Question No. 233 answered with Question No. 231.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (234)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

234. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Health the current waiting times for consultations with audiologists in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26039/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Mental Health Services

Questions (235)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

235. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the inequalities that exist between professional psychology doctoral training courses; and if there are plans to address this by funding both the educational and counselling psychology doctoral courses in line with clinical psychology doctorates. [26040/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Mental Health Services

Questions (236)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

236. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the inequalities that exist between professional psychology doctoral training courses regarding mental health and older persons; and if there are plans to address this by funding both the educational and counselling psychology doctoral courses in line with clinical psychology doctorates. [26041/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Mental Health Services

Questions (237)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

237. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Health the status of the establishment of a national psychology placement office; when this is likely to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26042/20]

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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.

Medical Cards

Questions (238)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

238. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health the date on which the threshold for medical card eligibility for the over 70s will change; and the date on which prescription charges will be reduced. [26050/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health (General Practitioner Service and Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) Bill 2020, enacted on 2nd August 2020, provided for an increase to the gross medical card income limits for those aged 70 and over to €550 per week for a single person and to €1,050 per week for a couple.

Budget 2020 provided for this measure and it also provided for a number of measures to reduce the cost of medicines for the general public including a €0.50c reduction in prescription charges for medical card holders. This would have represented a reduction of €0.50c to €1 per item for persons aged over 70 years, and a reduction of €0.50c to €1.50 for persons under 70. The intention was that the maximum monthly charge would also be reduced to €10 for the over 70’s and to €15 for the under 70’s.

Although it was intended that these measures would be implemented from July, funding of these Budget 2020 commitments was contingent on the achievement of certain savings within the health budget. However, these savings have not been achieved as the Pandemic has placed a significant demand on public finances, a substantial proportion of which has been allocated to the health system.

In that context, decisions on the associated funding and a potential implementation date are being actively considered.

Mental Health Services

Questions (239)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

239. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Health when the mental health service in County Mayo will reopen, specifically a facility (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26052/20]

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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 Facilities

Questions (240)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

240. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health when a new landing pad will be in place in CUH (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26072/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to the deputy directly in relation to this matter.

Medical Cards

Questions (241)

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

241. Deputy Kieran O'Donnell asked the Minister for Health when the prescription charges for medical card holders over 70 years of age will be reduced as per budget 2020. [26073/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Budget 2020 provided for a number of measures to reduce the cost of medicines for the general public including a €0.50c reduction in prescription charges for medical card holders.

This would have represented a reduction of €0.50c to €1 per item for persons aged over 70 years, and a reduction of €0.50c to €1.50 for persons under 70. The intention was that the maximum monthly charge would also be reduced to €10 for the over 70’s and to €15 for the under 70’s.

Although it was intended that these measures would be implemented from July, funding of this Budget 2020 commitment was contingent on the achievement of certain savings within the health budget.

However, these savings have not been achieved as the Pandemic has placed a significant demand on public finances, a substantial proportion of which has been allocated to the health system. In that context, decisions on the associated funding and a potential implementation date are being actively considered.

Pension Provisions

Questions (242)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

242. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if an increase is due on a HSE pension to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26078/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Technological Universities

Questions (243)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

243. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a proposal to help alleviate the shortage in medical scientists by way of graduate-entry course at TU Dublin; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the course has received approval in principle from the HSE for funding for clinical placement; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the process has been delayed despite the fact that TU Dublin is ready for an initial intake of students in January 2020; the measures he will take address the impasse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26082/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Nursing Staff

Questions (244)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

244. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health if his Department and the HSE will allocate funds to pay student nurses returning to work in hospital settings for placement in the coming weeks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26122/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE continues to fund the employment of 4th year student nurses who are on rostered work placements in hospital settings, including those scheduled to commence in the coming weeks and those 4th Year students who are to commence rostered work placement in 2021.

These 4th year student nurses on rostered work placement are paid at the approved rate as detailed on the HSE salary scale of €21,794 (annualised - psychiatric nursing specialism) and €21,322 (annualised - all other nursing specialisms).

In addition there are other supports open to all eligible Nursing Students:

- An accommodation allowance available for eligible Nursing Students which amounts up to €50.79 a week for the duration of the placement where it is necessary for the student to obtain accommodation away from his/her normal place of residence.

- A travel allowance is also available to eligible Nursing Students.

Mental Health Services

Questions (245)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

245. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the timeline to establish the national psychology placement office which will be tasked with examining the funding for all trainee psychologists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26131/20]

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.

Ambulance Service

Questions (246)

Alan Kelly

Question:

246. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the reason Thurles, County Tipperary and surrounding areas has been left without ambulance cover for long periods due to personnel being requested to cover other areas of the country. [26133/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

General Medical Services Scheme

Questions (247)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

247. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the dentists currently operating the general medical scheme in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26140/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Child Protection

Questions (248)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

248. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 757 of 21 July 2020, when a reply will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26141/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Opinions on the validity of parental alienation are divided in the international community. It is not recognised as a clinical entity by the American Psychiatric Association in its 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. Nor is it currently recognised by the WHO in its International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. The Department contacted the WHO in July 2020 to confirm whether or not parental alienation will be included in its updated classification, due in 2022. The Department is awaiting a response.

At present, the Department of Health has no specific health-based supports or services for parental alienation. Mental health services can be accessed by anyone in the State, who, following clinical assessment, will be treated on a needs-based basis. I have now also forwarded the Deputy’s questions to the HSE for their direct reply to provide information on any supports or services for parental alienation in the HSE.

The Department is led by international best practice in this area, and will continue to monitor any developments in this area.

Health Services

Questions (249)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

249. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health his views on delays to developmental checks for young children; if he has concerns in this regard; when these developmental checks by public health nurses will resume; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26143/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy is aware, the HSE has responsibility for the operation and provision of services, including developmental checks for babies and young children.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented interruption in normal activity across the entire health system, with services in the community being impacted alongside those in the Acutes sector. We know that the pandemic presents a real-time threat to our public health, but we also know that this risk has to be managed alongside the negative consequences of limiting access to non-COVID health services.

My Department and the HSE have worked closely together on the resumption of non-COVID health services. Our joint focus has been on planning the recommencement of the delivery of such services to address ongoing clinical demands, while maintaining the capacity to respond quickly to COVID-19 as required. All service areas, including services for developmental checks for infants and children, have been considered as part of the planning for service resumption, and it is of course a priority to restore non-COVID services as soon as possible in a safe and effective way.

Speech and Language Therapy

Questions (250)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

250. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health the number of children on waiting lists for all types of assessments, including speech and language per county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26144/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, recognises the need to improve services for both children and adults with disabilities through better implementation and by working together across Government in a better way.

The Government commits to prioritising early diagnosis and access to services for children and ensuring that the most effective interventions are provided for each child, to guarantee the best outcomes.

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

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (251)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

251. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health if therapists employed by the HSE have been redeployed to Covid-19 testing centres; if so, the number; if further redeployment of therapists is continuing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26145/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Health Services Staff

Questions (252)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

252. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health his plans to ensure that strike action by public health specialists is avoided; his further plans for these specialists in their request for consultant status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26147/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Firstly, I want to acknowledge the decision of the public health specialists not to engage in industrial action at this time and to allow two months to address their request for consultant status. I also wish to again acknowledge the key roles of the specialists in leading the State's response to the pandemic.

The Department of Health, in conjunction with the HSE, has been engaged with the IMO on the question of consultant status for public health specialists as recommended in the Crowe Horwath Report on the Specialty. Consultant status is also consistent with the role envisaged for the specialists in Slaintecare and Professor Scally’s Report on the National Screening Service ('CervicalCheck') under a new public health framework.

I, my Department and the HSE are committed to the early introduction of a new framework for public healthcare, as provided for in the Programme for Government, and to the framework incorporating consultant status for public health specialists. While finalisation of the future framework was paused in the context of Covid-19, addressing the pandemic has accelerated the implementation of many of the Crowe Horwath recommendations.

The specialty is already working - and leading out - the operationalisation of a very different operational model in response to the pandemic from that which was previously in place; the role of the public health doctor has transitioned very rapidly from one of leading small confined teams, to now leading and directing the activities of a very broad range of organisations and large multidisciplinary teams and the workforce has been diversified to a level not previously envisaged. This reform will continue when the Pandemic Framework, currently the immediate priority for the HSE, is finalised.

Teams are now in place in my Department and the HSE working on a related business case for submission to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform seeking consultant status and remuneration and this will be completed and submitted as soon as possible. We will also continue to engage with the IMO over the coming weeks. There is an amount of work to be completed and we are committed to progressing this as a priority.

Audiology Services

Questions (253)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

253. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health the number of audiologists in each CHO area; the number of vacancies in each CHO; if audiologists are being redeployed to Covid-19 testing; if so, the number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26148/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Audiology Services

Questions (254)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

254. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health the number on the waiting lists for audiology for children and adults in each CHO area; the average waiting time in each CHO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26149/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (255)

Thomas Gould

Question:

255. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health the services providing a healthcare or public health function that have been closed or prevented from operating due to the current level 3 restrictions in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26155/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is an operational matter I have asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to reply directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (256)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

256. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health the quantity of the flu vaccine ordered for the country; the reason for the shortage of same (details supplied); and if sufficient supply will be guaranteed for the winter months. [26157/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Given the potential for the winter flu season in 2020/2021 to coincide with a resurgence of COVID, and the importance of minimising hospital attendance, the Government is expanding the provision of vaccination without charge to all of those in the at-risk groups, including healthcare workers, and to all children aged from 2 to 12 years.

It is proposed to administer the vaccines via GPs and pharmacists, as in previous years.

The expanded programme will ensure that those most vulnerable to the effects of influenza will have access to vaccination without charges. By providing vaccination to those most at-risk, and those most likely to require hospitalisation if they contract influenza, it is anticipated that the programme will see a reduction in the number of influenza-related hospital admissions, as well as a reduction in the overall spread of influenza in the community.

I am aware that the first deliveries of influenza vaccines to all sites (GPs, pharmacists, nursing homes etc.) started on 17th September. For the initial deliveries, the quantities of influenza vaccine delivered to sites are the same as previous years. The quantities of vaccine available to order by sites will be increased in line with the amounts received into the country. All shipments, totalling 1.35 million individual doses, are expected to be delivered before the end of October. The HSE is in daily contact with the manufacturer. Delivery of the 600,000 doses of the nasal vaccine to be used for children is not affected.

The number of doses procured by the HSE is sufficient to vaccinate all in the at-risk groups. The start date of the vaccination programme will be late September or early October, the same as in previous years. The vaccination programme for children is expected to commence from mid-October.

The vaccination campaign will be accompanied by a comprehensive communications campaign to encourage the greatest possible take-up.

Mental Health Commission

Questions (257)

Michael Ring

Question:

257. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health the name of the chairpersons of mental health tribunals on the list of those retained by the Mental Health Commission. [26158/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

A list of the chairpersons of mental health tribunals appointed as of 1 November 2019 is available on the website of the Mental Health Commission www.mhcirl.ie and can be found at the following link https://www.mhcirl.ie/File/Tribunal-Chairpersons-List-09-20.pdf