Vaccination Programme

Questions (471)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

471. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding vaccine roll-out. [2271/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for my Department and further information is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (472)

Joe McHugh

Question:

472. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that County Donegal will receive a sufficient share of the national vaccine supply, particularly given that County Donegal has the highest percentage of elderly patients being cared for outside of long-term facilities and the high infection levels in the county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2272/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for my Department and further information is available here:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

General Practitioner Services

Questions (473)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

473. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health the provisions in place for a person (details supplied) who needs a form signed by a doctor to have a driver licence renewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2273/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

While there is currently exceptional demand for GP services in the context of Covid-19, GPs continue to see patients for non-Covid related services where necessary, albeit with infection-control measures in place. Nurse and doctor advice is provided over the phone where appropriate, and patients who are clinically assessed as requiring a face to face consultation with a doctor are referred for an appointment.

Where a face to face consultation is necessary, including those for non-clinical matters, this should be discussed between the GP or GP practice and the person concerned. The National Driver Licence Service provides advice on the requirements for medical reports for licence applications, which must be completed by a registered medical practitioner.

General Practitioner Services

Questions (474)

Seán Haughey

Question:

474. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if he will consider capping fees charged by general practitioners for face-to-face and telephone consultations for public and private patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2276/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, patient in-person contact with GPs has been curtailed as much as possible to help prevent the spread of the virus. Nurse and doctor advice is provided over the phone where appropriate, and only patients who are clinically assessed as requiring a face to face consultation with a doctor are referred for an appointment.

Under the GMS scheme, the HSE contracts GPs to provide medical services without charge to medical card and GP visit card holders. GPs are reimbursed by the HSE for the provision of those services. Medical and GP visit card holders are not subject to a charge for GP face to face or phone consultations.

People who do not hold a medical card or GP visit card access GP services on a private basis, including non-Covid-19 related face to face and phone consultations. Fees charged by GPs for privately provided services are a matter of private contract between the clinicians and their patients.

Health Services Reform

Questions (475)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

475. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the timeline he is working toward for the implementation of a unique health identifier system, which was originally promised to be rolled out in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2277/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Individual Health Identifier (IHI) is an important patient safety initiative and a fundamental part of my Department’s eHealth strategy and Sláintecare.

It is the intention to embed the IHI into all health systems nationally, across multiple sites and as such, it is a multi annual programme of work. New systems are required to accommodate it as a basic requirement during procurement and decisions with regard to which legacy systems should have it retrofitted versus those that will be retired are made on a case by case basis. The sequencing of the candidate health systems that will be populated with the IHI is determined by criteria such as that relating to clinical benefit resulting from the interaction of those systems with IHI included. Opportunities also arise for candidate system to be populated with IHI and the HSE are mindful of leveraging those opportunities.

Since May 2016, all electronic referrals from GP practice management systems to hospitals have been populated with IHI's provided the referral includes sufficient data to enable IHI matching. The IHI has been seeded into a number of Health Service Systems including PCRS. GP Practice systems have been upgraded to accommodate the IHI and PCRS plan to include the IHI in the monthly file that issues to each practice for all patients covered by medical cards and GP visit cards. Data matching analysis has been completed for 16.7 million Health Service System records including the National Medical Laboratory Information System (MedLIS), the National Cancer Screening Service, Immunisation and a number of Acute Hospital Patient Administration (PAS) systems.

Arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, the IHI was rapidly deployed for the Covid Case Tracker and has been included on all Covid-19 referrals for tests or assessments. While the Covid-19 pandemic suspended the planned 2020 roll-out of IHI to national systems, IHI will be implemented as a matter of priority in the context of Covid vaccinations and the national Covid Vaccination System in 2021. The objective is that all Covid vaccination records will contain a unique ID for each person who receives the vaccine, and that ID will be the IHI.

The IHI has been critical in the management of Covid as it enables unique identification of the patient across all events and health records relating to the individual along the Covid Care pathway. This means that clinical interactions can be tracked, linked and audited and diagnostic outcomes can be returned to the correct individual and clinicians managing that individuals care. The IHI also provides access to all information required in relation to contacting the individual for contact tracing, scheduling care and communicating results.

Health Services Staff

Questions (476)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

476. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health if the training of emergency medical technicians and paramedics is being delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions applying to the prometric system; the rationale behind these restrictions; the number of students who have been affected; his plans to address these delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2278/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is the independent statutory body with responsibility for the standards of training and education in pre-hospital emergency care. Accordingly, I have asked PHECC to respond to the Deputy on this matter directly, as soon as possible.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (477)

Gerald Nash

Question:

477. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Health the process for vaccination for essential workers; if bank staff working in branches are included as essential workers for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2282/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and Department of Health, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for the Department of Health and further information is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

Vaccination Programme

Question No. 479 answered with Question No. 448.

Questions (478)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

478. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the vaccination roll-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2283/21]

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.

Question No. 479 answered with Question No. 448.

Hospital Consultant Contracts

Question No. 481 answered with Question No. 448.

Questions (480)

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

480. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Health the number of approved, filled and vacant consultant posts by discipline specialty and sub-specialty at University Hospital Limerick; the basis on which, that is, permanent, locum or temporary agency, they are filled, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2294/21]

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.

Question No. 481 answered with Question No. 448.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (482)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

482. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health if he will address the case of persons (details supplied). [2297/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and Department of Health, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for the Department of Health and further information is available here:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) in direct patient contact roles will be vaccinated in Group 2 of the Provisional Vaccine Allocation Groups. This includes HCWs working in public, private, and voluntary settings.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (483)

Matt Shanahan

Question:

483. Deputy Matt Shanahan asked the Minister for Health if the HSE secured sufficient supply of liquid oxygen and bottled oxygen to ensure that hospitals continue to have adequate reserves of same to cover increases in gas requirements for long-term ventilated patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2298/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The recent rise in Covid-19 cases in our acute hospitals has led to a significant number of patients requiring advanced respiratory support, both inside and outside the ICU setting. As part of the response to COVID-19, upgrades in oxygen delivery capacity have been completed and oxygen capacity increased by 60% in preparation for surge, oxygen groups are in place in acute hospitals to manage and monitor the position in relation to oxygen, and I understand that the supply of oxygen is not considered to be an issue at this time.

However, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy to provide any further detail available in regard to oxygen supplies.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (484, 486, 517, 522, 525)

Mick Barry

Question:

484. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Health the number of health staff he estimates will be required to administer the Covid-19 vaccination; the number that will come from the existing health service; the number that will be newly recruited; the number that will come from the private sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2304/21]

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Mick Barry

Question:

486. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Health the number of staff in the health service that have been trained to give vaccination injections since March 2020; his plans to increase this training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2306/21]

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Seán Canney

Question:

517. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health his plans to employ additional staff to administer the Covid-19 vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2431/21]

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Seán Canney

Question:

522. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health the number of persons trained to date to administer the Covid-19 vaccination; the projected number of persons required to administer the vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2439/21]

View answer

Seán Canney

Question:

525. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health if he plans to make use of the Army or Army Reserve forces to assist in the delivery and administration of the Covid-19 vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2444/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 484, 486, 517, 522 and 525 together.

The Government is committed to the timely implementation of a COVID-19 immunisation programme. In this regard a High-Level Taskforce was established to support and oversee the development and implementation of the programme.

The Taskforce membership is made up of senior personnel from my Department, the Health Service Executive, the Health Products Regulatory Authority, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the Office of Government Procurement, IDA Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of the Taoiseach, as well as expertise in the areas of public health, supply chain logistics, cold chain logistics, and programme management. The Defence Forces are also represented.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

Over time there will be enough vaccine available to vaccinate all those who want it. We are planning to vaccinate as many people within our population, with approved vaccines, as quickly, safely, and effectively as possible.

Training is now available to all relevant staff and being completed on a daily rolling basis to build up the number of vaccinators. Over 4,000 staff have received training to operate as vaccinators, and workforce planning for vaccinators to enable scale-up is currently underway. Pharmacists, GPs, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and many healthcare professionals, will have a role to play in the vaccination programme.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (485)

Mick Barry

Question:

485. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Health the contingencies he will make to replace staff in the health service who are transferred to work in the Covid-19 vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2305/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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.