a published draft policy will be undertaken as soon as possible thereafter. Following analysis and consideration of the feedback obtained through the consultation process the draft policy will be further developed and proposals on the policy will be submitted to Government thereafter.

Paediatric Services

Questions (543)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

543. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) is waiting for a paediatrician appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44632/19]

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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.

Voluntary Sector Funding

Questions (544)

Mary Butler

Question:

544. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health the progress on an application by a centre (details supplied) for section 39 funding; when the funding will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44633/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The funding of voluntary organisations through Section 39 is administered by the HSE. As such, I have referred your question to the HSE for direct reply.

Ambulance Service Response Times

Questions (545)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

545. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that nine times to date in 2019 it took at least an hour for an ambulance to arrive at a life-threatening emergency in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44636/19]

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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 to the Deputy.

Ambulance Service Response Times

Questions (546)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

546. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Health the HIQA recommended response time for an ambulance to arrive on scene; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44637/19]

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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 to the Deputy.

Ambulance Service Response Times

Questions (547)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

547. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that County Mayo had the worst response time in the country for an ambulance to arrive at a life-threatening emergency (details supplied); the steps he is taking to address the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44638/19]

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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 to the Deputy.