Question No. 865 answered with Question No. 796.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (866)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

866. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health the regulations in place to govern hospitals with regard to visitation for end-of-life patients or similar during the Covid-19 restrictions. [38432/20]

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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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (867)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

867. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the concern in Border counties that there is no coordinated cross-Border approach to tackling Covid-19; and the action he is taking to ensure a common approach to tackling the threat to human health on the island. [38433/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

There has been significant engagement and cooperation between the Ministers for Health, the Chief Medical Officers, and the Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland during the pandemic.

An MOU on COVID-19 Response and Public Health Cooperation, was formally agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on 7th of April 2020. The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so and on the advice of the respective Chief Medical Officers. Meetings of the North South Ministerial Council are an important pillar in our regular engagements with NI counterparts on COVID-19.

Significant engagement has taken place between Health Ministers, the CMOs and other officials on a range of issues in response to the pandemic, including: modelling and data sharing; public health guidance and messaging; testing and contact tracing approaches; development of tracing apps; health services and travel measures.

These discussions have led to the sharing of papers and learnings from the first phases of the pandemic as well as close cooperation on sector-specific public health guidance. Practical implementation of the MoU has also seen cooperation on critical care capacity, and on discussions related to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Mink farms in Denmark.

Health Services Staff

Questions (868)

Verona Murphy

Question:

868. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of contact tracers recruited since the start of level 5 restrictions in October 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38434/20]

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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.

Health Services Staff

Questions (869)

Verona Murphy

Question:

869. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of contact tracers presently operating within the Covid-19 test and trace system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38435/20]

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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.

Hospital Facilities

Questions (870)

Verona Murphy

Question:

870. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of additional intensive care beds secured since the start of level 5 restrictions in October 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38436/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

At the start of the year, permanent adult critical care capacity in our public hospitals stood at 255 beds, according to the National Office of Clinical Audit. This included 204 Level 3 ICU beds and 51 Level 2 HDU beds. As part of the initial response to the pandemic, funding was provided for an additional 40 adult critical care beds in March 2020 as well as two paediatric beds. The HSE has advised that between 280 and 285 critical care beds are currently open, with the number open any given day subject to fluctuation in respect of available staff and other operational considerations.

As of 6.30pm, 22 November, there were 278 adult critical care beds open and staffed. 214 of these were occupied, including 31 Covid-19 patients. This compares with a peak of 160 Covid-19 patients in critical care in early April. It is important to note that the balance of Covid and non-Covid care is very different now to earlier in the pandemic, with the significant majority of patients in critical care being non-Covid patients.

Budget 2021 will allocate funding totalling €52m in 2021 to critical care. This will retain, on a permanent basis, the 42 critical care beds put in place on a temporary basis this year and add significant new capacity. Funded adult critical care beds will increase to 321 by end 2021, an increase of 66 over the baseline number of 255 funded beds in 2020.

Autism Support Services

Questions (871, 872)

Verona Murphy

Question:

871. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of autism spectrum disorder assessment appointments which have been carried out since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38437/20]

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Verona Murphy

Question:

872. Deputy Verona Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of patients on the autism disorder assessment waiting list in County Wexford; the average length of time for a patient to wait for an assessment appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38438/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 871 and 872 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.

Paediatric Services

Questions (873)

Barry Cowen

Question:

873. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the paediatric diabetes nurse in Tullamore and Mullingar hospitals; and when this service will resume in either hospital (details supplied). [38465/20]

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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.

Hospital Procedures

Questions (874)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

874. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health when an operation will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38466/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer most scheduled care activity in March, April, and May of this year. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in accordance with the advice of the World Health Organisation.

Patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols.

The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.

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 is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures. It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 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.

In relation to the particular query raised, 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 (875)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

875. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if restrictions in relation to nursing homes can be eased in the run up to Christmas provided strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines are adhered to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38467/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The importance of continued social interaction of residents and their families cannot be overstated and every effort should be made, in line with public health advice, to ensure that these interactions continue, including through window visits.

Nursing home providers are ultimately responsible for the safe care of their residents. Under Regulation 11 of the Health Act 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2013 it is the legal responsibility of each registered provider to make arrangements for a resident to receive visitors, having regard to any risks that may present for the resident or other residents. Public health guidance has been developed in order to assist and support providers in this regard.

I encourage all nursing homes to remain familiar with the latest public health advice and support, and to make every effort to continue to facilitate visitors in line with public health advice and to communicate with family and friends on an ongoing basis in order to support positive mental health and wellbeing. I have communicated with the sector outlining the need for them to be flexible, innovative and to facilitate to the greatest extent possible alternative arrangements such as window visiting, in line with public health advice.

I am mindful that Christmas, for many, has always been a very special time for families and loved ones to come together. I would like to assure the Deputy that we want to ensure 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. I understand that the Health Protection Surveillance Centre is currently reviewing the public health guidance on visiting, in consultation with relevant national stakeholders, to consider, in line with the range of public health factors, further potential for safe visiting within nursing homes. Visiting guidance is being considered in the context of the wider COVID-19 situation, as we plan and prepare for exiting level 5 restrictions.

Notwithstanding this, it is also important to be cognisant of the wider epidemiological situation and the risks associated with same. On the 19th November, the European Centre for Disease Control published its latest risk assessment with regard to long-term care facilities. It highlights that the probability of COVID-19 introduction into a long-term care facility depends on the level of COVID-19 circulation in the community, with a higher risk associated with higher incidence rates in the community.

This highlights the importance of supressing the level of the virus in the community as one of the primary measures for protecting nursing homes. As citizens, we all have a responsibility in this regard and our actions across all of society can directly impact the outcomes for nursing home residents.

Primary Care Centres

Questions (876)

Alan Dillon

Question:

876. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health the status of proposed primary care centres in towns (details supplied); the stage of the process they are in; and if there is funding allocated. [38486/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Hospital Services

Questions (877)

Alan Dillon

Question:

877. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health the status of the feasibility study on Mayo University Hospital; the details of same; when it will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38487/20]

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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.

Health Services Provision

Questions (878)

Alan Dillon

Question:

878. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health if funding will be provided to establish a renal dialysis unit in one of the current healthcare facilities in Mayo University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38488/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Renal Dialysis Unit in Mayo University Hospital was upgraded in 2014 and has 15 bed spaces. Saolta University Health Care Group advises that at present they are not aware of an identified need for the further expansion of this Unit.

Hospital Equipment

Questions (879)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

879. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the cost of PPE which has been supplied to each CHO area to each nursing homes for each quarter to date since the commencement of the Covid-19 pandemic in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38505/20]

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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.

Hospital Equipment

Questions (880)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

880. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if the cost to the State has been recouped for the supply of PPE to nursing homes particularly since the commencement of the temporary assistance payment scheme of €72.5 million to support nursing homes since the commencement of the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38508/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Temporary Assistance Payments scheme for nursing homes, also known as TAPS, provides financial assistance to private and voluntary nursing homes to support their preparedness in relation to COVID-19 and to manage outbreaks, if and when they present.

TAPS was approved and sanction of up to €72.5m was provided on the 3rd April 2020. The intention to establish the scheme was announced on 4th April and the scheme first opened for applications on 17th April. The scheme underwent a detailed review in June 2020, following which it was agreed to extend the scheme for a further 3 months to the end of September 2020. On the 29th of September the scheme was further extended until the end of June 2021. On the 5th of November a further €42m funding for the scheme was announced. The Government has made €134.5m available under TAPS.

Whilst PPE was an eligible cost in the original scheme given the challenges in securing PPE across the sector, PPE was removed from the TAPS as an eligible cost as part of the scheme review. This was on foot of the HSE making a commitment to continue to provide PPE to private and voluntary nursing homes, in line with public health guidance, at no cost to the nursing homes.

Nursing Home Accommodation

Questions (881)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

881. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the concerns which were expressed regarding infection prevention and control, IPC, in private nursing homes in CHO 8 in June 2020 (details supplied); the subsequent action taken as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38509/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is an operational matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible