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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 538-554

Hospital Waiting Lists

Question No. 539 answered with Question No. 538.

Question No. 540 answered with Question No. 538.

Question No. 541 answered with Question No. 538.

Questions (538, 539, 540, 541)

Pauline Tully

Question:

538. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the number of children awaiting a consultation with a paediatric urologist at Temple Street Hospital; the number waiting up to 6, 6 to 12, 12 and 24 and more than 24 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61146/21]

View answer

Pauline Tully

Question:

539. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the average waiting time for a consultation with a paediatric urologist at Temple Street Hospital in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021; the plans he has to reduce the waiting time for a consultation with a paediatric urologist at the hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61147/21]

View answer

Pauline Tully

Question:

540. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the number of children awaiting a paediatric urology procedure at Temple Street Hospital; the number waiting up to 6, 6 to 12, 12 and 24 and more than 24 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61148/21]

View answer

Pauline Tully

Question:

541. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the average waiting time for a paediatric urology procedure at Temple Street Hospital in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021; the plans he has to reduce the waiting time for procedures at the hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61149/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 538 to 541, inclusive, together.

It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While significant progress was made in reducing waiting times from June 2020 onwards, the surge in Covid-19 cases in the first quarter of 2021 and the associated curtailment of acute hospital services, coupled with the ransomware attack of May 2021, has impacted waiting times.

On the 7th October I published the Acute Waiting List Action Plan. This plan, to run until December 2021, has a series of targeted measures that are designed to address the growth in waiting lists caused by Covid-19 and the cyber-attack.

In addition, my Department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) are also working on a Multi Annual Waiting List Plan to bring waiting lists in line with Sláintecare targets over the coming years. This process will be overseen by a Ministerial Taskforce, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department and includes representatives from the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund.

For 2022 an additional allocation of €250 million, comprised of €200 million to the HSE and €50 million to the National Treatment Purchase Fund has been provided in respect of work to reduce hospital and community waiting lists. The €250 million will be used to fund additional activity in both the public and private sectors. The €50 million additional funding provided to the NTPF brings its total allocation for 2022 to €150 million, and as a consequence there will be a budget of €350 million available to support vital initiatives to improve access to acute hospitals and community health services.

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the attached documents. This information shows the number of children on the IPDC & OPD paediatric urology waiting lists at Temple Street Hospital, in the requested time-bands. In regard to the requested average wait times for paediatric urology at Temple Street Hospital, the health system does not collect the data necessary to calculate average wait times. In particular, the time to treatment of patients who have already received their care is not collected. The NTPF collects data on patients currently on the waiting list and the average time that these patients have been waiting is provided here.

Total Waiters for an Outpatient Paediatric Urology Appointment in CHI at Temple Street by Wait Time Band as at 25/11/2021

Sum of Total

Column Labels

Row Labels

0-6 Months

6-12 Months

12-24 Months

24 Months +

Grand Total

CHI at Temple St

Paediatric Urology

138

88

156

218

600

Average and Median Wait Time for an OP Paediatric Urology Appointment in CHI at Temple St 2019-2021

Date

Average Wait Time (Days)

Median (Days)

Dec-19

393

381

Dec-20

506

464.5

Nov-21

569

581

Average and Median Wait Time for an IPDC Paediatric Urology Procedure in CHI at Temple St 2019-2021

Date

Average Wait Time (Days)

Median (Days)

Dec-19

216

160

Dec-20

318

308.5

Nov-21

416

371

Total IPDC Waiters for a Paediatric Urology Procedure in CHI at Temple Street by Wait Time Band as at 25/11/2021

Sum of Total

Column Labels

Row Labels

0-6 Months

6-12 Months

12-24 Months

24 Months +

Grand Total

CHI at Temple St

Paediatric Urology

48

22

43

30

143

Question No. 539 answered with Question No. 538.
Question No. 540 answered with Question No. 538.
Question No. 541 answered with Question No. 538.

Hospital Staff

Questions (542)

Pauline Tully

Question:

542. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Health the number of consultant paediatric urologists at Temple Street Hospital in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61150/21]

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.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (543)

Alan Dillon

Question:

543. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health when he will publish the HSE capital programme for 2022; and the projects, including timelines for start and completion dates, in tabular form. [61157/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Thank you for question and allowing me to provide an update on the matter.

The Capital Plan for 2021 was published in August this year and the capital planning process for 2022 and beyond is currently underway.

The Capital Plan will determine the projects that can progress in 2022 and beyond having regard to factors including the available capital funding, the number of capital projects currently underway, the cashflow requirements attaching to each project and consideration of prioritisation.

The Capital Plan 2022 has been submitted to me with the National Service Plan 2022 and is currently subject to review and thereafter publication.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (544)

Alan Dillon

Question:

544. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health the regularity with which he meets the HSE capital projects and estate team to review capital development proposals that progress through a number of approval stages in line with the public spending code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61158/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Health capital investment decisions are informed by Programme for Government priorities, sectoral policies, strategies, and reform initiatives as set out in Sláintecare. I and my Department engage with the Health Services Executive (HSE) in planning for and delivery of capital projects in the health sector as projects progress through the approval stages of the Public Spending Code.

The HSE is responsible for the planning and delivery of health services and management of healthcare infrastructure. Each year the HSE must develop a Capital Plan upon receipt of notification of annual allocations set in the budget and priorities set out in the Letter of Determination. These plans are then submitted for my review and approval. I meet with the HSE as required to complete this work.

As part of the ongoing performance management in plans and oversight of delivery of projects through the approval stages of the Public Spending Code, my Department meet with the HSE on a monthly basis or additionally as required, to discuss projects, progress and any arising issues. Any issues to be addressed are raised in line with the overall performance management and oversight processes in place. Meetings and engagements with the HSE are undertaken by me as required in this work.

Mental Health Services

Questions (545)

Alan Dillon

Question:

545. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health the status of the implementation of the recommendations of the national youth mental health task force, in particular the youth mental health pathfinder project; if a pathfinder team is now in place; if so, the progress to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61159/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The proposal to establish a cross-governmental youth mental health Pathfinder unit, with participation from the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, received Ministerial approval during the previous Government. Its establishment is a priority in the current Programme for Government.

The proposal is to formalise a new model for collaborative working within Government and place a Pathfinder unit on a statutory footing, through section 12 of the Public Service Management Act 1997. This section has not been used before.

Various administrative, budgetary, governance and legal arrangements need to be developed and agreed with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to ensure a robust and workable model for the Pathfinder unit. The demands on both Departments during the pandemic have presented challenges to progressing the proposals. Nonetheless, the Department of Health has continued to engage with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to develop an implementation option that fully addresses these issues.

Officials from the Department of Health last met with officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on 8 July to discuss improving proposals for governance and legal arrangements. Since then, the Department of Health has worked with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel on the proposals for governance and legal arrangements. On 6 December these draft proposals were circulated to the Department of Education and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Once agreed, these will be submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Recommendations from the National Youth Mental Health Task Force Report to build an evidence base to inform the development of youth mental health policy and service delivery, and to develop policy to give effect to youth mental health priorities and objectives, will be taken on by the new unit subject to agreement on the proposals. The report’s other recommendations were incorporated into the service plans of lead agencies over the three year lifespan of the report, which concluded in December 2020. Implementation of recommendations includes: several online support projects were delivered to support online counselling, online CBT training and online signposting; schools have upskilled staff in mental health training and many disciplines have availed of mental health first aid training; early intervention projects such as perinatal training and family support projects have launched; and provision has been made in the forthcoming Mental Health (Amendment) Bill for 16- and 17-year olds to refuse or consent to their own mental health treatment.

The implementation of the Pathfinder project is a priority for me and I will continue to keep this matter under close review in the context of progressing Sharing the Vision.

Health Service Executive

Questions (546)

Alan Dillon

Question:

546. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health the number of HSE grade and type of professionals working in the HSE capital and estates division, by community healthcare organisation, CHO, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61160/21]

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.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (547)

Alan Dillon

Question:

547. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health the extent to which the HSE capital and estates division engage with external design consultancy companies on the delivery of capital projects compared with internal inhouse design reviews; the level of HSE expenditure in the past three years on external service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61161/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this question relates to engagement by the Health Service Executive, I have asked the HSE to directly respond to the Deputy on this matter.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (548)

Alan Dillon

Question:

548. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health if he has considered public private partnerships to deliver on the HSE capital programme commitment to help address the existing infrastructural deficits with regard to clinical, HIQA and building standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61162/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Projects in the HSE capital programme are progressed in line with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and in Public Private Partnership Projects, in line with Guidelines for the Use of Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Whilst the majority of projects will be progressed using direct Exchequer funding, alternative procurement options such as use of PPP continue to be an option. In development of business cases for projects and programmes, as part of the business case consideration is given to the most appropriate procurement mechanism.

If a PPP approach is being considered, a PPP procurement assessment must be carried out involving consideration of factors such as if the project is of sufficient scale and risk/operational profile to justify a PPP approach, and to carry the high transactions costs that will be involved. This consideration involves review from my Department, the HSE and engagement with other parties including the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA).

Officials from my Department and the HSE sit on the inter-Departmental PPP Steering Committee, chaired by the DPER, which monitors and oversees progress on the current (and future) pipeline of PPP projects.

A PPP has already been used to the deliver 14 Primary Care Centres. A PPP to deliver 7 Community Nursing Units (CNU) is currently progressing and is at procurement phase.

Dental Services

Questions (549)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

549. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which dental patients can have their requirements met and progressed as quickly as possible with particular reference to medical card holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61167/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides dental care, free of charge to medical card holders aged 16 and over. These services are provided by independent dental practitioners who have a contract with the HSE. I am committed to ensuring the sustainability of the DTSS, but recognise that it needs to be aligned with the best international evidence and practice, as outlined in Smile agus Sláinte, the National Oral Health Policy (2019). The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the roll-out of the National Oral Health Policy to be delayed, and the proposed review of the DTSS contract to be deferred.

Officials in my Department and in the HSE have engaged with the Irish Dental Association with a view to addressing issues around the provision of services to medical card holders and that process of engagement is continuing. Additional funding of €10 million has been provided in Budget 2022, on top of a provision of €56 million for the Existing Level of Services.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (550)

Thomas Gould

Question:

550. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health if persons who have completed a level 6 vaccination course through a company (details supplied) can apply as vaccinators; if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61168/21]

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.

Dental Services

Questions (551)

Pat Buckley

Question:

551. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Health the urgent assistance his Department can provide in the early intervention of orthodontics services for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61171/21]

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.

Departmental Reviews

Questions (552)

David Cullinane

Question:

552. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the unit or person who will have ownership of the implementation of the national cardiac services review when it is published; the lead responsible for cardiovascular policy; the way in which, aside from the HSE national heart programme, the recommendations will be advanced, monitored and evaluated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61172/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Review of Specialist Cardiac Services commenced in January 2018 under the Chairmanship of Professor Phillip Nolan and a Steering Group formed from nominations of interested stakeholders representing medical, professional/technical staff, nursing and patient representatives.

The aim of the Cardiac Services Review is to achieve optimal patient outcomes at population level with particular emphasis on the safety, quality and sustainability of the services that patients receive by establishing the need for an optimal configuration of a national adult cardiac service. This aligns with the Sláintecare reform programme. In terms of scope, the National Review covers scheduled and unscheduled hospital-based services for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiac disease in adults.

Substantial progress has been made on the National Review of Specialist Cardiac Services. The COVID-19 Pandemic impacted on the progress of the review during 2020 and into 2021 as the Chair of the National Review has played a key role in the national COVID-19 response as a member of the NPHET and Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group. However, the Cardiac Services Review is now making progress again, and the Steering Group reconvened in September 2021 with a view to finalisation of the Report.

The Steering Group is currently working on the development of the proposed recommendations of the draft Report. The implementation process for the National Cardiac Services Review is also being developed as part of the process to finalise the Report.

Covid-19 Tests

Questions (553)

Marian Harkin

Question:

553. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health if he will clarify an issue in regard to Covid-19 tests for travel into Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61173/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The requirements for travel are kept under regular review based on the evolving international epidemiological situation. At present, and as part of our response to the emergence of the Omicron variant, passengers travelling to Ireland require a valid test result (subject to limited exemptions). Full details on international travel policy and the types of tests accepted are published at www.gov.ie/travel.

From 5 December, a traveller with a valid recovery cert can show either:

- A negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours prior to arrival

- Or a negative antigen test result taken within 48 hours prior to arrival.

It is understood that some travellers may not be able to present evidence of a negative/not-detected RT-PCR test prior to travel due to persistently positive RT-PCR test after recovery. In these circumstances the person can present a positive RT-PCR result dated more than 11 days and less than 180 days prior to the date on which they arrive in the State. From 5 December, such individuals are required to present a negative antigen test result taken within 48 hours prior to arrival.

Covid-19 Tests

Questions (554)

Imelda Munster

Question:

554. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Health his plans for the provision of antigen tests for the early childhood care and education sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61176/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I understand that colleagues in the HSE are supporting the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, as they explore how antigen testing may be utilised further in early childcare settings.

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

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