Medical Conditions

Questions (184)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

184. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health if attention has been drawn to concerns of persons in the Duleek area of County Meath regarding the potential impact on health of a number of heavy industries in the locality; if his attention has been further drawn to evidence to support this concern; the investigations conducted by his Department or the HSE in relation to the clustering of health conditions, for example, Guillain-Barré syndrome, respiratory conditions and cancers in Duleek and surrounding areas; if the recommendations of the investigations have been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50787/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this PQ refers to a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply directly to the Deputy.

Speech and Language Therapy Provision

Questions (185)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

185. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of speech and language therapy and assistance for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50795/19]

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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.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (186)

Seán Fleming

Question:

186. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health the number of persons employed on an agency basis in his Department and in each agency under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50806/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Department of Health has not hired or engaged any agency staff in the past five years to date. I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy with regard to their employees.

With regard to the non-commercial state agencies under the aegis of my Department, a response will need to be sought from each agency, and a reply will be forwarded to the Deputy by separate letter once collated.

Thalidomide Victims Compensation

Questions (187)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

187. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the progress made on the healthcare entitlements for thalidomide survivors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50813/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Following an Irish Government decision in 1975, the Government granted an ex-gratia sum equivalent to 4 times the German lump-sum and an ex-gratia monthly allowance for life equal to the German monthly allowance to each of the Irish children found to have thalidomide related injuries. The German monthly payments are made by the Contergan Foundation, which is established under German legislation. From 1st August 2013, the Contergan Foundation substantially increased its monthly payments to thalidomide survivors, including Irish survivors. There are currently 29 Irish people in receipt of ex-gratia monthly payments from my Department.

Both the German payments and the Irish ex-gratia payments made to the survivors are exempt from tax, including DIRT, and are not reckonable as means for the purpose of Social Welfare payments.

In addition to the initial lump sum and monthly payments for life, the supports provided to each Irish survivor include a medical card on an administrative basis regardless of means, provision of appliances, artificial limbs, equipment, housing adaptations and access to a full range of primary care, hospital and personal social services.

There is a designated senior manager in the Health Service Executive to act as a liaison with regard to the ongoing health and personal social service needs of Irish survivors.

It is important to note that it is open to any Irish person to apply to the Contergan Foundation for assessment of their disability as being attributable to thalidomide. Any Irish person who establishes that their injury is attributable to thalidomide will be offered appropriate supports by the Irish Government, commensurate with those currently provided to Irish thalidomide survivors, as outlined above.

Home Help Service Provision

Questions (188)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

188. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an application for home help by a person (details supplied) for home help; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50814/19]

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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.

Disabilities Assessments

Questions (189)

Brian Stanley

Question:

189. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health when an assessment of needs for autism spectrum will be carried out for a person (details supplied). [50816/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy's question relates to a service issue it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Emergency Departments Data

Questions (190)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

190. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health the number of patients waiting on a trolley waiting to be admitted for more than 12 hours and 48 hours, respectively, in November 2019. [50819/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The hospital system is currently operating at close to full capacity. The number of patients attending Emergency Departments continues to increase year on year. HSE figures show that for the first ten months of 2019, the number of patients attending Emergency Departments nationally increased by 2.7%.

However, the National Service Plan 2019 includes an expected activity target that 99% of all patients attending at an Emergency Department are discharged or admitted within 24 hours and any breach of this target is unacceptable.

With regard to the Deputy's specific question, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly with the requested information.

Emergency Departments Staff

Questions (191)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

191. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health the number of doctors, nurses and consultants on duty in emergency departments on 25 November 2019. [50820/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Nursing Staff Contracts

Questions (192)

Michael Harty

Question:

192. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Health the reason University of Limerick Hospital Group is employing agency nurses on a full 39-hour week while they are on a panel for full-time contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50842/19]

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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 answer and direct reply.

Counselling Services Provision

Questions (193)

James Browne

Question:

193. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the number of persons in each LHO area waiting for a counselling appointment in primary care at the end of November 2019 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks, respectively. [50846/19]

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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.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Data

Questions (194)

James Browne

Question:

194. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the number of persons in each LHO area waiting for a child and adolescent mental health services appointment at the end of November 2019 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks, respectively. [50847/19]

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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.

Psychological Services Waiting Lists

Questions (195)

James Browne

Question:

195. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the number of persons in each LHO area waiting for a psychology appointment in primary care at the end of November 2019 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 10 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks, respectively. [50848/19]

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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.

Mental Health Services Data

Questions (196)

James Browne

Question:

196. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the number of children admitted to adult mental health units between 1 January and 30 November 2019. [50849/19]

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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.

Occupational Therapy Waiting Lists

Questions (197)

Brian Stanley

Question:

197. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the number of children awaiting occupational therapy; and the number waiting over one, two and three years, respectively. [50854/19]

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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.

Physiotherapy Provision

Questions (198)

Brian Stanley

Question:

198. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the number of children in counties Laois and Offaly awaiting physiotherapy; and the number waiting over one, two and three years, respectively. [50855/19]

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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.

Drug and Alcohol Task Forces

Questions (199)

Brendan Smith

Question:

199. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health if additional funding will be allocated to the regional drug task forces in view of the fact there are particular difficulties for some services (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50856/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Drugs Strategy Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery is a health-led response to the problem of drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The strategy is underpinned by a partnership approach between the statutory, non-statutory and community and voluntary sectors.

Drug and Alcohol Task Forces play a key role in assessing the extent and nature of the drug problem in local communities. They ensure that a coordinated approach is taken across all sectors to address substance misuse based on the identified needs and priorities in their areas.

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 for the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy in 2019. €480,000 of this funding will provide an additional €20,000 for each of the 24 Task Forces, including the ten Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces. €10,000 of this funding will be on a permanent recurring basis.

A further allocation of €480,000 of this funding has been allocated in 2019 for twelve strategic health initiatives, as announced by me on 17 September 2019. A strategic initiative focusing on providing access to health services for young people whose lives are affected by problematic alcohol and substance use has been approved for funding in Cavan and Monaghan.

I would encourage the service referred to by the Deputy to engage with the Task force and the HSE to see how it can participate in this new initiative.

As the specific service referred to by the Deputy is funded by the HSE, I have referred the matter to them for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Orthodontic Services

Questions (200)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

200. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the reason for the long delay in publishing a report (details supplied) into the orthodontic service; the action the HSE has taken in respect of the issues relating to children that were covered by the report; and if, in the interests of openness and accountability, he will undertake to publish the report without further delay. [50863/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The report to which the Deputy refers was commissioned by the HSE. I have asked the HSE to reply to the Deputy.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Questions (201)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

201. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the research which has been carried out here on the health impacts of nitrates in processed meats; the consideration which has been given to World Health Organisation research on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50865/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department has consulted the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) which advises that apart from some Irish Total Diet Study analyses it carried out, it is unaware of any research carried out in Ireland on the health impacts of processed meats.

According to the most recent Irish Total Diet Study carried out by the FSAI between 2012 to 2014, exposure estimates to both nitrite and nitrate in adults and children resident in Ireland were found to be below the respective health-based guidance values. The study identified vegetables as the most significant dietary contributor for nitrate, and ham as the only dietary contributor for nitrite. The study concluded that exposure to nitrates and nitrites from food is not of concern.

The FSAI further advises that the safety of nitrate has been comprehensively evaluated by the European Union and international scientific experts, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Joint Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN / World Health Organisation (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives.

The Authority states that salts of nitrate and nitrite have been used for curing meat and other perishable produce for decades. They also help hinder the growth of certain harmful microorganisms. The use of additives in food is strictly regulated by EU legislation which requires that only authorised food additives may be used in the manufacture or preparation of foodstuffs. At EU level, all additives approved for use in current legislation have been evaluated by EFSA or previously by its predecessor, the EU Scientific Committee on Food. Two main nitrite and nitrate salt forms are allowed as food additives. These are sodium and potassium nitrite and sodium and potassium nitrate. Nitrates and nitrites are permitted for use in foods such as raw and processed meats, processed fish, and cheese.

The FSAI points to a number of assessments/evaluations of relevance, including:

- In June 2017, EFSA re-assessed the safety of nitrate as well as nitrite. EFSA concluded that the exposure to nitrate resulting from its use as a food additive did not lead to an exceedance of the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) and was estimated to be less than 5% of the overall exposure to nitrate in food from all dietary sources. EFSA, however, noted that total dietary exposure to nitrate from all sources (food additives, natural presence and contamination) exceeded the current ADI in all European populations considered. Similar conclusions were drawn concerning dietary exposure to nitrites from all sources. Nitrites contribute to the formation of a group of compounds known as nitrosamines, some of which are carcinogenic. EFSA concluded that the formation of nitrosamines in the body from use of food additives at approved levels was of low concern for human health. However, nitrite unintentionally present in meat products from other sources such as environmental contamination can also contribute to the formation of nitrosamines. EFSA concluded that these levels of nitrosamines could give rise to potential health concerns but that more research was needed to address uncertainties and knowledge gaps in this area.

- In 2008, an assessment carried out by EFSA’s Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain identified vegetable consumption as the main origin of human exposure to nitrate and to a lesser extent water and other foods.

- On the 26th October 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization, published the results of its evaluation of the risk of developing cancer from the consumption of red meat and processed meat. While processed meat was classified as Group 1, “carcinogenic to humans”, it is important to understand that the classification system indicates the weight of the evidence as to whether an agent is capable of causing cancer and does not measure the level of risk. Further explanation of the IARC report is available on the FSAI website at: https://www.fsai.ie/content.aspx?id=14285

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (202)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

202. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the status of child waiting lists for scoliosis treatment by hospital and length of time on the waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50869/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Reducing waiting times for patients to access scoliosis services is a key priority of Government. Increased investment in paediatric orthopaedics and scoliosis services has improved access to surgery and outpatient appointments in recent years. Furthermore, Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) is working to ensure that children in Ireland who require scoliosis surgery and ongoing treatment can be seen and treated within a clinically appropriate time.

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 Services

Questions (203)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

203. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the status of the provision of appropriate treatment for a person (details supplied); if a care plan has been agreed for them since the meeting of their family with the hospital on 4 October 2019; the timescale for the treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50874/19]

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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.