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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 572-588

Hospital Appointments Status

Questions (572)

Denis Naughten

Question:

572. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health when a child (details supplied) will receive an appointment; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61247/21]

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.

Health Services

Question No. 574 answered with Question No. 560.

Questions (573)

Duncan Smith

Question:

573. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Health the amount of the health budget for 2022 he will be allocating to supporting the local drug and alcohol addiction prevention, stabilisation and detoxing work of local authorities homeless services; the way that this builds on previous funding received over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61250/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Programme for Government commits to addressing the health needs of people who are homeless. This includes the development of health and social interventions, based on an inclusion health approach, to target people who are homeless and in addiction.

The Department of Health and HSE are responsible for the delivery of a range of health services and supports to people who are homeless. The Dept provides funding of €36 million per annum to the HSE for health services and supports to people who are homeless. These include ‘in-reach’ service in emergency accommodation, case management and addiction and mental health supports.

Budget 2021 allocated an additional funding of €4m to address the addiction and mental health needs of people who are homeless, including:-

- the provision of health supports for new tenancies under the Housing First programme;

- the development and delivery of customised health care plans for single people living in emergency accommodation; and

- the provision of additional services for people who are homeless with complex health needs, including chronic mental health and inpatient treatment services.

In Budget 2022, an additional €1.3m was secured to provide health supports for an expansion of tenancies under the Housing First programme for people who are long-term homeless and to develop an integrated care and case management service for up to 4,000 single homeless people with complex health needs in Dublin.

Separately, €10m in Covid funding has been secured in 2022 to maintain public health measures for people who are homeless and to consolidate recent improvements in health services .

I am committed to providing dedicated funding and resources to deliver the health and addiction services required to assist the complex needs of people who are homeless.

Question No. 574 answered with Question No. 560.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (575, 741)

Emer Higgins

Question:

575. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health if he has considered the introduction of an exemption to the need for proof of vaccination to engage in various indoor activities, specifically for those who are medically unable to receive their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine due to a severe adverse reaction to their first dose; if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61255/21]

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Peter Burke

Question:

741. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health if an update can be provided regarding proposals to accommodate those who are medically deemed unfit to be vaccinated to be allowed partake in society; if he will consider exemptions on certified medical grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61856/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 575 and 741 together.

The current high level of COVID-19 infection and the dominance of the significantly more transmissible Delta variant poses a very substantial threat, particularly to those who are not fully protected through vaccination. In addition, the impact of the new Omicron variant is still unknown. Public health advice remains that those who are not fully vaccinated should avoid congregated indoor settings for their own and others safety.

The National Public Health Emergency Team gave some consideration to the issues arising for those people that cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons as part of its discussions on the 18th October 2021 on the continuing response to COVID-19 and the extension of Covid Pass arrangements. The matter is being given further consideration.

The Deputies may wish to be aware that on 15 July, NIAC made a recommendation, which was endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer and accepted by the Minister for Health that while the preference was for homologous vaccination regimens (using the same vaccine as part of a two dose regime) that selective use of heterologous vaccination schedules (two different vaccines used as part of two dose regime) should be permitted where a second vaccine dose of a homologous regimen is contraindicated, irrespective of whether the first dose was an mRNA or adenoviral vector vaccine. NIAC in conjunction with the RCPI and the Irish Association of Allergy and Immunology have prepared a guide to aid vaccinators and other healthcare workers on how to advise allergic individuals in respect of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, this guide is available here: rcpi-live-cdn.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/FAQs-about-COVID19-Vaccines-and-Allergies_12August2021.pdf.

Hospital Procedures

Questions (576)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

576. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of lung transplants and heart transplants carried out at the Mater Hospital in 2021. [61288/21]

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.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (577)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

577. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of capital funding requests submitted to the HSE from the Mater Hospital specifically to address the issue of bed capacity over the past three years; the amount requested; and the amount provided by the HSE. [61289/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Hospital Staff

Questions (578)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

578. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of whole-time equivalent consultant haematologists attached to Naas General Hospital in 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form. [61290/21]

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.

Health Services Staff

Questions (579)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

579. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of whole-time equivalent scan nurses in County Kildare in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form; and if this number will be further increased. [61291/21]

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.

Health Services Staff

Questions (580)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

580. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of whole-time equivalent paediatric neurosurgeons and paediatric neurologists working in the public health service in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form. [61292/21]

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.

Health Services

Questions (581)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

581. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health the number of children in County Wexford awaiting a first-time assessment for occupational therapy services; the breakdown of waiting time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61300/21]

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.

Health Services

Questions (582)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

582. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health the number of children in County Wexford awaiting physiotherapy services; the breakdown of waiting time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61301/21]

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.

Ambulance Service

Questions (583)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

583. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health the number of ambulance call-outs in 2021 to date in County Wexford; the average call out times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61302/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Regulatory Bodies

Question No. 585 answered with Question No. 584.

Questions (584, 585)

David Cullinane

Question:

584. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the average length of time taken to recognise health qualifications by CORU; the number of applications and the approval response time for the past 24 months in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61304/21]

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David Cullinane

Question:

585. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the steps he is taking in relation to the waiting lists for CORU; the steps he is taking to review the current CORU recognition process for approving UK registered healthcare professionals to have their credentials and work experience recognised for the purposes of joining the healthcare system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61305/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 584 and 585 together.

CORU is Ireland's multi-profession health regulator for regulating health and social care professionals.

CORU’s role is to protect the public by regulating the health and social care professions designated under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended), including setting the standards that health and social care professionals must meet to be eligible for registration and maintaining registers of persons who meet those standards There are two forms of application to CORU: applications for the recognition of qualifications received outside the State and applications for registration.

Professional qualifications awarded outside the State are assessed through a process of “recognition” which involves expert assessment of a qualification’s alignment with the standards of proficiency required in Ireland, and assessment of professional experience and lifelong learning where required. Where a health and social care professional qualifies outside the State and applies to register in Ireland, they must apply for the recognition of their qualification. EU/EEA applicants have the right to have their qualifications assessed in accordance with the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 and Directive 2005/36/EC on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications and the European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2017 (SI No 8 of 2017). Once a complete file has been submitted to CORU, i.e. one containing all of the required documentation, a decision must issue within four months.

CORU applies the processes available to EU/EEA applicants universally in the interests of equal treatment of all applicants. For this reason, there has been no change to the process for UK qualified applicants arising from the UK’s exit from the European Union.

CORU has provided a table with monthly figures for 2019 and 2020 for the recognition of qualifications by the relevant registration board. Timeframes are calculated from the month a complete and valid file is completed. This data is available for 2019 and 2020. Data for 2021 will be available in Q2 of 2022.

The month shown in the table is the month in which the complete file was submitted. The figures do not include decisions that are post appeal, i.e. those that require compensation measure completion or decisions within the European Professional Card (EPC) mechanism. EPC decisions have a shorter timeframe by definition.

Table: Average number of days from submission of a complete file to the Recognition Department to the making of a decision by the Registration Board on that application.

Month/Year

2019

2020

1

81.9

87.5

2

75.9

81.1

3

74.4

80.9

4

84.0

85.5

5

71.9

73.5

6

81.3

93.3

7

72.3

71.1

8

86.2

94.0

9

59.6

62.1

10

64.3

69.9

11

70.1

65.9

12

88.2

80.8

Number of decisions

631

635

In relation to timeframes for the registration of applicants, CORU has stated that the average processing time is currently 9.2 weeks for new applicants entering a profession. This represents an improvement on an average processing time of 14 weeks, which was the case during 2020.

I met with the Chairperson and CEO of CORU earlier this year and raised the issue of timeframes for the recognition of qualifications and registration applications. Following our discussion, several measures have been initiated by CORU aimed at further reducing timeframes.

Until this year applicants were required to complete the recognition process before initiating the registration process unless they had confirmed job offers. All applicants are now invited to initiate an application for registration as soon as they have submitted a complete application file to the recognition department. This will have the effect of reducing the period of time required to both complete the recognition and registration process.

This is part of a suite of innovations that have been initiated following my discussions with CORU. Further steps underway include:

- Continued reorganisation of work processes to respond to the evolving working from home context (this has changed over time requiring adjustments as the situation develops)

- Full transfer to an online application system

- Increased frequency of regulatory decision making (Registration Board meetings)

- Additional temporary staff resources

- Recruitment of additional expert assessors in ‘under pressure’ professions

My department will continue to support CORU in achieving its strategic vision and improving timeframes for all applicants into the future.

Question No. 585 answered with Question No. 584.

Dental Services

Questions (586)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

586. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Health when a report (details supplied) which was presented to the HSE in February 2015 regarding the public orthodontic service will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61314/21]

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.

Disability Services

Questions (587)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

587. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the prioritisation of persons with learning disabilities regarding access to day services in Buncrana, County Donegal; the criteria for this prioritisation; the person or body that decides the priority list; and the location in which it is published in order that service users and carers can read and understand the prioritisation of the service user. [61350/21]

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 (588)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

588. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health the requirements in relation to medical card holders that do not or cannot wear masks when attending general practitioner appointments given that mask wearing requirements are at the discretion of each individual doctor; the processes that are in place to ensure they can attend appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61352/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government recommends that face coverings should be worn in circumstances where 2 metres distance cannot be maintained. The HSE Guidance on Managing Risk of Transmission of Respiratory Viruses Including COVID-19 in General Practice sets out the measures to manage the risk transmission of Covid-19 in general practice, which includes encouraging patients entering the practice to use a face covering. However, refusal of service to those who decline to wear a mask is not recommended.

General practice has continued to operate during the Covid-19 public health emergency and GPs see patients face to face where necessary, albeit with infection-control measures in place. In response to the pandemic, it has been necessary for GPs to triage patient in-person contact with GP surgeries as much as possible, to help prevent the spread of the virus and for the protection of patients and staff. GPs are performing assessments over the phone to determine if a patient needs to attend the surgery. Where clinically indicated, the GP will arrange an appointment to see the patient in the surgery.

No directive has issued from either the Department of Health or the HSE on the requirements in relation to medical card holders that do not or cannot wear masks when attending general practitioner appointments. It is expected that clinical practice should be accessible to all patients, in line with normal risk assessment procedures.

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