Mental Health Services Data

Questions (668)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

668. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the number of specialist substance abuse mental health teams in CHO9; and the locations and base of such teams. [45260/19]

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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.

Hospital Consultant Data

Questions (669)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

669. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the number of consultant cardiologist posts at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9; the number of vacant posts; the length of time they have been vacant; and when these posts will be filled. [45261/19]

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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.

National Drugs Strategy

Questions (670)

Brendan Smith

Question:

670. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the measures he proposes to implement to restore confidence in the national drugs strategy; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the decision-making authority is being taken away from the partnership structures of the strategy and being centralised in his Department and the HSE; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that necessary consultation is not taking place with communities; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the strategy at local and regional level is perceived as being undermined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45265/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Maintaining a partnership approach between statutory, community and voluntary bodies is a core value of the national drugs strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – a health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025.

In addition, Action 39 of the strategy is to support and promote community participation in all local, regional and national structures. In line with this, 11 community and voluntary representatives are included on the oversight structures of the strategy, which give leadership and direction to support the implementation of the strategy.

I am the chair of the National Oversight Committee which has a cross-sectoral membership from the statutory, community and voluntary sectors. The Committee meets every three months and held its most recent meeting on 20th September 2019. There is also a standing sub-committee which promotes coordination between national, local and regional levels.

Drug and alcohol task forces that play a key role in assessing the extent and nature of the drug problem in local communities and in ensuring that a coordinated approach is taken across all sectors to address substance misuse based on the identified needs and priorities in their areas. Again, the task forces are made up of community, voluntary and statutory representatives.

The Department of Health provides annual funding of €225,000 to support, develop and facilitate the involvement of communities in the local and national structures for implementing the national drugs strategy. This includes supporting community representatives on Drug and Alcohol Task Forces, organising a national community representatives’ network and participating on the national oversight structures for the national drugs strategy.

The Task Forces oversee an annual budget of €28m from the Department of Health and the HSE. This funding supports over 280 community projects, in local areas and communities throughout the country, to support initiatives to tackle drug and alcohol use and misuse.

Additional funding of €1m has been provided in 2019. This included €480,000 to provide an additional €20,000 for each of the 24 Task Forces, €10,000 of which will be on a permanent recurring basis. It also funds 13 strategic initiatives to respond to emerging trends in substance misuse and to improve access to services for people with complex needs. The funding was allocated following a national consultation with the 24 Task Forces and 9 community healthcare organisations. I am confident the new strategic initiatives will have a positive impact and make a difference to people’s lives as they journey to recovery.

I am committed to working in partnership with statutory, community and voluntary sectors in implementing the national drugs strategy.

General Practitioner Services

Questions (671)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

671. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some general practitioners in County Limerick are charging for the taking of blood samples; the steps he will take to enforce the provisions of the Health Act 1970 to ensure that persons covered by the general medical services scheme are not being incorrectly charged for routine phlebotomy services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45268/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the terms of the current GMS contract, GPs are required to provide eligible patients with ''all proper and necessary treatment of a kind usually undertaken by a general practitioner and not requiring special skill or experience of a degree or kind which general practitioners cannot reasonably be expected to possess." There is no provision under the GMS GP contract for persons who hold a medical card or GP visit card to be charged for routine phlebotomy services provided by their GP which are required to either assist in the diagnosis of illness or the treatment of a condition.

The HSE has advised GPs that where a blood test forms part of the investigation or necessary treatment of a patient’s symptoms or conditions, this should be free of charge for patients who hold a medical card or GP visit card. Notwithstanding this, I am aware that some GPs are charging GMS patients for phlebotomy services in some circumstances.

This is a matter of concern for me as it has long been the position, under successive Governments, that no user charges should apply to GP services provided to GMS and GP visit card patients. If a patient who holds a medical card or GP visit card believes he or she has been incorrectly charged for routine phlebotomy services by his or her GP, then that patient should report the matter to their HSE Local Health Office.

Nursing Staff Provision

Questions (672)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

672. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health his plans to appoint a lymphedema nurse to Letterkenny University Hospital; if not, his further plans for patients in County Donegal that require the specialist services of such a nurse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45275/19]

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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.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (673)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

673. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Health the status of a disability supports application management tool for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [45276/19]

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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.

HSE Staff Recruitment

Questions (674)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

674. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter regarding the HSE recruitment embargo (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45278/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Home Support Service is a core service which assists older people to live independently in their own homes for longer and enables large numbers of people to return home following acute hospital admission, who otherwise would remain in hospital or would be admitted to long stay residential care.

In line with Programme for Government commitments, the Government has made improved access to home support services a priority. In 2019 almost €30 million extra was added to the budget, with a target of delivering 18.26 million hours to over 53,000 people. This represented about 800,000 more hours of support than the 2018 target.

Despite this significant level of service provision, the demand for home support continues to grow. The allocation of funding for home supports across the system, though significant, is finite and services must be delivered within the funding available.

To achieve a balanced budget in 2019 the HSE must ensure that the cost of the home support hours being provided does not exceed the available budget. This is in line with normal prudent management of the budget. It is not correct to say that there is an embargo on home support hours. The allocation of new hours continues to be based on clients’ needs and the resources available.

In the context of planning and preparing for the challenges of the winter period, an additional €26m has been made available for the last quarter of 2019 to support the hospital and community system to improve patient egress. The investment is supporting home support and transitional care as well as keeping the waiting time for access to support under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) at 4 weeks to the end of the year.

While the existing home support service is delivering crucial support to many people across the country, it needs to be improved to better meet the changing needs of our citizens.

We have committed to an additional investment of €52 million in Budget 2020 to bring the total funding for home supports to €487 million in 2020. In 2020 the HSE will deliver over 19.2 million hours of home support, a substantial increase of 1 million hours more than this year’s target.

This investment is focused on enabling older people to remain at home and as appropriate, provision of hours will also be targeted at times of peak demand in Winter 2020, at the beginning and end of the year, to ensure more timely egress from hospital for our older citizens.

The core principles of Healthy Ireland, Positive Ageing, prevention and early intervention will underpin this approach.

In relation to recruitment, I am advised by the HSE that while there is no national recruitment embargo or moratorium, there is a priority requirement for all HSE services to maintain, or get to, an affordable staffing level that is sustainable in 2019 and 2020, while also prioritising the delivery of safe services.

In light of this, the HSE have introduced control measures relating to staffing and recruitment to ensure that they live within the available resources provided to them. This does mean that in some Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations non-critical replacement posts will be paused, however, the HSE report that there is on-going capacity for replacement of critical clinical posts within frontline services throughout this period.

Health Services Data

Questions (675)

Mary Butler

Question:

675. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health the number of persons with type 1 diabetes that had their diabetes care at University Hospital Waterford sourced to other hospitals in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45287/19]

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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

Health Services

Questions (676)

Mary Butler

Question:

676. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health the protocols in place when moving paediatric diabetes patients to adult diabetes services at University Hospital Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45288/19]

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

Hospital Appointments Status

Questions (677)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

677. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment for scans at Beaumont Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45296/19]

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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.

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.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Data

Questions (678)

James Browne

Question:

678. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the number of children with mental health issues accommodated by the HSE in nursing homes and other unapproved settings outside of hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45301/19]

View answer

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.

Healthy Ireland

Questions (679, 680, 681)

Imelda Munster

Question:

679. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Health the amount the HSE has spent to date in 2019 on Healthy Ireland branding materials; the way in which the money was spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45306/19]

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Imelda Munster

Question:

680. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Health the section funding stream of the HSE that pays for Healthy Ireland branding materials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45307/19]

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Imelda Munster

Question:

681. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Health his views on whether the utilisation of HSE resources in providing Healthy Ireland branding materials is an effective use of scarce resources in view of the fact his Department is responsible for Healthy Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45308/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 679 to 681, inclusive, together.

Healthy Ireland is the national framework for action to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone living in Ireland. It takes a “whole of Government” and “whole of society” approach to addressing the social determinants of health, as well as an inclusive, intersectoral approach to improve population health and wellbeing. Healthy Ireland is a key action area under the Slaintecare reform programme, which strongly endorses the need for continued cross-government commitment to implement Healthy Ireland.

The HSE has an important role in implementing the policies and cultural change required to improve health and wellbeing. Communications and citizen engagement and empowerment are critical areas for the successful implementation of Healthy Ireland. Operational responsibility for the delivery of specific initiatives promoting health and wellbeing by the health services is a matter for the HSE and expenditure arising from this is part of the implementation process.

I have referred the Deputy's questions to the HSE for direct response concerning the funding details requested.

Health and Social Care Professionals

Question No. 683 answered with Question No. 551.

Questions (682)

John Brassil

Question:

682. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health if his Department continues to recognise that physiotherapy is an autonomous health profession and that patients do not have to have a prior medical referral to access physiotherapy services in the public health services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45316/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Physiotherapists are a regulated profession under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005. All persons wishing to practice as a physiotherapist must be registered with the Physiotherapists Registration Board established under the Act and must adhere to the guidelines and codes of practice issued by the Board.

As the delivery of services is an operational matter, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.

Question No. 683 answered with Question No. 551.

Medicinal Products Supply

Questions (684)

Micheál Martin

Question:

684. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if he or his officials have received correspondence from a person (details supplied) in relation to spinraza; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45328/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Department of Health has received correspondence from this individual and an acknowledgement of its receipt was issued on 03 April 2019.

On 11 June 2019, the HSE Leadership Team approved access to the drug Nusinersen (Spinraza) for children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type I, II or III on an exceptional and individualised basis.

The HSE decision process in relation to Nusinersen involved a full Health Technology Assessment followed by detailed consideration by the HSE expert groups on new drug therapies, including the HSE Drugs Group and the Rare Diseases Technology Review Committee. Evidence of the clinical effectiveness of this new drug therapy was also reviewed.

After a review of all the data it was decided to approve access for children with genetically confirmed SMA Type I, II or III, in accordance with the controlled access criteria recommended by the Rare Diseases Technology Review Committee. The actual patient assessment and approval process is the means for determining access, on an individual case-by-case basis, to this complex treatment.

Paediatric Services

Questions (685)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

685. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the measures being taken to improve screening for arthritis and Down’s arthropathy for children with Down's syndrome; the specialist rheumatology services available following diagnosis; the measures he is taking to address the shortage of paediatric rheumatologists and specialist nurse practitioners nationally and at Our Lady's Children’s Hospital, Crumlin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45331/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am aware that there are challenges in meeting the growing demand for paediatric rheumatology services, and that the Health Service Executive is working towards improving access to such services. This is supported by the ongoing implementation of the National Model of Care for Paediatrics and Neonatology, which includes Paediatric Rheumatology.

In relation to current paediatric rheumatology service provision, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

Hospital Equipment

Questions (686)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

686. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a MRI scanner in Tallaght Hospital is not working; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that appointments have been outsourced; when the repairs will be carried out; the impact this will have on those waiting for MRI scans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45334/19]

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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

Primary Care Centres Provision

Questions (687)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

687. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the status of the Buncrana primary care centre, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45335/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the HSE has responsibility for the provision and operation of Primary Care Centres and other Primary Care facilities, the Executive has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy.