Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (292)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

292. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health the number of Covid-19 patients who were discharged from hospital into a residential care facility throughout the pandemic. [9213/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond to the deputy directly.

National Children's Hospital

Questions (293)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

293. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health the estimated cost of the construction of the national children's hospital to date. [9214/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The approved overall capital budget of the national children's hospital project is €1.433bn. This includes all of the capital cost for the main hospital at St James's Hospital campus, the two Outpatient Department and urgent care centres at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown and Tallaght University Hospital campuses, equipment for the three sites, and the construction of the carpark and retail spaces. The €1.433bn budget does not take into account the cost of Covid 19.

Since the commencement of the National Children’s Hospital construction a total of €618.29m has been drawn down for ongoing works on the project. The drawdown is for incurred expenditure only.

Of this total, €13.12m has been drawn down in 2021.

National Children's Hospital

Questions (294)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

294. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health the current estimated costs of the construction of the new national children's hospital. [9215/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The approved overall capital budget of the national children's hospital project is €1.433bn. This includes all of the capital costs for the main hospital at St James's Hospital campus, the two Outpatient Departments and Urgent Care Centres at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown and Tallaght University Hospital campuses, equipment for the three sites, and the construction of the carpark and retail spaces. The €1.433bn does not take into account the cost of Covid-19.

Additional costs in relation to the integration and transfer of the services of the three children’s hospitals to the new sites brings the total budget to €1.73bn.

This includes investment in ICT, an Electronic Health Record system, the Children's Hospital Integration Programme (the merging of three paediatric hospitals), pre-2013 project expenditure relating to the former Mater project, and the planned construction of the Children’s Research and Innovation Centre to be funded through philanthropic funding. The inclusion of these elements alongside the capital build account for a total overall project budget of €1.73bn.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) has undertaken an assessment of the current position in order to assess a revised likely timeframe and potential costs. The Department has sought independent expert advice to assist with its consideration of the NPHDB's review.

When this work is completed, before the end of this month, it will be submitted to me as Minister and then relevant stakeholders will be updated.

Until that work is complete, and as advised to the PAC Committee on 9th February, it would be premature to speculate on any definitive updates at this time.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (295)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

295. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if he has met with any person or family who identified themselves as persons effected by the various scandals involving the CervicalCheck screening programme since he assumed office; if he will provide a list of these meetings; the persons in attendance at the meetings; and the dates on which they occurred. [9225/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Yes I have, although I do not intend to provide information in respect of engagements with individuals or their families, so I will confine my response to details of formal engagements with representatives of the 221+ CervicalCheck Patient Support Group, whom I met on a number of occasions: Wednesday, 2 September 2020, Friday, 23 October 2020 and Monday, 26 October 2020.

At these meetings I engaged in discussion with the representatives of the Group on their experiences and concerns and to find the best way forward for those affected by CervicalCheck issues.

The two later meetings were held specifically in relation to the CervicalCheck Tribunal and how cases arising from CervicalCheck would be dealt with.

I am committed to supporting the central role that patients play in the development of health policy and the reform of health services, the 221+Group play a vital role in this regard. The 221+Group provide essential services in assisting patients and next of kin of those directly affected by the CervicalCheck issues through the provision of information, advice and support.

An independent Chairperson was appointed to The CervicalCheck Steering Committee in October 2020. Professor Anne Scott, Vice-President for Equality and Diversity, NUI Galway, chaired the first meeting of the Committee in January, a second meeting is scheduled later this month. Two patient representatives from the 221+Group are on the CervicalCheck Steering Committee.

Funding for the 221+ Support Group has been extended beyond August 2021, funding will support the Group going forward so that it can continue its very important work in assisting patients and next of kin of those directly affected by the CervicalCheck issues through the provision of information, advice and support.

Pension Provisions

Questions (296)

John McGuinness

Question:

296. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health the reason the increases due to the pension of a person (details supplied) did not issue in September 2019 and in September 2020; and if all outstanding increases due to will be applied to the person's pension and paid immediately. [9233/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I have requested the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Ambulance Service

Questions (297)

John McGuinness

Question:

297. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if there is a procurement process in place to provide bottled water for use by staff and patients in the ambulance service; if it is HSE policy to provide bottled water in ambulances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9234/21]

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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.

Ambulance Service

Questions (298)

John McGuinness

Question:

298. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health when funding will be provided for the construction of a purpose-built ambulance base in Carlow to replace the temporary prefabricated structure that has been used for over 17 years and which falls well short of health and safety standards; if a site has been identified for the construction of the project; if the project is a priority on the capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9237/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to this matter.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (299)

Paul McAuliffe

Question:

299. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Health the reason for not allowing general practitioners to carry out vaccinations in larger facilities, for example, in local sports halls; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9239/21]

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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.

Disabilities Assessments

Questions (300)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

300. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health his views on claims that the preliminary team assessment falls short of the standard required to deliver a proper assessment of a possible diagnosis of a child and that it is the direct opposite of that planned in the Disability Act 2005; and his further views on assertions that the implementation of the preliminary team assessment has exacerbated an already intolerable situation for the children and their families and should cease immediately. [9245/21]

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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.

Disabilities Assessments

Questions (301)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

301. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health his views on claims that preliminary team assessment could be in breach of codes of conduct and ethics set down by the regulator of the sector, CORU; and his views on the assertion that it is unethical to expect clinicians to complete a 90-minute assessment and make a determination of disability. [9246/21]

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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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (302)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

302. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if he will respond to representations (details supplied) regarding wedding issues and the numbers allowed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9249/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy is aware, Ireland is currently at level 5 of the Government's medium-term Plan Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19, which sets out Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19.

The Plan aims to allow society and businesses to operate as normally as possible, while protecting our key priorities of supporting and maintaining health and social care services, keeping education and childcare services open and protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities.

At Level 5, 6 guests may attend the wedding and wedding ceremony irrespective of venue. This does not include the persons getting married or persons attending in a professional capacity. The various limits at all levels in the Government's Plan are all designed to reduce the number of households mixing with each other and cut down the virus’s chances of spreading into more homes. 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.

As I'm sure the Deputy can appreciate, COVID-19 spreads when individuals and groups come into close contact with one another, enabling the virus to move from one person to another. COVID-19 is infectious in a person with no symptoms, or for the period of time before they develop symptoms. In certain settings, such as weddings, higher noise levels due to music, can force people into close proximity, requiring them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading the virus to others.

It is not possible to say what public health measures will be in place in the future. The public health advice relating to Covid-19 is kept under continuing review by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), by my Department and by the Government . The measures in place and the public health advice have been adapted to the changing circumstances and this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

Details of the public health measures currently in place for weddings can be found at:- https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/#weddings

You may also wish to note that Fáilte Ireland has provided guidelines for the hospitality industry which includes guidance on weddings and is available at: -

https://failtecdn.azureedge.net/failteireland/Guidelines-for-Re-opening-Hotels-and-Guesthouses.pdf

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (303)

Réada Cronin

Question:

303. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health the risk assessment that was presented to his Department and thereafter to Cabinet with regard to building sites and Covid-19 transmission; if a cost-benefit analysis of closure was undertaken and presented to his Department and thereafter to Cabinet; the information on which public health officials work in relation to Covid-19 transmission in the construction industry vis-à-vis- that used by their European counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9270/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As you will be aware, Ireland is at level 5 of the Government's 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 various limits at all levels in the Government's Plan and the continuing imposition of public health measures is necessary to reduce transmission of COVID-19 through a reduction in the movement of people, congregation and interactions. The measures in place for each level reflect the prevailing disease situation and recognise that we can and must prioritise some activities over others.

Information in relation to the public health measures for construction at level 5 is available at:-https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/#construction

I would also draw your attention to the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (NO. 10) Regulations 2020 Regulation (S.I. 701 of 2020), as amended by S.I. No. 4 of 2021, which sets out what are essential construction and developments.

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/

At the start of January, transmission levels were at exceptionally high levels and this required the application of very severe restrictions to reduce opportunities for transmission as much as possible, which included the shutdown of the construction sector.

You may wish to note that my Department does not have responsibility for the construction sector. The shutdown of the construction sector (including the construction and developments permitted to continue), was confirmed by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage by press release on the 6 January, 2021. Further information on these projects is available here:-https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/53a69-minister-obrien-confirms-shutdown-in-construction-activity/

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (304)

Carol Nolan

Question:

304. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health if there are obstacles to the private purchase of Covid-19 vaccinations from either within or outside the EU by private Irish medical organisations or hospitals, private companies or philanthropic organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9271/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Ireland is participating in a Procurement Exercise being operated by the European Commission on behalf of Member States to procure suitable, safe and effective vaccines, in sufficient quantities, to combat COVID-19.

While there is nothing that specifically restricts the method of sale and supply of vaccines against Covid-19, as Conditional Market Authorisations are based on the quality, safety and efficacy aspects of the medicinal product, the State is taking measures to ensure that sufficient vaccines will be made available to vaccinate any persons seeking to be vaccinated such that such private purchase is unlikely to be necessary.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (305)

Carol Nolan

Question:

305. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health if it is possible for residents and or citizens of Ireland to travel to Northern Ireland for receipt of the Covid-19 vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9272/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The administration of and access to vaccines in Northern Ireland fall under the jurisdiction of the Northern Irish authorities.

SI No. 701 of 2020, as amended, provides that a person whose place of residence is in the State may not leave their place of residence without reasonable excuse. A non-exhaustive list of reasonable excuses is contained within the SI. Leaving a place of residence without reasonable excuse is subject to penal provisions under section 31A of the Act of 1947.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (306)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

306. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Health the policy for general practitioners to make arrangements to use local community centres for vaccination purposes; the origin of the policy; if the policy is open for review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9273/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In the context of the recent decisions with regard to the use of mNRA vaccines for over 70s (Cohort 3) the HSE worked closely with the IMO, as the representative body for General Practice, on developing an alternative approach and plan to ensure safe and effective distribution and administration of the vaccine as early as possible to over 70s.

The plan having been agreed with the IMO was incorporated in the overall HSE operational model and guidance which was developed through a collaborative process involving a working group with senior HSE clinical and management input together with IMO and ICGP representation.

Having regard to the clinical and operational parameters involved, following discussion with the IMO, three distribution models were agreed. In the majority of circumstances patients will be vaccinated at their own GP surgery – however arrangements have also been made for a number of GP Vaccine Clinics e.g. Helix, DCU and CIT in Cork. Arrangements have also been made for a buddy up system where some practices will partner together in delivering to their patients over 70.

This model has been effectively deployed in collaboration with the IMO and general practice to proceed with the vaccination of the cohort of over 70s, which commenced with the over 85s from early this week, with GPs inviting those aged over 85 to come forward for vaccination.

Due to the clinical, operational and logistical exigencies and given the nature of the vaccine there are a range of transportation, storage, delivery and security considerations around the vaccines which have been taken into account and which require the vaccines to be delivered within the model as set out if we are to be in a position to assure consistently safe and effective distribution and administration of the vaccine. In this context it has not been possible to facilitate the accommodation of requests for deployment of vaccination clinics in local halls and centres notwithstanding the recognition of the motivation and good intentions of all involved.

Medical Aids and Appliances

Question No. 308 answered with Question No. 284.

Questions (307)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

307. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the status of an application for a mobility scooter by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9274/21]

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.

Question No. 308 answered with Question No. 284.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (309)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

309. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if the classification of key workers in the vaccine allocation plan has been decided; if this group will include early years professionals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9289/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department, together with the HSE, will consider those key workers who will be vaccinated under Group 6 of the Provisional Vaccine Allocation Groups as they are deemed to be essential to the vaccination programme.

In relation to key workers in Group 10 of the Provisional Vaccine Allocation Groups, work has commenced on defining these workers.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (310)

Thomas Gould

Question:

310. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health when persons with Addison’s disease will be included in the vaccine roll-out. [9298/21]

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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 front-line 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 start in the week beginning the 15th of February.

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.