Paediatric Services

Questions (546)

Pauline Tully

Question:

546. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the number of paediatric rheumatologists who were employed in each of the years 2018 to 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2543/21]

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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.

Paediatric Services

Questions (547)

Pauline Tully

Question:

547. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the number of times the HSE has advertised for the post of paediatric rheumatologist since January 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2544/21]

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (548)

John Lahart

Question:

548. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health when he plans to provide PPE to pharmacists as per a commitment made in summer 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2545/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has been provided with a significant funding provision for PPE in 2021. The HSE, in conjunction with my Department, and supported by guidance from Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC),is managing the provision of PPE across all parts of the health service, including health service contractors.

Disability Services Provision

Questions (549)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

549. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health when services for persons with disabilities will resume; the timeline his Department is working towards; if staff in these services have returned to their original roles following redeployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2546/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

On January 6th 2021, the Health Service Executive (HSE) issued revised guidance measures for Disability Services in the context of current high levels of Covid 19 transmission rates in the community. The revised guidance reflects Government’s intention that disability services will remain open at each level of the Resilience and Recovery Framework, subject to evolving public health guidance.

Service providers have been asked not to take unilateral action in relation to the provision of services and to ensure that robust communications plan are put in place to ensure that each service user and their families have a clear understanding of services to be provided during this current phase.

The following guidance is under continuing review and will be guided by Public Health advice:

1. Residential & PA/home support: Residential and home support/ personal assistant services continue to be prioritised and delivered subject to a revised Risk Assessment, Public Health Guidance and direction.

2. Respite Services: People with complex medical/clinical needs are to remain at home and will receive home support where possible, subject to risk assessment and prioritisation criteria.

3. Children’s Services: Therapy services for children with disabilities have been identified as “Level 1” in the HSE business continuity plan. Services will continue to be provided either remotely or face to face as appropriate during the current COVID-19 restrictions. The provision of Assessments of Need under the Disability Act continues to be a priority and each CHO area will continue to evaluate their plans on an on-going basis.

4. Adult Day Services: Extra funding has been provided to build capacity in buildings and to provide extra staff. This will ensure that maximum services will continue at a scale so that they can be provided safely to those most in need. Day services continue to be prioritised and delivered subject to a revised Risk Assessment, Public Health Guidance and direction. People with complex medical/ clinical related needs are to remain at home and, where possible to receive the same number of hours support in the home as they had been in receipt of pre-Christmas in day service locations. Providers have been asked to reduce contacts via hubs/bubbles, with dedicated staff for dedicated service users, where possible. Where families are uncomfortable with allowing their family member to return to a day service location, a package of support within available resources will be agreed with the service user and family.

The full guidance is available on the HSE website at:

https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/newsfeatures/covid19-updates/partner-resources/guidance-measures-for-disability-services-with-current-high-levels-of-covid-19-community-transmission.pdf

With regard to the redeployment of staff, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Disabilities Assessments

Question No. 551 answered with Question No. 490.

Question No. 552 answered with Question No. 448.

Questions (550)

Mark Ward

Question:

550. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health the number of children waiting for an assessment of need in each CHO; the length of time they have been waiting from 2016 to date in 2021, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2550/21]

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.

Question No. 551 answered with Question No. 490.
Question No. 552 answered with Question No. 448.

Eating Disorders

Questions (553)

Matt Carthy

Question:

553. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the steps he has taken to increase the number of listings for mental health professionals qualified in the treatment of eating disorders in County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2554/21]

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.

Eating Disorders

Questions (554)

Matt Carthy

Question:

554. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that, for the third year in a row, much of the funding allocated for the treatment of eating disorders under the model of care for eating disorders has been diverted elsewhere by the HSE; the steps he has taken to help ensure the funding allocated to the treatment of eating disorders is not diverted once more in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2555/21]

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (555)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

555. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if he received advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC, or any other European Union agency verbally, by letter or electronically not to impose travel restrictions or mandatory self-isolation or mandatory quarantine since February 2020. [2558/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

This Government continues to strongly advise against all non-essential international travel to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Recent correspondence between my Department and the ECDC expressed concern amongst our national health experts with inconsistencies in messaging in ECDC publications in relation to international travel. Such inconsistencies were recognised by the ECDC and my Department is assured that they are looking at improving procedures when developing such guidance.

Ireland has implemented a range of measures for the purposes of aligning arrangements for international travel with the EU ‘traffic light’ approach and I am committed to continued work with the EU and European institutions in a coordinated international effort.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (556)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

556. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health the number of persons who have travelled to Ireland by air and by sea in each of the past five months; the number who filled a passenger locator form in each of the past five months; the number who completed a passenger locator form that were contacted within 14 days in each of the past five months; and the number who travelled here who can be confirmed were adhering 100% to self-isolation in each of the past five months. [2560/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

There have been approximately 712,000 Passenger Locator Forms (PLF's) completed by passengers arriving into Ireland since the electronic PLF was introduced on 26th August 2020 to 7th January. A call centre was set up to manage the PLF data.

508,000 passengers who completed electronic PLF’s and those who completed a valid paper version of the form have all been contacted and have received public health messages. The PLF is used to support an enhanced system of engagements with arriving passengers including the targeting of public health messages via SMS. Passengers are contacted to verify the place of address provided on the form. This is done via interactive SMS with follow up phone calls as appropriate. 1.3 million public health SMS messages approximately were issued between 26th August to 7th January.

From the outset of the pandemic, Ireland’s approach to international travel has been centred on advisory public health measures with the exception of the PLF, which has been a mandatory requirement for arriving passengers to complete. The PLF allows for targeted public health messaging and assists contact tracing purposes.

The detailed monthly figures requested by the Deputy have been requested from the PLF contact centre and this will be provided to the Deputy once available.

Home Care Packages

Questions (557)

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

557. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health his plans to introduce a statutory scheme to support persons to live in their own homes; his plans to provide equitable access to high-quality, regulated home care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2564/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

A high-quality, consistent home-support service, focused on keeping people well in their homes and communities for as long as possible, is a key enabler to ensuring that people across a continuum of care get the right care, in the right place, at the right time. In this regard, my Department is in the process of developing a statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home-support.

Work is on-going within the Department to determine the optimal approach to the development of the new scheme within the broader context of the on-going reform of Ireland’s health and social care system, as envisaged in the Sláintecare Report. This work encompasses the development of the regulatory framework for the new scheme; the examination of the options for the financing model for the scheme; and the development of a reformed model of service-delivery.

The Sláintecare Implementation Plan commits to the establishment of the statutory scheme for the financing and regulation of home support services by the end of 2021. Work planned in 2020, including the planned testing of a reformed model of service delivery, was adversely affected due to the impact of COVID-19 on delivery mechanisms for home support and the requirement for the diversion of resources to deal with COVID-19. This has had an impact on the final timeline.

The successful development of this scheme is an ambitious programme of reform and is a key priority for me and the Minister for Health. In order to accelerate this work, the Department is working closely with the HSE to ensure that the required resourcing including personnel, governance structures and other requisite resources are scaled up to ensure that significant progress is achieved by the end of 2021.

Within this context funding was secured in 2021 for the HSE to progress the roll out of InterRAI as the standard assessment for care needs in the community, the testing of a reformed model of service delivery for home support services and the establishment of a National Office for Home Support Services. All the work throughout 2021 will progress the development of a reformed model of service delivery to underpin the statutory scheme.

In parallel, the increased investment in home support services in 2021 will contribute to meeting the Programme for Government commitment to providing equitable access to home care.

Medicinal Products

Questions (558)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

558. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if there is a mechanism for persons with polycystic ovary syndrome who are prescribed a drug (details supplied) to access that drug affordably; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the condition is not recognised under the long-term illness scheme; if his attention has been drawn to the prohibitive cost of the drug for treatment of the condition; his plans to make changes in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2565/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Oireachtas put in place a robust legal framework, in the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, which gives full statutory powers to the HSE to assess and make decisions on reimbursement of medicines, taking account of a range of objective factors and expert opinion as appropriate.

In line with the 2013 Health Act and the national framework agreed with industry, a company must submit an application to the HSE to have a new medicine added to the reimbursement list.

Reimbursement under the community drugs schemes, including the Long-Term Illness Scheme (LTI), is for licensed indications which have been granted market authorisation by the European Medicines Agency or the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

In making a relevant reimbursement decision, the HSE is required under the Act to have regard to a number of criteria including efficacy, the health needs of the public, cost effectiveness and potential or actual budget impact.

HSE decisions on which medicines are reimbursed by the taxpayer are made on objective, scientific and economic grounds, on the advice of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE). The NCPE conducts health technology assessments (HTAs) for the HSE and makes recommendations on reimbursement to assist HSE decisions. The NCPE uses a decision framework to systematically assess a drug's clinical and cost effectiveness as a health intervention.

Liraglutide does not currently have a marketing authorisation for the treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. If marketing authorisation is granted for an indication covering this illness, the HSE will be open to receiving an application for its reimbursement from the marketing authorisation holder.

Liraglutide marketed as Victoza was approved by the HSE for addition to the Reimbursement List for the treatment of Diabetes. Diabetes is one of the Long-Term Illness conditions for which eligible LTI persons can access their medicines free of charge.

The HSE has advised that it subsequently received an application for the reimbursement of Liraglutide marketed as Saxenda indicated as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for weight management in adult patients.

On 29 October 2019, in line with agreed processes, the HSE commissioned a full pharmacoeconomic assessment with respect to this indication following the completion by the NCPE of a rapid review.

On 8 July 2020, the NCPE received the applicant’s submission for this assessment and the HTA is currently under way. The application remains under consideration with the HSE and a decision will be made in line with the 2013 Act.

The Long-Term Illness Scheme (LTI) was established under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended). The conditions covered by the LTI are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of Thalidomide. Under the scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is not included on the above list and there are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the scheme at this time. However, a review of the current eligibility framework, including the basis for existing hospital and medication charges, will be carried out under commitments given in the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.

For people who are not eligible for the LTI Scheme, there are other arrangements which protect them from excessive medicine costs.

Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €114 a month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals with ongoing expenditure on medicines.

People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the HSE can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family.

People who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of GP consultations.

Disabilities Assessments

Questions (559)

Joan Collins

Question:

559. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if parents can have their children privately assessed if they are on lengthy waiting lists for the public assessment; if so, the way in which they are reimbursed (details supplied); and if other services such as speech therapy and so on that can be availed of privately if children are on public lists but cannot avail of these services due to lengthy waiting lists. [2567/21]

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.

National Children's Hospital

Questions (560)

Joan Collins

Question:

560. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if the National Children’s Hospital site will be closed with immediate effect until 31 January 2020 and then be reviewed given the virulent Covid-19 infection rate and the need to halt the rate of infection (details supplied). [2573/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Following the government decisions taken regarding the Level 5 restrictions, which I was part of, and the making of the Health Act 1947 (Section 31a - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, the National Children’s Hospital project is comprehended within the exemptions to closure.

Paragraph 5 of Part 2 of the Schedule to the Health Act 1947 (Section 31a - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (as amended) details the construction and development that is included in the definition of an essential service and whereby a worker may leave his or her place of residence and attend a premises for the provision of that essential service.

The recent amendments to the Regulations significantly enhance and expand upon “Construction and Development” deemed to be an essential service under Part 2 of the Schedule to the Original Regulations. A project such as the National Children’s Hospital is exempted from restrictions as the development of an essential health or related project and isn’t dependent on it being linked to preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of Covid-19.

In relation to the National Children’s Hospital, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) has statutory responsibility for planning, designing, building and equipping the new hospital.

The NPHDB acknowledges that the construction is causing some disruption to local residents and has advised the Department that it is committed to working collaboratively with the Resident Project Monitoring Committee to mitigate against this disruption as much as is possible.

The Committee is made up of Resident Representatives, the Main Construction Contractor, local councillors, the NPHDB and other stakeholders to the project. The Committee meets monthly and the NPHDB advised the Department that the Committee met twice last week to seek to address residents’ concerns.

The Resident Project Monitoring Committee has been operating very successfully for the last number of years and it is the appropriate forum through which residents should raises issues related to construction, along with the Residents' 24/7 Helpline which has been in operation since August 2016.

The health safety of the people working on the construction site, as well as those living in close proximity to the site, remains of paramount importance to everyone working on the project.