Disabilities Assessments

Questions (829, 830)

Sorca Clarke

Question:

829. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will have their assessment of needs carried out. [38158/20]

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Sorca Clarke

Question:

830. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will have access to in-person speech and language therapy and occupational therapy in view of the level of additional needs they have. [38159/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 829 and 830 together.

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.

Departmental Communications

Questions (831)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

831. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if a copy of the letter sent to a person (details supplied) which is referenced in a newspaper article will be provided. [38165/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The letter of determination is part of the Department's governance arrangements with the HSE. It sets out the level of approved expenditure for the HSE, and is updated on an ongoing basis during the year as plans for new developments are finalised, submitted for approval, approved and commenced.

The Department does not routinely publish communications between it and the HSE in the performance of their relative functions, as this would be inappropriate, and impact on both organisations ability to function effectively. It is not intended to publish this letter.

Mental Health Policy

Question No. 833 answered with Question No. 769.

Questions (832, 861)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

832. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the action he is taking to provide support to children and families affected by the impacts of parental alienation (details supplied); the further steps he is taking to raise awareness of the problem and potential mental health impacts of parental alienation; and if he has spoken or plans to speak with the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to discuss the way in which to minimise the impact of parental alienation on the health of children. [38213/20]

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John McGuinness

Question:

861. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health his plans to deal with the issue of parental alienation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38393/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 832 and 861 together.

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. However, health services can be accessed by anyone in the State, who, following clinical assessment, will be treated on a needs-based basis.

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

As the Deputy may be aware, there is no specific legislative provision regarding parental alienation in Irish family law. Section 246 of the Children Act 2001 provides for an offence of frightening, bullying or threatening a child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child's physical, mental or emotional health or wellbeing. There are legislative provisions in place to deal with child welfare particularly regarding the relationship between a child and their parents or guardians, providing the framework for a legal response to a wide spectrum of child welfare issues.

I understand that my colleague the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, and her Department are keen to examine the issue of parental alienation in greater detail. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality published a report last year on Reform of the Family Law System which includes parental alienation among a broad range of issues in the area of family law.

The Deputy may also be aware that a Family Justice Oversight Group was established recently in the Department of Justice which, in addition to Department of Justice officials, also includes representation from the judiciary, the Courts Service, the Legal Aid Board and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. The Group has been tasked with developing a family justice system, parallel to the establishment of a dedicated Family Court structure, having regard to international best practice. I understand that all of the various recommendations contained in the Joint Oireachtas Committee’s report, including the recommendation on parent alienation, will be considered in the work of that group.

With regard to the provision of mental health supports to children and families, the HSE Service Plan 2020 prioritises further CAMHS improvements, including increased integration with Primary Care; developing a 7-day-a-week service to ensure improved supports; enhancing early intervention and day hospital care; improving in-patient and community based services; ensuring greater promotion and use of talk therapies; and developing Eating Disorder and Mental Health Intellectual Disability services. Mental Health service delivery to young people will also improve through the use of such e-mental health initiatives as the recently introduced phone helpline, a new text line, and digital supports including online counselling. Mental health supports for children and families are also provided through the Primary Care Psychology Service and through a range of HSE funded community and voluntary groups. Further improvements for the planning and delivery of mental health services for children and young people will be progressed in the context of the implementation of the new mental health policy, Sharing the Vision, along with the updating of the Mental Health Act 2001 which is now well advanced.

Question No. 833 answered with Question No. 769.

Ophthalmology Services

Questions (834)

Emer Higgins

Question:

834. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health if children under 12 years of age are entitled to an eye examination and voucher to cover the cost of glasses; and if so, how often. [38224/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In accordance with the Health Act 1970, the HSE provides vision screening for children up to the age of six at child health examinations and for children of primary school age under school vision screening programmes. Ophthalmic treatment and appliances in respect of defects noticed at these examinations are provided by the HSE.

As the HSE's approach to the provision of optical services is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly as soon as possible.

Drug and Alcohol Task Forces

Questions (835)

Joan Collins

Question:

835. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health the amount of the €10 million announced for the drugs strategy that will go to drug and alcohol task forces for local projects; and if the amount is ringfenced. [38233/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Budget 2021 allocated €10m in new developments for drugs policy and inclusion health. Of this, €4m is being provided to enhance drug and alcohol services as follows:

- €1m to develop targeted drug and alcohol initiatives through the network of drug and alcohol task forces, and to increase in core funding for existing services

- €2m to increase residential treatment services for people with severe drug and alcohol dependency across the country, including a step-up stabilisation facility in CHOs Cork/Kerry, Mid-West and South East and a low threshold programme in Dublin North East Inner City

- €560,000 to expand community and family support services, including initiatives in Donegal/Leitrim/Sligo, Louth/Meath and Dublin North Inner City

- €390,000 for drug prevention and information initiatives, including pilot drug monitoring at festivals and the night-time economy and expanded access to the drugs and alcohol helpline.

A further €4m is allocated to address the addiction and mental health needs of people who are homeless.

€2m in new funding is being provided to enhance access to health services for socially excluded groups.

The additional €1m for targeted drug and alcohol initiatives will be directed towards new and emerging needs, informed by the mid-term review of actions in the national drugs strategy, and delivered in conjunction with drug and alcohol task forces. I will announce details of the new funding in due course.

General Practitioner Services

Questions (836)

Imelda Munster

Question:

836. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Health the details of all general practitioner practices in the east County Meath area; the number of general practitioners in each practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38245/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Medical Cards

Questions (837)

Robert Troy

Question:

837. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if blood tests are covered under the medical card scheme (details supplied). [38256/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Persons who are eligible for GP care without charge under the Health Act 1970 are not subject to any co-payments or other charges in respect of such services. 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 and the HSE has advised GPs accordingly.

I am aware that, nonetheless, some GPs are charging GMS patients for phlebotomy services in some circumstances. The GP chronic disease management programme which is being phased in from this year will involve the ongoing monitoring of patients’ condition and any blood tests required in this context will be covered by the fees payable for this care.

However, it remains a matter of concern to me that a GMS and GP visit card patient might be charged for blood tests which are clinically necessary and I have asked my officials to discuss with the HSE what further solutions to this issue may be possible. 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.

Emergency Departments

Questions (838)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

838. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the status of the design team tasked with plans for a matter (details supplied); if the existing prefabs will be replaced with a permanent structure for a new waiting area; if there is a time frame for the delivery of the second resuscitation area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38259/20]

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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.

Hospital Services

Question No. 840 answered with Question No. 815.

Questions (839)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

839. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health his plans to enhance services at a hospital (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38260/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The services at Monaghan Hospital, as part of the Cavan & Monaghan Hospital in the RCSI Hospitals Group, include theatre, day services, diagnostic services, ambulatory care, a Minor Injury Unit and a wide range of out-patient services. It also has 20 rehabilitation in-patient beds and 11 step-down beds, providing an invaluable service to patients following discharge from acute hospital services.

A 23-bed intermediate care unit in Monaghan Hospital is planned as part of Winter Plan 2020 to provide step down beds for Cavan Hospital patients. Preparation work on this project is underway.

Question No. 840 answered with Question No. 815.

Hospital Facilities

Questions (841)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

841. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the status of funding for a facility at a hospital (details supplied); if his Department has received the said proposal; the status plans to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38294/20]

View answer

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (842)

Michael McNamara

Question:

842. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Health if there will be a lead-in time of seven days’ notice of any new restrictions at the start of December 2020 to allow for proper planning and increased employment levels arranged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38295/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As you will be aware, Ireland has moved to level 5 of the Government’s medium-term strategy for dealing with COVID-19, Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19, which sets out Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19 in a range of areas over the next 6 - 9 months.

This Plan sets out 5 levels of response, each with a number of measures designed to help us all lower COVID-19 transmission and setting out what is permitted at that moment in time. It aims to allow society and businesses to be able to operate as normally as possible, while continuing to suppress the virus. Each level outlines what is permitted for social or family gatherings, work and public transport, bars, hotels and restaurants, exercise activities and religious services.

The Plan reflects a careful consideration of the impact of the introduction of restrictions on employment and livelihoods, keeping as many businesses open as possible at different stages, while acknowledging that some businesses and services are critical.

Any measures introduced at any level of the Plan are aimed at limiting the spread and damage of COVID-19, and are necessary to protect our key priorities of supporting and maintaining health and social care services, keeping education and childcare services open and protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities. The Government is committed to ensuring a balanced and proportionate response to COVID-19 by finding ways to implement public health measures in response to the pandemic in a way that is fair, reasonable and proportionate.

It is not possible to say what circumstances will apply in the future due to the nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has caused this global pandemic and the concerns that remain about the very serious threats to health that can be caused by this virus. The measures in place and the public health advice have been adapted to the changing circumstances and this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

HSE Reports

Questions (843)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

843. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 200 of 5 December 2019, if a copy of the 2015 HSE report into the orthodontic service will be provided; if he will report on the outcome of the meeting of the serious incident management team referenced in a letter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38335/20]

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 (844)

Denis Naughten

Question:

844. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the reason audiology services for children with special needs (details supplied) have been relocated; when the decision to transfer the services was made; his plans to reinstate the services in its original location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38341/20]

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.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (845)

Seán Canney

Question:

845. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health the longest time that a child has been waiting for a MRI scan in UHG; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38343/20]

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.

Speech and Language Therapy

Questions (846)

Robert Troy

Question:

846. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health when a child (details supplied) will be scheduled for a speech therapy appointment in view of the fact they have been on the waiting list for a year. [38347/20]

View answer

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.