Obesity Strategy

Questions (757)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

757. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the details of the members of the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group; the members of the two subgroups of the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group on reformulation and healthy eating; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8282/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland’, the Government’s Obesity Policy and Action Plan (OPAP), was launched in September 2016 under the auspices of the Healthy Ireland agenda. It covers a ten year period up to 2025 and aims to reverse obesity trends, prevent health complications and reduce the overall burden for individuals, families, the health system, and the wider society and economy.

An Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group (OPIOG) was established in October 2017. On establishment the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group identified key early areas for action and established two sub-groups, one on Healthy Eating and one on Reformulation.

The OPIOG is currently being chaired by Laura Magahy, Sláintecare Executive Director and Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Health, on an interim basis. The other members of the OPIOG are:

- Anne-Marie Brooks - Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

- Charles Martin - Department of Social Protection

- Ronan Kielt - Department of Education

- Martin Colreavy - Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

- Angela Robinson - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

- Prof. Ivan Perry - University College, Cork

- Pamela Byrne - CEO, Food Safety Authority of Ireland

- Dr. Wayne Anderson - Food Safety Authority of Ireland

- Prof. Donal O’Shea - Health Service Executive

- Sarah O’Brien - Health Service Executive

- Dr. Catherine Conlon - Safe food

- Seamus O’Reilly - Department of Health

- Ursula O’Dwyer - Department of Health

The members of the Healthy Eating Subgroup are:

- Ursula O’Dwyer - Department of Health (Chair)

- Maeve Lynch - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

- Carmel O’Keeffe - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

- Charles Martin - Department of Social Protection

- Anne Marie Brooks - Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

- Ronan Kielt - Department of Education

- Dr. Mary Flynn - Food Safety Authority of Ireland

- Margaret O’Neill - Health Service Executive

- Joana Caldeira Fernandes da Silva - safe food

- Jennifer Feighan - CEO, Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute

- Dr. Janas Harrington - University College, Cork

- Seamus O’Reilly - Department of Health

The members of the Reformulation Subgroup are:

- Prof Ivan Perry - School of Public Health University College, Cork (Chair)

- Dr Janas Harrington - School of Public Health, University College, Cork

- Dr Fiona Geaney - University College, Cork

- Joana Caldeira Fernandes da Silva - safe food

- Kathleen Mooney - Food Standards Agency, Northern Ireland

- Dr Sinead McCarthy - Teagasc

- Dr Mary Flynn - Food Safety Authority of Ireland

- Niall McKeown - Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

- Ursula O 'Dwyer - Department of Health

- Seamus O’Reilly - Department of Health

Vaccination Programme

Questions (758)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

758. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health his plans for the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine to residents of the Aran Islands and other offshore islands; the provisions planned to allow island residents, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable, to access the vaccine without being required to take the boat to the mainland, which would involve the risk of transmission of the virus and the dangers posed by inclement winter weather; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8302/21]

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.

Maternity Services

Questions (759)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

759. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the status and details of the maternity budget, specifically perinatal mental health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8312/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

This Government is fully committed to the development and improvement of Women’s Health services and to working with women and girls to improve all areas of their health across the whole life cycle. In that regard a strong commitment was made in the Programme for Government to Promoting Women’s Health and Budget 2021 provides a very significant investment to deliver on this commitment. This includes funding of €12m to ensure a renewed impetus to the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy and to improve gynaecology services. In addition, building on the work of the Women’s Health Taskforce, a €5m Women’s Health Fund was allocated in Budget 2021 to improve women’s health outcomes and experiences of healthcare.

In relation to the breakdown of development funding allocated to maternity and gynaecology services for 2021, as this is an operational matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Maternity Services

Questions (760)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

760. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the status of the comprehensive mental health assessment within the perinatal mental health integrated care pathway; the circumstances in which one is administered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8313/21]

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.

Maternity Services

Questions (761)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

761. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the number of mental health midwives; the training they receive; the role of mental health midwives with the perinatal mental health integrated care pathway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8314/21]

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.

Maternity Services

Questions (762)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

762. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the performance indicators of mental health referrals within the maternity services; if information will be provided on the effectiveness of the perinatal mental health pathway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8315/21]

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.

Maternity Services

Questions (763)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

763. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the status of the perinatal mental health integrated care pathway; the performance indicators of this pathway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8316/21]

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.

Maternity Services

Questions (764)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

764. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the status of the implementation of actions 19 to 25 outlined in the national maternity strategy implementation plan; the action being taken to address those not fully implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8317/21]

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.

Maternity Services

Questions (765)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

765. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the status of and information on specialist perinatal mental health model of care, particularly the evaluation of the implementation of this model of care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8318/21]

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.

Maternity Services

Questions (766)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

766. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the status of the programme metrics and evaluation of the specialist perinatal mental health services; if they use the patient outcomes and experience tool measures; if he will provide information on service user engagement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8319/21]

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.

Maternity Services

Questions (767)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

767. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Health the status of the National Women and Infant Health Programme; if he will provide performance indicators in this regard; the actions being taken regarding maternal mental health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8320/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

In January 2017, the National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP) was established in the HSE to lead the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, strengthening such services by bringing together work that was being undertaken across primary, community and acute care. In addition, the Programme was mandated to drive and lead the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy.

The NWIHP therefore provides strategic direction and leadership, drives improvement, and fosters a learning culture in maternity, neonatal and gynaecological services. The Programme also aims to ensure that learning from adverse incidents is disseminated and applied in a comprehensive and consistent manner, promoting a national approach to consistent, evidenced-based practice in maternity care. The Programme has identified the development of key performance indicators in the areas of maternity and gynaecology services as a priority for 2021.

The Programme is intended to act as the single central authority on maternity care and as a reference point and resource for women’s health issues within the HSE. The Programme is also tasked with the appropriate allocation and effective, specific targeting of all new development funding for maternity, neonatal and gynaecological services.

In relation to the actions being taken regarding maternal mental health, the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service Model of Care was launched by the HSE in November 2017 and is currently being implemented. The new model of care addresses the seven key actions identified in the National Maternity Strategy, including developing and delivering access to appropriate care, early identification and a multidisciplinary approach by skilled professionals, including standardised access to perinatal psychiatry and psychology.

Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services are aligned to the six maternity networks and, in that context, are being developed in a hub and spoke model. Funding of some €3.6m was provided in recent years for the six Specialist Perinatal Mental Health hub teams at the Rotunda Hospital; National Maternity Hospital; Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital; Cork University Maternity Hospital; University of Limerick Maternity Hospital; and University Hospital Galway. While some gaps in staffing remain, all of the hub sites are now in operation. On average, eight to nine multidisciplinary staff provide services at each site.

Along with six hub teams, there are 13 spoke sites in the other maternity units. An integral component of the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service Model of Care is the deployment of a mental health midwife to each of the 13 maternity spoke sites. The mental health midwife augments the liaison psychiatry services and their focus is on women with mild to moderate mental health problems throughout the perinatal period. An equally important aspect is to educate all midwives, public health and practice nurses on the need to ask women about their mental, as well as their physical health. 11 of the 13 spoke mental health midwives are now in place and the recruitment process is in train for the two remaining sites.

Cannabis for Medicinal Use

Questions (768)

Mick Barry

Question:

768. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Health if he plans to bring amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 to ensure that plants containing cannabidiol, CBD, with a tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, content of less than 0.2% can be grown without fear of prosecution and to align Irish law with EU legislation on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8325/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The two most common active components found in cannabis oil are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. Under the Misuse of Drugs legislation products containing THC are strictly controlled and possession is unlawful except under licence.

CBD is derived from cannabis. However, since CBD alone it is not psychoactive it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977-2016 and the Regulations and Orders made thereunder- it is an offence to cultivate, import, export, produce, supply and possess cannabis except in accordance with a licence.

The Misuse of Drugs (Designation) Order 2017 (Statutory Instrument 174/2017) states that the manufacture, production, preparation, sale, supply, distribution and possession of the drugs specified in Schedule 1 is unlawful except for the purposes specified in Schedule 2, namely research, forensic analysis or use as an essential intermediate or starting material in an industrial manufacturing process. This includes cannabis.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (769)

Joe McHugh

Question:

769. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health if there are issues with the manufacturing of the pneumonia vaccine given that there appears to be a shortage in supply in recent months (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8327/21]

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.

State Claims Agency

Questions (770)

Holly Cairns

Question:

770. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to ensure that the State Claims Agency will not include or bring in external laboratories in relation to cases regarding the CervicalCheck scandal given the outcome of a High Court case (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8340/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The State Claims Agency (SCA) has a statutory remit to manage personal injury claims on behalf of Delegated State Authorities including the Health Service Executive. The management of such cases is delegated to the SCA and, as such, the Government has no role in determining how these cases are conducted.

In respect of the case referred to by the Deputy, the finding of primary liability against the HSE arose because the third-party laboratories who had responsibility for reviewing the relevant smear tests were found to have been negligent. To determine if there is a liability on the State, it must first be determined if there has been negligence by the laboratories. In the CervicalCheck Tribunal, or in the High Court, a woman can choose not to sue the laboratories, and to make a claim only against the HSE. However, the laboratories will still need to be involved, as it is their reading of smears that is at issue.

In a recent case, the laboratories were involved as ‘third parties’ rather than defendants, and the CervicalCheck Tribunal can facilitate that model.

The SCA have clarified that where a woman chooses not to name the laboratories as defendants, it will not seek to challenge this and will instead join the laboratories as third parties. This is on the basis that the issues between the State and the laboratories will be dealt with during the same proceedings.

General Practitioner Services

Questions (771)

Holly Cairns

Question:

771. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health if each Irish resident is entitled to attend a general practitioner; the recourse available to a person if a general practitioner practice refuses to engage with them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8342/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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. Where a medical card or GP visit card holder experiences difficulty in finding a GP to accept him/her as a patient, or where the person has been removed from another GP's list or refused entry onto a GP's list, the HSE has the power to assign that person to a GP's GMS patient list.

People who do not hold a medical card or GP visit card access GP services on a private basis and can make enquiries directly to any GP practice they wish to register with. As private contractors, it is a matter for each individual GP to decide whether to accept additional private patients. Where a GP practice has a full list of patients and cannot take on new patients, patients should contact other GP practices in the surrounding areas.

The Government is aware of the workforce issues currently facing general practice, including the limited access to GP services in certain areas, and has implemented a number of measures to improve recruitment and retention in general practice.

These measures include an increase in investment in general practice by approximately 40% (€210 million) between 2019 and 2023 under the terms of the 2019 GMS GP Agreement GP. The Agreement provides for increased support for GPs working in rural practices and for those in disadvantaged urban areas, and for improvements to maternity and paternity leave arrangements. In addition, the number of GPs entering training has been increased steadily over the past number of years, rising from 120 in 2009 to 214 in 2020, with a further increase foreseen in 2021. The ICGP noted a record number of applications for the 2021 GP training programme.

These measures will see an increase in the number of GPs working in the State, improving access to GP services for patients throughout the country.

Eating Disorders

Questions (772)

Holly Cairns

Question:

772. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 304 of 28 January 2021, the actions he or his officials have taken since he took office to ensure the development of eating disorder treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8343/21]

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

National Cervical Screening Programme

Questions (773)

Holly Cairns

Question:

773. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the number of women currently involved in court cases, litigation and negotiation with the HSE regarding the alleged misreading of their smear tests from the CervicalCheck screening programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8344/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The State Claims Agency (SCA) has a statutory remit to manage personal injury claims on behalf of Delegated State Authorities including the Health Service Executive.The State Claims Agency has provided me with the following information, in respect of the Deputy's question. I have been informed that the information below has been extracted from the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and is accurate as of 12/02/2020.

To date, 197 claims have been received from women regarding the alleged misreading of their smear tests and a further 45 claims have been received from family members/dependents. Of the 242 claims, proceedings have been issued in respect of 186 of these claims. To date, 28 claims have been concluded.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Questions (774)

Holly Cairns

Question:

774. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the details of the provisions in the CervicalCheck tribunal for settlement amounts for the potential future recurrence of cancer; the pathways and terms on which those affected can return to the tribunal for redress in that event as provided for in the hepatitis C and HIV compensation tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8346/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The issue of recurrence has been examined in great detail by the government as well as the previous government and I have engaged in extensive consideration on this most sensitive issue.

The form of the CervicalCheck Tribunal is based on the report of the Hon. Mr. Justice Charles Meenan on an Alternative System for Dealing with Claims Arising from CervicalCheck. In his report Mr. Justice Meenan explained the limitations of the screening process and the implications that these limitations have for the issue of liability with regard to CervicalCheck claims.

Mr. Justice Meenan considered the appropriateness of a redress or compensation scheme to address claims arising from CervicalCheck and referenced such schemes including the statutory Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal. Mr. Justice Meenan advised that such a scheme was not appropriate for CervicalCheck cases as in those schemes it was not necessary to prove negligence or breach of duty for compensatory damage, and instead recommended a format that would allow the issues of liability to be addressed.

Judge Meenan recommended that the Tribunal would have power to determine issues of liability and award damages on the same basis as a judge of the High Court, and that the Tribunal legislation should require the Tribunal to hear and determine claims on the same basis as that Court.

Accordingly, the Tribunal will make awards relating to recurrence in the same way as the High Court. That is, an additional amount can be made as part of the Tribunal settlement, to factor in a future chance of recurrence.

An advantage of the Tribunal over the courts is that, if a claimant does not wish to accept the amount awarded by the Tribunal, they can appeal to the High Court, an extra step that would not be available if the claimant had gone directly to the High Court. However, just like the Court system, a claimant cannot return with a second claim in respect of the same event years later. Providing for eligible women to return to the Tribunal for additional claims would also require the Tribunal to be in existence indefinitely.

In his Report Mr. Justice Meenan set out the necessary features of any alternative system for CervicalCheck claims, which in addition to recognising the issues of liability involved, included that participation in any alternative system must be on a voluntary basis.

It is unlikely that respondents or third parties would consent to participate in an open-ended process when the courts could offer certainty and finality, meaning that no cases would ultimately be heard by the Tribunal, leaving the eligible women with no option other than the courts.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Questions (775)

Holly Cairns

Question:

775. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health his views on extending the statute of limitations for those individuals affected by the CervicalCheck scandal to lodge a High Court case given the complications of both Covid-19 and the delay in establishing the CervicalCheck tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8347/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

A concern has been raised that some women eligible for the CervicalCheck Tribunal may now be outside the Statute of Limitations as a result of the delay in establishing the Tribunal, which was due to COVID-19 and issues with regard to Tribunal membership.

Any extension to the statute of limitations in respect of claims before the High Court would be a matter for the Minister for Justice. However, I understand that it is not possible to address this issue by extending the statute retrospectively.

With regard to the CervicalCheck Tribunal, It isn’t yet clear if any women who wish to take claims before the Tribunal are in a position whereby they are outside of the statute of limitations owing to the delay in establishing the Tribunal. However, I have committed to develop a proposal to address any such claims appropriately, should the need arise.

I would encourage any woman who is concerned about this situation to lodge their claim before the Tribunal without delay.

National Cervical Screening Programme

Questions (776)

Holly Cairns

Question:

776. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health his views on establishing a mediation process for those affected by the CervicalCheck scandal as an alternative to either the courts systems or the tribunal given the sensitivities of the cases and the health of those concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8348/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The State Claims Agency (SCA) has a statutory remit to manage personal injury claims on behalf of Delegated State Authorities including the Health Service Executive. The management of such cases is delegated to the SCA and, as such, the Government has no role in determining how these cases are conducted.

However, the SCA has affirmed its commitment to dealing with claims through mediation whenever possible.

I have also made a commitment to the 221+ patient representative group to providing access to mediation in a parallel process, and that I will work with the group to make mediation available at the earliest possible point in a claim.

The establishment of the CervicalCheck Tribunal, which can provide early hearing dates for claims, will be a useful tool to speed up the transfer of evidence from the labs that makes settlement by mediation possible.

Legislative Reviews

Questions (777)

Holly Cairns

Question:

777. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the details of the review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 which is due to take place not later than three years after its commencement under section 7 of the Act; the format this review will take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8350/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, section 7 of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 states that

"The Minister shall, not later than 3 years after the commencement of this section, carry out a review of the operation of this Act.”

The review clause was included in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 in order to facilitate monitoring of the operation of the legislation in practice, as well as of the delivery of services in the area.

Officials in my Department are working on details of the review of the operation of the Act, which, as set out in the Programme for Government Our Shared Future , will be conducted in 2021.

Paediatric Services

Questions (778)

Holly Cairns

Question:

778. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the locations of paediatric diabetes clinic services; the number of children each service supports annually; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8351/21]

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.

Mental Health Services

Questions (779)

Holly Cairns

Question:

779. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the location of the two adult ADHD teams recruited under the ADHD in Adults National Clinical Programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8352/21]

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 (780)

Holly Cairns

Question:

780. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to confusing wording regarding self-isolation on the HSELive website (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8353/21]

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (781)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

781. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the reason 800 persons outside the top two priority groups of nursing home residents and staff and front-line healthcare workers currently being inoculated have received Covid-19 vaccines; the location and reasons given for inoculation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8371/21]

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.