Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (844)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

844. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health the stage in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out it is envisaged persons living in sheltered accommodation such as these facilities (details supplied) will be offered vaccinations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6947/21]

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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.

The next group to be vaccinated are those aged 70 and older in the following order: 85 and older, 80-84, 75-79, and 70-74. Vaccination of this group will begin this month.

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.

Health Services Provision

Questions (845, 846)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

845. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health the number of patients availing of the type 2 diabetes cycle of care programme in 2018, 2019 and 2020; the cost of the programme to date; if he plans to extend it to patients with type 2 diabetes who do not have a medical card or general practitioner only visit card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6948/21]

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Cormac Devlin

Question:

846. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health the evaluation of the type 2 diabetes cycle of care that has been undertaken; the number of general practitioners that have returned their annual audit data for each of the past five years; if the audit data for each year has been evaluated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6949/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 845 and 846 together.

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.

Diabetes is currently listed on the Long-Term Illness Scheme which means that patients can receive a range of medicines from their community pharmacy without charge.

As the Diabetes cycle of care is run by the HSE, I have referred the Deputy's question to them for direct reply as soon as possible.

Health Services Funding

Questions (847)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

847. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health if Sláintecare funding for the development of a national register for diabetes has been made available; if the proposed work has begun; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6950/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In September 2019 Sláintecare Integration funding was allocated to the HSE to design and procure a National Diabetes Registry demonstrator product and develop a full specification plan for a National Diabetes Registry. The development of a National Diabetes Registry will have a long-term benefit on

- Patient care by facilitating benchmarking of individual care against guideline recommendations and QI feedback to practitioners

- Provision of appropriate health services by providing reliable information to healthcare planners and policymakers.

This project was paused in March 2020, as it was dependant on the input and expertise of key HSE staff who were redeployed onto urgent COVID-19 work. This project remains a priority and, subject to COVID-19, will be revisited again in the future.

Health Services Staff

Questions (848)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

848. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health his plans to employ community diabetologists to support the implementation of Sláintecare and the type 2 diabetes cycle of care programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6951/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the Health Service Executive to examine the issues raised and respond to the Deputy directly as soon as possible.

Early Childhood Care and Education

Questions (849)

Chris Andrews

Question:

849. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health the number of children under two and a half years of age nationwide and in the Dublin region that availed of early intervention from the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6968/21]

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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.

Health Services

Questions (850)

Marian Harkin

Question:

850. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health the progress made following the review in 2017 of the working group to discuss and review the 1993 boarding out regulations; the plans in place to change and update these regulations; his plans to change and update the financial arrangements with the small number of providers involved which have been in existence for the past 27 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6970/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

According to the Health Service Executive there are 17 boarding out facilities across 3 of the Community Health Organisations (CHO); CHO 1, CHO2 and CHO8.

The last year has been a very challenging year for the health system, and the response to the current pandemic, has highlighted the importance of the need to support people, including our older people, to access the right care, in the right place, at the right time. The Boarding Out Scheme will be examined in due course in the context of consideration of the overall reform of older persons services.

Healthcare Policy

Questions (851)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

851. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the implementation of the Crowe Horwath report on public health medicine. [6972/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department and the Health Service Executive (HSE) are committed to delivering on the recommendations that were made for Public Health in the Crowe Horwath report. The report recognised the very important role that public health medicine plays in the health of our population and in how our health service is managed and delivered.

Initial progress on the implementation of the future public health model was paused due to demands related to the Covid-19 response. Officials in the Department, in conjunction with the HSE have since completed a substantial amount of work on a detailed framework for the future public health model. As engagement with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to discuss a pathway to the introduction of this reformed model is ongoing, it would not be appropriate for me to discuss in any detail what the future public health model may look like.

Further to these discussions, I also committed to significant investment in Public Health when I announced plans to double the current workforce last September, by recruiting an additional 255 permanent staff, at an annual cost of over €17m. This includes public health doctors, nurses, scientists, and support staff. This is not only a response to the current pandemic but is an investment in the future development of our Public Health function.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (852)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

852. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Health the measures and initiatives he has taken to support well-being during Covid-19. [6973/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Since early 2018, Healthy Ireland national communications campaigns have highlighted key messages around eating well, being physically active and minding our mental wellbeing. The current campaign, ‘Keep Well’, promotes resilience and positive physical and mental health and wellbeing in the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Sláintecare has provided €7m to support the delivery of initiatives and support services, working with a range of partners including the HSE, Local Authorities, Children’s and Young People’s Services Committees, Sport Ireland, the Creative Ireland Programme, Libraries Ireland and Bord Bia.

The campaign is focused on five main themes. These are:

Keeping active and being outdoors. Physical activity can be really helpful in improving mood and reducing anxiety, in addition to keeping us all fit and healthy. Sport Ireland is leading a series of initiatives to support us in keeping active and to exercise within our own local areas and within social distancing guidelines. in addition, sporting organisations and clubs have developed ways to support local communities.

Staying connected with people safely, as addressing isolation, supporting volunteerism and initiatives that support person-to-person connection are vital to our well-being.

Earlier in the year saw the launch of the Community Call service, which aimed to provide supports to vulnerable groups. This was recently expanded, with Local Authorities supported to provide a local community helpline and befriending service.

Working with partner organisations, including An Garda Síochána, NGOs and Volunteer Ireland, there is a particular emphasis on identifying and supporting those most at risk of isolation.

Switching off and being creative or learning something new, getting back to nature and finding ways to relax can also be really beneficial for building resilience and general wellbeing. An example of this is The Design and Craft Council of Ireland’s recently launched range of initiatives involving craftspeople and makers across the country as part of a nationwide campaign.

Local Authorities and libraries, with involvement from Creative Ireland, and working with partners at national and local level, have developed and are providing a range of initiatives to support individual and community creativity in the arts, crafting, culture and heritage.

Eating well. By nourishing our bodies and minds, we can develop a better connection between the food we eat and how we feel and positively impact our physical and mental well-being.

Bord Bia are providing information and resources to support healthy eating over these months. In the coming months, a major initiative will commence to support more people to grow their own food, which will help to forge greater connections between community networks.

Minding your mood. Under this theme, people are being equipped with information on where to go if they need support. This will also be linked with the local community helpline to ensure that people can access the help they need.

The HSE have launched a series of “Minding Your Wellbeing” online videos, which provides an opportunity for people to learn more about key elements of mental wellbeing such as mindfulness, gratitude, self-care and resilience.

The Keep Well campaign is currently expected to run until March 2021, and Healthy Ireland campaigns will continue to support key Healthy Ireland outcomes; healthy eating, obesity reduction, increased levels of physical activity and positive mental health.

Future campaigns will, in addition, work with partners to support the wider determinants of health, the key themes in the forthcoming Healthy Ireland Strategy and the evolving national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Question No. 854 answered with Question No. 760.

Questions (853)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

853. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the process and procedures a person must adhere to in order to travel here to work as a prescribed essential worker for the spring, summer and autumn season in respect of seasonal agricultural workers that are EU citizens; and the Covid-19 mitigation measures they must undertake before arriving and on arrival. [6975/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the current regulations, only specific categories of travellers, these are listed on www.gov.ie, are exempt from completing mandatory quarantine. This list does not include seasonal agricultural workers.

From 16 January 2021, passengers, with limited exemptions, arriving into Ireland (except those arriving directly from Northern Ireland) are required to have a negative/‘not detected’ result from a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Ireland.

Arriving passengers are required to quarantine for 14 days at the address given on their Passenger Locator Form. A second ‘non-detected’ PCR test result taken no less than 5 days after arrival can end the quarantine period. However certain countries are designated as having a variant of concern (currently Brazil & South Africa) and arrivals from these countries do not have the option to end quarantine early.

Close consideration is continuously given to all travel measures and intending travellers should ensure that they are familiar with all Irish public health measures before travelling to Ireland.

Question No. 854 answered with Question No. 760.

Primary Medical Certificates

Questions (855)

Richard O'Donoghue

Question:

855. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Health his views on redeploying area medical staff resulting in the postponing of primary medical certificate assessments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6980/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme comes under the remit of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners. The extent of the involvement of Health Service Executive (HSE) personnel in the Scheme relates to making a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant meets the specified medical criteria for a Primary Medical Certificate, which is a requirement for the Scheme. This determination is undertaken by Senior Medical Officers for the relevant HSE Community Health Organisation on behalf of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners.

The Deputy may be aware that following a Supreme Court decision of June 2020, the assessment process for Primary Medical Certificates was suspended at the request of the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D. Following the approval of the Finance Act 2020 which provides for the medical criteria in primary legislation, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, T.D., issued an instruction to the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE to the effect that Primary Medical Certificate assessments can recommence with effect from 1st January, 2021.

Separately, the ability to hold assessments may be impacted by, among other things, the public health restrictions in place and the role of the HSE Medical Officers in the roll out of the COVID vaccination programme. I understand that the HSE is considering the matter of Primary Medical Certificate assessments in the context of their revision of the HSE recovery and restoration plans, taking into account the pressures and challenges to the health services presented by COVID.

As the issue raised by the Deputy relating to the redeployment of Medical Officers is a service matter, I have arranged to have the question referred to the HSE for consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospice Services

Questions (856)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

856. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Health if funding for a hospice (details supplied) will be included in the 2021 HSE service plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6985/21]

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 (857)

Joe Flaherty

Question:

857. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Health if there are provisions to facilitate parents who have to accompany a child on a flight to the UK in the context of Covid-19 restrictions and polymerase chain reaction, PCR, test requirements (details supplied). [6987/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The risks posed by new variants of concern have necessitated the adoption of more stringent travel measures to mitigate against importation of these variants.

S.I. No. 29 of 2021 along with S.I. No. 30 of 2021 (Fixed Penalty Notice Regulations) were signed on Friday 29 January last. These Regulations give effect to Government decisions of 26 January 2021 by providing for the extension of the current public health restrictions to 5th March 2021 and that a person whose place of residence is in the State shall not leave it to go to an airport or port for the purposes of leaving the State without reasonable excuse.

Reasonable excuses for travel to an airport or port for purpose of leaving the State include:

- To attend, for educational reasons a primary or secondary school, or a university, higher education institution or other education and training facility, to the extent that it is necessary for such educational reasons to attend in person

- To accompany any other person residing with the person, or a vulnerable person, to one of the education facilities mentioned above.

Since the 16th January it has been a requirement for passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas to present a COVID-19 passenger locator form and evidence of a negative pre-departure RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel upon boarding and to border officials upon arrival. In circumstances where the stay abroad is less than 72 hours, the test can be taken prior to departure.

All arrivals from overseas, with limited exemptions are required to complete mandatory home quarantine upon returning to Ireland. A second ‘non-detected’ PCR test result taken no less than 5 days after arrival can end the quarantine period.

My Department is giving continuing consideration to the operation of these regulations.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (858)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

858. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health when residents in a care facility (details supplied) in Dublin 7 will receive the Covid-19 vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6990/21]

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.

Hospital Staff

Questions (859)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

859. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 651 of 20 January 2021, when a staffing model will be submitted for the new acute unit in Mallow General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6993/21]

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.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (860)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

860. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health when a child (details supplied) with scoliosis will get an operation. [6996/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures, including scoliosis services, remains a priority of Government. On 2nd January 2021, the HSE issued correspondence to the Acute hospital system advising of the need to curtail scheduled elective care. This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions and the projected trend in admissions based upon community transmission levels of Covid-19. CHI has advised that under the current HSE guidelines, they have reduced the number of procedures to urgent and those that are time sensitive rather than a blanket cessation of all routine activity as was done in March last year.

CHI have confirmed that urgent Outpatient appointments continue to be held face to face, while some routine appointments have been deferred. Many specialties have switched to virtual appointments with some blended face to face appointments where deemed appropriate.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. Key social distancing measures and Infection Prevention and Control requirements, such as the current two-metre distancing, have had a material impact on the available physical space to deliver services, including scoliosis procedures. However, Children’s Health Ireland have confirmed that time dependent and urgent procedures will continue to be undertaken in CHI.

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.

Primary Medical Certificates

Questions (861)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

861. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health the engagement he has had with the Minister for Finance with regard to plans to allow applications for primary medical certificates to be processed and approved by general practitioners given the ongoing backlog in applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6999/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme comes under the remit of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners. The extent of the involvement of Health Service Executive (HSE) personnel in the Scheme relates to making a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant meets the specified medical criteria for a Primary Medical Certificate, which is a requirement for the Scheme. This determination is undertaken by Senior Medical Officers for the relevant HSE Community Health Organisation on behalf of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners.

The Deputy may be aware that following a Supreme Court decision of June 2020, the assessment process for Primary Medical Certificates was suspended at the request of the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D. Following the approval of the Finance Act 2020 which provides for the medical criteria in primary legislation, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, T.D., issued an instruction to the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE to the effect that Primary Medical Certificate assessments can recommence with effect from 1st January, 2021.

Separately, the ability to hold assessments may be impacted by, among other things, the public health restrictions in place and the role of the HSE Medical Officers in the roll out of the COVID vaccination programme. I have been informed that the HSE is considering the matter of Primary Medical Certificate assessments in the context of their revision of the HSE recovery and restoration plans, taking into account the pressures and challenges to the health services presented by COVID.

I understand that there is no legal basis within the Department of Finance regulations governing the Scheme, to have Primary Medical Certificate assessments undertaken by General Practitioners.

As the issue raised by the Deputy relating to Primary Medical Certificate assessments undertaken since January 2021 is a service matter, I have arranged to have the question referred to the HSE for consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.

Primary Medical Certificates

Questions (862)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

862. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health the number of primary medical certificate applications that have been processed, granted and refused since the scheme recommenced in January 2021; the number of applications waiting to be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7000/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme comes under the remit of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners. The extent of the involvement of Health Service Executive (HSE) personnel in the Scheme relates to making a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant meets the specified medical criteria for a Primary Medical Certificate, which is a requirement for the Scheme. This determination is undertaken by Senior Medical Officers for the relevant HSE Community Health Organisation on behalf of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners.

The Deputy may be aware that following a Supreme Court decision of June 2020, the assessment process for Primary Medical Certificates was suspended at the request of the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D. Following the approval of the Finance Act 2020 which provides for the medical criteria in primary legislation, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, T.D., issued an instruction to the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE to the effect that Primary Medical Certificate assessments can recommence with effect from 1st January, 2021.

Separately, the ability to hold assessments may be impacted by, among other things, the public health restrictions in place and the role of the HSE Medical Officers in the roll out of the COVID vaccination programme. I have been informed that the HSE is considering the matter of Primary Medical Certificate assessments in the context of their revision of the HSE recovery and restoration plans, taking into account the pressures and challenges to the health services presented by COVID.

As the issue raised by the Deputy is a service matter, I have arranged to have the question referred to the HSE for consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.