Question No. 606 answered with Question No. 488.

Question No. 607 answered with Question No. 511.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (608)

Brian Stanley

Question:

608. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health if he will clarify the position of essential workers providing massage therapy for pain management; and if they can operate under the current Covid-19 lockdown. [2688/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As you aware, Ireland is at level 5 of the Government's medium-term strategy Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19. This 5-level framework sets out what is permitted for social or family gatherings, work and public transport, bars, hotels and restaurants, exercise activities and religious services, at that moment in time.

The public health measures recognise the need to reduce congregation and interactions between people to reduce the transmission of Covid-19. The number of people allowed to gather in different scenarios in the plan is based on a review of international practice and the judgment of public health experts. It seeks to balance the risks of different types of gatherings against the desire to allow normal activities to proceed in so far as possible. The measures in place for each level reflect the prevailing disease situation and recognise that we can and must prioritise some activities over others.

At level 5, all non-essential services must remain closed. Information in relation to the current public health measures in relation to essential services at level 5 is available at:- https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/

The Deputy may wish to note that essential therapy services are those that are provided by a member of a designated profession within the meaning of section 3 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (No. 27 of 2005). Essential services for Human Health at Level 5 can be viewed at:- https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/#human-health-and-social-work-activities

The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (NO. 10) Regulations 2020 Regulation (S.I. 701 of 2020), sets out the relevant businesses or services under the current public health measures. Statutory Instruments related to the Covid-19 pandemic are available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/1f150-view-statutory-instruments-related-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Vaccination Programme

Questions (609)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

609. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health when general practitioners in County Clare can expect to be vaccinated against Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2689/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), to ensure that those most at risk receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus, hence the initial focus is 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.

GPs and each member of their Practice Team are included in priority group 2 of the vaccine roll out, which has already commenced. Many GPs and practice team members have either received an appointment across a number of locations or have now received their first dose of the vaccine. The vaccination of practice teams will gather pace over the next number of weeks, prioritising GP’s and Practice Nurses followed by the wider practice team as vaccine becomes available.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (610)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

610. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health the reason Bantry General Hospital, County Cork, was in a position to vaccinate general practitioners in surrounding communities against Covid-19 but the same arrangements have not been put in place in the University Limerick Hospitals Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2690/21]

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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.

Ministerial Communications

Questions (611)

Brian Stanley

Question:

611. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the reason members of Dáil Éireann have not received responses to emails or phone calls to his office for the past two weeks; and if he will provide a contact number for Members to receive replies to queries during the current restrictions. [2691/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I must apologise to the Deputy for the delays he has experienced in getting through to my Departmental office. I am sure he will appreciate that the volume of correspondence received in the office over the last few months has been extraordinary and this has unfortunately resulted in some delays in responding to queries. I have asked my Private Office to contact the Deputy’s Office to assist with his query. Furthermore, I have asked my officials to ensure that queries are responded to promptly. The Deputy, and other Deputies, can contact 01-6354956 where my officials will address queries.

Vaccination Programme

Question No. 613 answered with Question No. 448.

Questions (612)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

612. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the procedure for vaccinations within nursing homes and residential settings where the facility has a positive Covid-19 case or cases among its staff and-or residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2694/21]

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.

Question No. 613 answered with Question No. 448.

Health Services Staff

Questions (614)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

614. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 627 of 1 December 2020, the status of developments regarding the creation of consultant-level roles in public health medicine; when it will be possible for public health doctors to apply to become consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2699/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I, my Department and the HSE are committed to the early introduction of a new framework for public healthcare. This will involve the establishment of a consultant-led public health model as proposed in the Crowe Horwath report.

Establishing the Public Health Consultant grade in 2021 is a key priority. My Department is working intensively with the HSE on finalisation of the future model of public health and, following on from the submission of the Business case, with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to consultant status for those taking up leadership roles within it as provided for in Crowe Horwath.

Our public health specialists have been to the forefront of our response to the pandemic in Ireland. They have made an enormous contribution to the protection of everybody living in Ireland. I want to work with our public health specialists to make sure we have the best public health structure possible and hope that the issue can be resolved through engagement with the IMO.

Hospital Appointments Status

Questions Nos. 616 and 617 answered with Question No. 511.

Question No. 618 answered with Question No. 469.

Questions (615)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

615. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if a hospital appointment will be expedited for a person (details supplied); the length of time the person has been waiting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2700/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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

The HSE is currently recommending that only critical time dependent elective procedures are undertaken at this time due to the on-going and significant increased demand for bed capacity related to Covid-19.

This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions and to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work.

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.

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.

Questions Nos. 616 and 617 answered with Question No. 511.
Question No. 618 answered with Question No. 469.

Disability Support Services

Question No. 620 answered with Question No. 448.

Questions (619)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

619. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 952 of 24 November 2020, the way in which the funding and staff as outlined in the reply are being overseen and supervised to ensure that the care needs are being met appropriately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2714/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 620 answered with Question No. 448.