Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (863)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

863. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health his plans regarding front-line and nursing home staff who choose not to get vaccinated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7004/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (864)

Robert Troy

Question:

864. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health when private practice physiotherapists will receive the Covid-19 vaccine; if they will be prioritised, given that they are healthcare workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7007/21]

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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.

Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) in direct patient contact roles will be vaccinated in Group 2. This includes HCWs working in public, private, and voluntary settings. Other HCWs, not in direct patient contact, will be vaccinated in Group 4.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (865)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

865. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health when all front-line staff in St. John's and St. Camillus' community hospitals and St. Munchin's University Hospital, Limerick, will receive the Covid-19 vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7008/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Assisted Human Reproduction

Questions (866)

John Lahart

Question:

866. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health the details of the first four regional fertility hubs; if they are operational and seeing patients at this stage; the timeframe for further hubs; the specific actions planned in 2021 to develop the publicly funded model of fertility care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7022/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Question No. 868 answered with Question No. 748.

Questions (867)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

867. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the provisions in place for elderly persons who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 illness and have had their home help service ceased without notice; if there is an open line of communication with these persons to ensure their needs are catered for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7025/21]

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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.

Question No. 868 answered with Question No. 748.

Hospital Charges

Questions (869)

Pat Buckley

Question:

869. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Health his plans to direct the HSE to cease engaging debt-collecting agencies to pursue patients who are already under immense financial pressure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7047/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Patient charges are a key element of the overall funding envelope of the Irish health system and are taken into account when agreeing the Annual Estimates and the subsequent preparation of the annual National Service Plan.

These charges typically include:

- Out-patient charges;

- Emergency Department charges;

- Daily in-patient charges; and

- Long-term stay charges.

There are cohorts of people who are exempt from these charges, including, but not limited to persons with full eligibility, women receiving services in respect of motherhood, children up to the age of six weeks, children suffering from diseases prescribed under section 52 (2) of the Act, and persons receiving services for the diagnosis or treatment of infectious diseases.

In addition, patients who opt for private in-patient services in public hospitals are liable for a range of private accommodation charges. There are no exemptions from these charges.

Non collection of debts owed directly impacts on the affordability of services provided by the Health Service Executive in any year. It is therefore incumbent on the HSE to take all reasonable steps to pursue amounts owed for services delivered. Debt collection agencies are engaged when normal billing arrangements have been unsuccessful

The operational detail of this question is a matter for the HSE and I have asked them to respond to you directly in relation to that detail.

Hospital Charges

Questions (870)

Pat Buckley

Question:

870. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Health the amount spent by the HSE procuring debt collecting services directed at patients in each of the years 2018 to 2020 and to date in 2021, by CHO in tabular form. [7048/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Patient charges are a key element of the overall funding envelope of the Irish health system and are taken into account when agreeing the Annual Estimates and the subsequent preparation of the annual National Service Plan.

These charges typically include:

- Out-patient charges;

- Emergency Department charges;

- Daily in-patient charges; and

- Long-term stay charges.

There are cohorts of people who are exempt from these charges, including, but not limited to persons with full eligibility, women receiving services in respect of motherhood, children up to the age of six weeks, children suffering from diseases prescribed under section 52 (2) of the Act, and persons receiving services for the diagnosis or treatment of infectious diseases.

In addition, patients who opt for private in-patient services in public hospitals are liable for a range of private accommodation charges. There are no exemptions from these charges.

Non collection of debts owed directly impacts on the affordability of services provided by the Health Service Executive in any year. It is therefore incumbent on the HSE to take all reasonable steps to pursue amounts owed for services delivered. Debt collection agencies are engaged when normal billing arrangements have been unsuccessful

The operational detail of this question is a matter for the HSE and I have asked them to respond to you directly in relation to that detail.

Hospital Charges

Questions (871)

Pat Buckley

Question:

871. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Health the amount received in collected debts by debt collectors procured by the HSE directed at patients in each of the years 2018 to 2020 and to date in 2021, by CHO in tabular form. [7049/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Patient charges are a key element of the overall funding envelope of the Irish health system and are taken into account when agreeing the Annual Estimates and the subsequent preparation of the annual National Service Plan.

These charges typically include:

- Out-patient charges;

- Emergency Department charges;

- Daily in-patient charges; and

- Long-term stay charges.

There are cohorts of people who are exempt from these charges, including, but not limited to persons with full eligibility, women receiving services in respect of motherhood, children up to the age of six weeks, children suffering from diseases prescribed under section 52 (2) of the Act, and persons receiving services for the diagnosis or treatment of infectious diseases.

In addition, patients who opt for private in-patient services in public hospitals are liable for a range of private accommodation charges. There are no exemptions from these charges.

Non collection of debts owed directly impacts on the affordability of services provided by the Health Service Executive in any year. It is therefore incumbent on the HSE to take all reasonable steps to pursue amounts owed for services delivered. Debt collection agencies are engaged when normal billing arrangements have been unsuccessful

The operational detail of this question is a matter for the HSE and I have asked them to respond to you directly in relation to that detail.

Animal Culls

Questions (872, 873)

Matt Carthy

Question:

872. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health when public health advice from the CMO changed to no longer recommend a cull be carried out on farmed mink; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7055/21]

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Matt Carthy

Question:

873. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the basis on which public health advice from the CMO changed to no longer recommend that a cull be carried out on farmed mink; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7056/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 872 and 873 together.

On 16 November, the CMO recommended that all farmed mink in the State be culled on public health grounds and wrote to the CVO in the Department of Agriculture on that basis.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine continues to progress this matter with the farmers, the Office of the Attorney General and my Department with the intention to complete this matter as soon as practically possible.

Whilst this process is being actively advanced, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is undertaking surveillance of the animals, with no evidence of infection to date, and the HSE has engaged with the workers on these farms regarding health screening to ensure there is no current public health risk and to mitigate the risk of any such development.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (874)

Matt Carthy

Question:

874. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the details of all NPHET recommendations conveyed to him in respect of meat processing plants and the food processing industry since 1 October 2020; the actions undertaken by his Department on foot of each of these recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7057/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In August, following the emergence of clusters in Meat Processing Plants in the midlands, NPHET made a series of recommendations to support the affected workplaces and for the protection of vulnerable groups.

This included the establishment by the HSE of a National Standing Oversight Committee on COVID-19 to maintain an ongoing review of the impact of COVID-19 in high risk industries. This Committee has representation from the agencies involved in outbreak oversight in the affected industries, as well as representation from the relevant industries.

The HSE has undertaken a number of measures, including:

- National guidance on the management of outbreaks was first developed in May 2020 and has been updated twice since then.

- Meat plants which have current outbreaks receive Public Health advice on management of the outbreak from their local HSE Dept of Public Health

- Translated information on Covid 19 is available from the HSE. Translators are used as required during HSE contact tracing.

- HSE serial testing of staff in meat plants is on a four-weekly cycle.

- DAFM is assisting the HSE with an evaluation of rapid antigen testing in a small number of meat processing plants comparing the results of rapid antigen testing with PCR testing.

The letters detailing the NPHET recommendations are available at: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/ba4aa0-letters-from-the-cmo-to-the-minister-for-health/#august-december-2020

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (875, 878, 879, 880)

Matt Carthy

Question:

875. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the number of meat and food processing plants at which serial testing has occurred since 1 October 2020, by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7058/21]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

878. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health if his Department is aware of instances in which meat processing plants have not alerted public health if they are informed of, or suspect, cases of Covid-19 among their workforce since December 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7061/21]

View answer

Matt Carthy

Question:

879. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the dates serial testing for Covid-19 occurred at locations (details supplied) from September 2020 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7062/21]

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Matt Carthy

Question:

880. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health if the testing that occurred for Covid-19 at locations (details supplied) occurred as part of a scheduled serial testing programme or in response to an individual confirmed case. [7063/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 875 and 878 to 880, inclusive, together.

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 (876)

Matt Carthy

Question:

876. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the environmental sampling that has been carried out in meat processing plants in which an outbreak of Covid-19 has occurred since 1 January 2020; the results of such sampling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7059/21]

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.

Meat Processing Plants

Questions Nos. 878 to 880, inclusive, answered with Question No. 875.

Questions (877)

Matt Carthy

Question:

877. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the number of unannounced HIQA inspections carried out in meat processing plants since December 2020; the locations and dates of these inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7060/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is an independent authority that exists to improve health and social care services for the people of Ireland.

HIQA does not carry out inspections of meat processing plants.

Questions Nos. 878 to 880, inclusive, answered with Question No. 875.

HSE National Service Plan

Questions (881)

Mark Ward

Question:

881. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health when the HSE service plan will be released given, that many organisations in the charity sector are waiting to find out if they will have sufficient levels of funding in 2021 to be able to provide essential mental health services in communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7068/21]

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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.