Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 116.

Question No. 183 answered with Question No. 138.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Question No. 185 answered with Question No. 116.

Questions (184)

Paul Donnelly

Question:

184. Deputy Paul Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the timeline to return to indoor training for dance schools; if persons are allowed to return to gyms for individual training and to partake in sports in which multiple persons are using the same equipment and so on; the reason this is not the case in relation to dance classes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30594/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

There has been considerable progress in reducing infection levels since the peak of the wave of infection in late 2020/early 2021 because of the widespread adherence by the public to the public health measures in place, and this progress was sustained during recent phases of reopening in April, May and June.

While significant progress is being made in relation to the roll-out of our vaccination programme and the epidemiological situation was broadly stable through most of June, the prevalence of the more transmissible Delta variant is rapidly increasing in Ireland and this poses a significant risk to those who are not yet fully protected though vaccination. Indicators of disease incidence are all now increasing.

I can confirm to the Deputy that on 7 June gyms reopened for individual training only. Solo dancing and individual dance instruction are included as activities under individual training and also restarted on the 7 June.

On 29 June, Government announced the next phase of reopening the economy and society in line with Recovery and Resilience: The Path Ahead, with an emphasis on lower risk activities given the risks posed by the Delta variant. Higher risk indoor activities, including organised events, service in bars and restaurants, group training, exercise and dance will not yet recommence, pending the implementation of a system to verify vaccination or immunity status.

As we further ease public health measures, our approach must continue to be cautious, gradual and phased, with sufficient time between any easing of measures to assess the impact. This will be critical to ensure that our progress in controlling the virus is maintained.

Significant and sustained progress has been made on suppressing the virus over recent months due to the huge effort of people across the country. By working together, we have saved lives and limited the impact of the disease on society in Ireland. To protect the gains of recent months we must continue to practice basic preventative behaviours and to follow public health guidelines.

Question No. 185 answered with Question No. 116.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (186)

Steven Matthews

Question:

186. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to case of home carers who have received one dose of a vaccine (details supplied) and have to wait 12-weeks for the second dose given that in many cases those they care for are now fully vaccinated; if their wait time will be expedited in view of variant concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30597/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

On 4 June I announced a shorter interval between doses for the Vaxzevria® (AstraZeneca) vaccine. This follows updated recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), which have been endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer. NIAC has concluded that those of any age (without any previous COVID-19 infection), who have received their first dose of Vaxzevria® should receive their second dose 8-12 weeks later.The HSE recently received updated advice from NIAC in relation to reducing the dose interval for the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine from 12 weeks to 8. Extensive planning has been required to put in place a programme that will now see the remaining, approximately 450,000 people, in receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine fully immunised through the administration of this second dose by the end of July.

Disability Services

Questions (187)

Pauline Tully

Question:

187. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the whole-time equivalent in therapist posts within the HSEs children’s disability services in each of the years 2016 to 2020 and to date in 2021, by therapy specialty, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists and social workers in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30598/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Disability Services

Questions (188)

Pauline Tully

Question:

188. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the funding that was allocated to recruit additional therapist posts in the HSEs children’s disability services in each of the years 2016 to 2020 and to date in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30599/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Disability Services

Questions (189)

Pauline Tully

Question:

189. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the shortfall in therapist posts within the HSEs children’s disability services identified in the HSEs Capacity Review Report on Disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30600/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Review of Disability Social Care Demand and Capacity Requirements to 2032 has been completed.

As we progress towards the vision outlined by Sláintecare, it is essential that over the next number of years, the State moves to a population-based planning approach, based on demographic and geographic considerations, that reflects both the health and social care needs of those within our population, including those who require specialist disability services.

I hope to be in a position to publish the Disability Capacity Review Report in the very near future, as this will inform the planning for the specialist disability services to meet evolving needs.

The Deputy may wish to note that provision has been made in the HSE National Service Plan 2021 for an additional 100 development posts for specialist children's disability therapy services. A number of these posts are now filled and approval for a further 85 posts has also been provided.

Medicinal Products

Questions (190)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

190. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health when zolgensma gene therapy will be approved for reimbursement for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30601/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines under the community drugs schemes, in accordance with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.

In line with the 2013 Health Act and the national framework agreed with industry, if a company would like a medicine to be reimbursed by the HSE, the company must submit an application to the HSE to have the new medicine added to the reimbursement list. Reimbursement is for licenced indications which have been granted market authorisation by the European Medicines Agency or the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

In making a relevant reimbursement decision, the HSE is required under the Act to have regard to a number of criteria, including efficacy, the health needs of the public, cost effectiveness and potential or actual budget impact.

HSE decisions on which medicines are reimbursed by the taxpayer are made on objective, scientific and economic grounds, on the advice of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE).

I am advised by the HSE that, in April 2020, the NCPE received a reimbursement application dossier for Onasemnogene abeparvovec (Zolgensma). On 13 May 2020, the NCPE completed a rapid review with respect to this application and recommended a full Health Technology Assessment (HTA) to assess the clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of Zolgensma compared with the current standard of care.

This HTA was undertaken as a part of the Beneluxa collaboration as a joint HTA between Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, with Austria acting as a reviewer.

The HTA was completed in May 2021 and an agreement on a draft joint mandate for potential joint negotiations was reached by the working group on 9 June 2021. If this mandate is approved by the national authorities in the participating countries, notice will be given to the applicant company that joint negotiations can commence in July.

A final decision on the pricing/reimbursement application for Zolgensma will be made in accordance with the 2013 Health Act.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (191)

Bríd Smith

Question:

191. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health the procedures in place to vaccinate those who could not avail of their vaccination slot through no fault of their own (details supplied); the steps they can take in order to obtain the vaccine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30602/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Health Services

Questions (192)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

192. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health if he, in conjunction with the HSE will ensure that those undertaking doctorates in counselling, educational psychology and so on, are treated the same as their counterparts studying clinical psychology in terms of HSE stipends and funding (details supplied). [30603/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Report of the Psychology Review Implementation Group in 2017 expanded the care group employment available to counselling and educational psychologists. The report’s recommendation led to the establishment of a Project Team to implement this recommendation.

In February 2019, HSE Community Operations convened a Project Team, chaired by Dr Cathal Morgan, comprised of representatives from Clinical, Counselling and Educational Psychology; Social Care, Disability, and Mental Health services; Community and Acute services; Operational and National HR; and the Health and Social Care Professions office.

The Project Team was tasked with, inter alia, considering the preparation of a workforce plan for psychological services in the HSE, including an examination of the current framework for training psychologists for the health service, and the type, and skill-mix, required for the future.

The work of the Project Team has been informed by a thorough stakeholder consultation process. It is expected that the Report of the Project Team will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Covid-19 Tests

Questions (193)

Seán Canney

Question:

193. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health the reason that children are required to have PCR tests when coming from EU countries when non-essential travel reopens in July 2021 given that children cannot be vaccinated and the requirement for PCR tests will put the cost of a family holiday beyond the means of many families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30604/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government has applied more stringent measures applying to international travel in order to mitigate against the risk of new variants being imported through travel and to protect the progress we are making in suppressing transmission domestically.

Under the current travel measures, as provided in S.I. 135/2021, children aged 6 and under are not required to have evidence of a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

These travel measures are kept under continuous review based on public health advice and the international epidemiological situation. The Government has announced revised travel policies to take effect from 19 July in keeping with the EU Digital Covid Certificate. Work to give effect to these measures is progressing on a cross-departmental basis.

Disability Services

Questions (194)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

194. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that funding will be made available to allow a facility (details supplied) to run a summer camp for children with special needs in Clonmel, County Tipperary in summer 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30610/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (195)

Paul Murphy

Question:

195. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to long-term Covid patients (details supplied) having difficulties accessing treatment and experiencing difficulties with employers; if he and or the HSE are providing or plan to provide support and treatment for those battling long-term Covid infections; if so, the details of the support and treatment; if he has considered establishing a register of long-Covid patients and official recognition of long-Covid for the purposes of illness benefit claims and educating the general public and employers of the existence of this hidden illness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30627/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Covid-19 is a new disease so information on it, its features and its course are still emerging. Scientific and clinical evidence is evolving on the long-term effects of COVID-19. An increasing number of reports and studies are now being published on the topic, however, at present there is no agreement on the definition or the terminology.

We do however, know that the clinical course of viral illnesses varies between people, and that the virus that causes Covid-19 can be detected in some people for many weeks. However, this does not mean that people are infectious for a prolonged period of time. People who have had Covid-19 are being followed up by their GP or in hospital settings. People in the community who are concerned about persistent Covid-19 symptoms should contact their GP. Treatment is currently focused on management of specific symptoms.

Fatigue is a common symptom after many viral infections and while most people recover in a short few days or weeks it can be prolonged and more severe for others. The reason for this is unclear. We would usually expect people to make a full recovery over time. Covid-19 is a multisystem infection and may impact people in differing ways.

Specific guidance on the treatment of Long Covid is presently under development both here and internationally.

Longer-term observational studies will be required to understand the health consequences presently being attributed to post Covid-19 infection. There is currently a paucity of published research studies on Long COVID. Estimates of the prevalence of Long COVID vary widely (range 10% to 87.5%). The majority of studies have looked at the prevalence in patients discharged from hospital and the sample sizes in most studies are small.

I can advise the Deputy that the HSE as part of its work on post-Covid, is now looking at how it can model the possible numbers that will be affected, noting that this will take time as more evidence emerges.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the international literature about how many people experience prolonged symptoms so it is extremely difficult to determine the scale as yet in Ireland, however the HSE are monitoring the situation very closely and looking at how we can best estimate the scale, this will take some time and will need continual review.

I understand that the HSE has been in touch with and will be engaging with a group of people who are suffering post-Covid symptoms to inform understanding. Guidance is being developed to align needs with care provision and to develop criteria and strategies for the ongoing evaluation of patients.

The HSE is assessing need and the best way to care for those impacted by Long COVID. The Department of Health will continue to develop an understanding of the implications of Long Covid to inform policy as appropriate.

The Illness Benefit scheme does not fall under the remit of my Department, however information on the scheme and how to apply can be found at https://services.mywelfare.ie/en/topics/health-disability-illness/illness-benefit/

Hospital Appointments Status

Questions (196)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

196. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will be seen by a rheumatologist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30628/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Hospital Equipment

Questions (197)

Michael McNamara

Question:

197. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Health if a pass-through dishwasher, a ventilation system and stainless steel cupboards will be replaced as a matter of urgency for catering staff at a hospital (details supplied) in County Clare given that the cupboards in the kitchen area of the hospital are now falling apart due to water damage, which is obviously a health and safety issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30629/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Hospital Appointments Status

Questions (198)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

198. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health the status of an appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30648/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Health Services

Questions (199)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

199. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health the status of peri-menopausal services in the HSE including details of clinics available to support women in need of these services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30649/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Medical Aids and Appliances

Questions (200)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

200. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health the status of the introduction of the tandem insulin pump; if he will provide clarification on matters (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30650/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services.Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.

Mental Health Services

Questions (201)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

201. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health if the funding for psychiatric hours available in County Cork has been reduced by the HSE recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30651/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this Parliamentary Question relates to an operational issue, it is a matter for the HSE. However, members of the Oireachtas are advised that the HSE is currently unable to access the information to answer Parliamentary Questions due to the recent cyber-attack, which has required a temporary shut-down of HSE IT systems. The disruption to service is on-going, and the HSE is working hard to restore its IT capacity and resume normal services. Members of the Oireachtas will be advised as soon as the HSE is again in a position to provide responses to PQs and are encouraged to resubmit their Parliamentary Questions at that point.