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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 743-760

Hospital Staff

Questions (743)

Ivana Bacik

Question:

743. Deputy Ivana Bacik asked the Minister for Health the estimated cost of recruiting nine additional full-time ICU nurses for Children’s Health Ireland, Temple Street. [61870/21]

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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.

Health Services

Questions (744)

Ivana Bacik

Question:

744. Deputy Ivana Bacik asked the Minister for Health the annual spend in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021 on maternal mental health services at all stages of pregnancy and postnatal care; the allocation of resources and future plans for same.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61871/21]

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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.

Hospital Staff

Questions (745)

Ivana Bacik

Question:

745. Deputy Ivana Bacik asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a campaign by an organisation (details supplied) which is seeking 100 additional neurology nurse specialists across Ireland, including 17 extra nurses for St. Vincent’s University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61873/21]

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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.

Health Services

Question No. 747 answered with Question No. 739.

Questions (746)

Robert Troy

Question:

746. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if occupational services will engage with a person (details supplied). [61916/21]

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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.

Question No. 747 answered with Question No. 739.

Hospital Services

Questions (748)

Robert Troy

Question:

748. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he will take steps to ensure essential treatment is expedited for a person (details supplied). [61924/21]

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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.

Health Services

Questions (749)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

749. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health when funding will be allocated for the health centre in Inis Meáin, Aran Islands, County Galway given the dilapidated state of the health centre including the storeroom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61928/21]

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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.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (750)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

750. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the length of time a person (details supplied) will be waiting for a long-term stay bed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61930/21]

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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.

Health Services

Question No. 752 answered with Question No. 639.

Questions (751)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

751. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) is unable to get an appointment for their child to see a dietician; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61935/21]

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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.

Question No. 752 answered with Question No. 639.

Health Services Staff

Questions (753)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

753. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the number of ophthalmologists contracted by the HSE to deliver primary care services for children in County Louth in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021, by location; if no ophthalmologists will be available in Drogheda primary care in the coming weeks given that the existing ophthalmologist is leaving the post and no replacement has been secured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61972/21]

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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.

Nursing Homes

Questions (754)

Emer Higgins

Question:

754. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health his plans to amend the nursing home support scheme to exempt rental income from a principal private residence when calculating the income of an applicant. [61973/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Act 2021, which was signed into law on 22 July, introduced further safeguards into the NHSS to further protect the viability and sustainability of family farms and businesses. It also includes an amendment in relation to applying the 3-year cap to the proceeds of sale of a house while a resident is in long-term care. This addresses the first relevant commitment in the Housing for All Strategy (action 19.7). This removed a disincentive against the sale of properties that might otherwise remain vacant.

As well as introducing the change above, the Department of Health has also agreed to action 19.8 in the Housing for All Strategy to develop a mechanism in relation to the rental of vacant properties "in a way that is targeted, equitable, evidence-based and provides appropriate safeguards for vulnerable older people". It is important to note that complex policy questions remain in meeting these criteria and there are high risks associated with unintended consequences.

The NHSS is a complex €1.4 billion Scheme that relies on €350m of contributions from over 22,000 residents. It is important to ensure that the costs, benefits, and unintended consequences of any policy changes are fully understood and resolved before they are put in place. There is no existing exemption of rental or similar income from assessment within the Nursing Homes Support Scheme and due care needs to be taken to ensure that any future changes are appropriate; to protect and meet the needs of residents while also making provision for those in need of housing.

The Department of Health and other government departments continue to collaborate on this policy, including the identification of the number of houses that may be brought into use and the costs associated with the policy options available to address this action, with a view to introducing legislation as soon as possible once this analysis and policy development is complete.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Question No. 756 answered with Question No. 589.

Questions (755)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

755. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if a risk assessment has been carried out for children aged between 9 to 12 years of age and the effect mask wearing may have on their well-being; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61998/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government, at its meeting on 30 November, agreed that face masks/coverings be recommended for those aged 9 and over on public transport, in retail and other indoor public settings as currently required for those aged 13 and over, with exemptions as appropriate. Face masks/coverings are also recommended for children in third class and above in primary school and guidance has issued to schools from the Department of Education on this. This guidance can be found online: www.gov.ie/en/publication/d3c55-department-of-education-guidance-on-the-use-of-face-coverings-in-primary-schools/.

It should be noted that this is a temporary, interim measure and will be reviewed in mid-February 2022. The continued importance of other public health measures will continue to be emphasised.

The Government decision is based on a recommendation from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). The NPHET, at its meeting on 25 November, considered the question of reducing the age at which mask wearing is recommended. This issue has been subject to ongoing review by the NPHET. NPHET consideration has been informed by a number of evidence reviews and advice provided to NPHET by HIQA at NPHET’s request since February 2021, informed by research evidence developed by HIQA’s COVID-19 Evidence Synthesis Team and with expert input from HIQA’s COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group (EAG).

The most recent review by HIQA in August 2021 recommended that the minimum age for mask wearing should remain unchanged, however ongoing monitoring was advised with respect to the epidemiological situation in children.

In light of the sharp rise in the incidence in the 9 to 11 year old age-group in recent weeks the issue was therefore considered again by the NPHET. As part of its deliberations, the NPHET considered previous advice from HIQA, the detailed epidemiological situation in children, international guidance, international practice, the evidence in relation to the use of face coverings in children, and the potential benefits and harms from any recommendations. The NPHET recognised the very significant impacts previous social and economic restrictions have had on families and children to date and also reiterated that a core priority of the NPHET throughout the pandemic has been to protect the continued operation of the education and childcare sector, recognising its importance to the health and development of children. Given the very high incidence in children the NPHET advised that measures should be taken to interrupt chains of transmission to protect those core priorities. For that reason, the NPHET agreed advice, including the recommendation in relation to mask wearing, to support families and young children in staying safe over the coming period with a view to reducing risk of disease transmission.

HIQA’s advice on ‘Reducing the minimum age for mask wearing requirements and recommendations in COVID-19’ can be found online: www.hiqa.ie/reports-and-publications/health-technology-assessment/reducing-minimum-age-mask-wearing.

Question No. 756 answered with Question No. 589.

Hospital Services

Questions (757)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

757. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to securing radiology services in Clonakilty or Bandon, County Cork to help alleviate the pressure from hospitals in Cork city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62007/21]

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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.

Agriculture Industry

Questions (758)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

758. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason his officials have not followed up on their commitment to meet with a farmer (details supplied) with regard to the forced closure of their industry as they had committed to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61121/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My officials have, at all times, ensured that the person named and indeed all the mink farmers have been briefed and kept up to date on all aspects regarding the cessation of mink farming. Since the last meeting on 15th October 2021, two letters have been issued to the fur farmers and their representatives on 10th and 29th November 2021. In the intervening period, my officials have also been in contact by phone and email.

It is the intention to meet with the mink farmers again when the Regulations are further advanced.

Agriculture Industry

Questions (759)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

759. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason he has not replied to correspondence from a farmer (detailed supplied) which is of the most serious nature on concerns regarding the forced closure of their business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61123/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The correspondence referred to was received by my office on 18th November and it was acknowledged. All requests for meetings are considered and when a feasible date to hold a meeting is identified this is offered to the requesters.

The current Programme for Government contains a commitment to prohibit fur farming in Ireland and Department officials have been working on appropriate steps to give effect to this. A series of meetings with the fur farm operators and their representatives have been held in this regard. There has also been on-going correspondence and dialogue between the two parties

This particular correspondence is being given detailed attention and will receive a reply shortly.

Agriculture Industry

Questions (760)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

760. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason his officials are refusing to review the statutory redundancy being offered to staff affected by the closure of the mink farming industry in Ireland despite his own commitment at the Oireachtas Committee hearing on 15 July 2021 to do so; if his officials will be instructed as a matter of urgency to examine what a more appropriate package of redundancy would be; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61124/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Animal Health and Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021 that is currently going through the legislative process, will provide for the statutory prohibition of fur farming.

The legislation will make provision for a scheme of compensation for the three farm businesses affected by the prohibition.

Regulations that are being prepared alongside the primary legislation will provide further detail on the compensation provisions. The details of the overall compensation package is receiving detailed attention in my Department.

The farm businesses are to be compensated for certain losses they will experience as part of the prohibition. Compensation for statutory redundancy payments, paid to workers made redundant as a result of the prohibition, is one of the loss categories. Various entitlements for employees are set out in legislation (Redundancy Payments Act 1967) and employees must follow specific redundancy procedures in that regard. Redundancy payments are to be made available by employers when employment is terminated which may be the case when fur farming is prohibited.

The rates and conditions of these payments are defined in the Redundancy legislation and applies to businesses where employment is being terminated. The compensation package that is to be made available to the farm businesses will cover any statutory redundancy payments made but is only one aspect of the compensation to the business owners.

Statutory redundancy payments are the minimum workers are eligible for and will be included in this overall package - the businesses concerned may make increased payments as they consider appropriate.

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