Care of the Elderly

Ceisteanna (49)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

49. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health if additional funding for the care of older persons has been provided in 2012; if he intends such funding to be increased year on year between now and 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48934/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE Service Plan 2012 provided in the region of €1.4 billion overall for Services for Older People. This includes Long Term Residential Care, Home Care Supports, Day or Respite Care and Health Promotion.

The position in relation to 2013, or beyond, is subject to the annual Estimates process in the light of evolving resources and services priorities for the health sector overall.

Hospitals Building Programme

Ceisteanna (50)

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

50. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Health if he will be seeking sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to the Elm Park development to enable co-location with St. Vincent's University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48740/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The 2008 KPMG Independent Review of Maternity and Gynaecology Services in the Greater Dublin Area Report recommended that the Dublin maternity hospitals should be located alongside adult acute services. Co-location of maternity hospitals with adult acute services is the optimal solution for the provision of hospital-based maternity services, as it can provide access to the full range of medical and surgical specialties and clinical support services in sufficient volume and complexity to provide added value. This is particularly important for high-risk mothers and babies. Therefore it is proposed that the maternity hospitals should be relocated alongside adult acute services. In this context the National Maternity Hospital is to be relocated to St Vincent's.

This project cannot be dealt with in isolation and must be considered in the context of the HSE multi-annual capital programme. The HSE is required to prioritise capital infrastructure projects within its overall capital funding allocation taking into account the existing capital commitments and costs to completion over the period. Work on the draft Capital Plan for the next multi-annual period 2013-2017 will begin shortly and will be submitted to my Department in due course. My Department will then review the proposals and follow up where further details may be required. The draft Capital Plan 2013-2017 will require my approval with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Energy Conservation

Ceisteanna (51)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

51. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health in view of the Health Service Executive budget overrun and consequent cuts in essential services, his views on whether the energy costs across the health sector, estimated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland at €80 million a year at least, should be reduced by up to 20% on an urgent basis; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that existing voluntary projects show the potential for such savings by implementing targeted and low-cost energy efficiency programmes; the measures he and the HSE are taking to ensure that such savings are made within the next two years instead of unnecessary cutbacks to essential services and thus make these cuts that do not hurt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48980/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE was one of the first bodies to join the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Public Sector Partnership Programme and is actively working with SEAI in developing various energy efficiency improvement programmes. Some of these programmes have featured in the recently published - Energy Use in the Public Sector. The HSE is committed to achieving savings through improved processes used in its energy procurement, including the use of best practice and expert opinion when procuring energy.

Health Insurance Company Payments

Ceisteanna (52)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

52. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the amount in total that is owed to individual hospitals here and the Health Service Executive from private health insurers since 2009; his views on when this money will be paid in full to the hospitals and the HSE by the health insurers; the mechanism being used to recoup these outstanding charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48747/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The amount of money outstanding in private insurance income at the 31st July 2012 is €216m, of which €125m is due to statutory hospitals and €91m to voluntary hospitals.

The HSE and Voluntary hospitals, recoup a considerable amount of income from private insurance companies in return for private and semi-private treatment services provided to patients with private health insurance cover. Lengthy delays can occur between the discharge of patients and the receipt of payment from the health insurance companies. I have emphasised to the HSE the importance of addressing this problem, in conjunction with the insurers, so that the maximum resources possible are available to the health system.

The HSE has introduced a number of initiatives to improve the claims collection process and facilitate faster submission of claims which will accelerate income collection within the public hospital system. In particular:

- The HSE has tasked hospitals with bringing down the value of claims awaiting Consultant action and hospitals will also target the highest-value claims.

- The proposals agreed by health service employers and the two consultant representative bodies at the Labour Relations Commission included a commitment on the part of all consultants to expeditious processing and signing of claims for submission to private health insurers. Consultants will be required to fully complete and sign private insurance forms within 14 days of receipt of all the relevant documentation and to co-operate with the secondary Consultant scheme whereby a secondary Consultant involved in a case can sign the claim form if the primary consultant has not signed within a reasonable timeframe. They will also be required to support the implementation of electronic claim preparation. Health service management is now proceeding with implementation of this and other measures, having regard to the relevant provisions in the Public Sector Agreement.

- The HSE has also awarded the contract for the roll-out of an electronic claims management system in eleven HSE sites. The system is currently operational in 6 HSE sites and a further 3 sites are expected to be operational by mid-November. This system will address the deficiencies of the current paper based process, will streamline the claims collection process and will also ensure that standardised work practices are implemented across hospitals.

Furthermore, my Department has agreed, in principle, a system of improved cash flow and accelerated payment with private health insurers. This will provide a once-off cash flow benefit in 2012 in the order of €125m. The accelerated payment arrangements are at an advanced stage with the detail of the legal agreements between the HSE and Insurers expected to be finalised very shortly.

Care of the Elderly

Ceisteanna (53)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

53. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health the reasons that from 12 November 2012 services for older people respite service for the south Louth area will be removed from the Cottage Hospital in Drogheda and instead provided in a private nursing home, Moorehall Lodge, despite the fact that a consultation process on the future of the Cottage Hospital is still ongoing; if he will ensure the return of these respite services to the Cottage Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48977/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Services for People with Disabilities

Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 18.

Ceisteanna (54)

Michael Colreavy

Ceist:

54. Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Health his response to the appeal by nine leading disability organisations issued on 17 September 2012 calling on him to halt cuts to funding for services for persons with disabilities [48969/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Pending completion of the national estimates, budgetary and service planning process for 2013 it is not possible to predict the service levels to be provided next year.

Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 18.

Hospital Consultants Remuneration

Ceisteanna (56, 62)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

56. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the Health Service Executive negotiations with representatives of hospital consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48971/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seamus Kirk

Ceist:

62. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Health the latest developments regarding hospital consultants' working practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48943/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 62 together.

The measures agreed between health service management and the consultant representative bodies at the Labour Relations Commission in September will allow for very significant reforms in how services are delivered and will ultimately lead to improved outcomes for users of the services. The agreement encompasses a range of flexibilities centred on enhancing productivity and efficiency on an ongoing basis and on maximising the availability of consultants, as key clinical decision-makers. Health service managers are proceeding with implementation of these measures as appropriate to each site and service, with effect from 5 November, in line with the procedures provided for in the Public Service Agreement.

On 6 November, the Labour Court issued its recommendations in relation to three matters which had been referred to it. These concern consultants' current "rest day" arrangements, the fee to consultant psychiatrists for giving a second opinion under the Mental Health Act 2001 and the issue of "historic rest days". Health service management will be taking the necessary steps over the coming weeks to give effect to the Court's recommendations.

I look forward to all consultants embracing the changes agreed at the LRC and complying with the terms of the Labour Court recommendations, in the interests of providing the most appropriate and cost-effective services to patients.

Care of the Elderly

Ceisteanna (57)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

57. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the action he will take on foot of the recent NESC report Quality and Standards in Human Services in Ireland: Home Care for Older People; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48935/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

New statutory regulation of this sector will have to take account of various issues, such as those raised in recent reports of the Law Reform Commission.

Primary legislation and additional resources will be required to introduce statutory regulation for home care services, including for the private sector. The question of possible legislative changes, including regulation and inspection for relevant services, is under consideration in the overall context of licensing Health Care providers. Various options are being examined at present, including the complex legal issues involved, and the need to prioritise legislation across the wider Social Care area, such as that relating to Children or Disabilities.

I wish to stress that statutory regulation is only one way of improving the safety and quality of existing HSE services, and that other operational measures as reflected in the HSE Service Plan 2012 have or are being taken to improve home care services for older people delivered by, or on behalf of, the Executive.

The recent report by NESC is a valuable contribution to our on-going development of policies and services for older people, and it is in that context being examined in detail by the Department.

HSE Properties

Ceisteanna (58)

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

58. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health if he will advise on all enquiries made or consideration being given to the disposal or sale, either in full or in part, of St. Raphael's Centre in Youghal, including the associated buildings and lands; the status now of any of the above; if he will give any details of his Departments or the Health Service Executive proposals or plans regarding the sale in full or in part of the said entity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48956/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Care of the Elderly

Ceisteanna (59)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

59. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health his response to a recent report which states that every day over the next ten years, an additional seven older persons in the State will require long-term residential care or home help; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48941/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Report entitled Towards the Development of a Predictive Model of Long-Term Care Demand for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was launched on 25 October last.

The report is a welcome contribution on how we as a society might meet the changing requirements of older people across all of Ireland in future years. The various issues raised in the report are broadly familiar to the Department of Health. The Report is at present being considered in detail by the Department in the context of developing policies and services for older people, as agreed under the Programme for National Recovery 2011-16.

Alcohol Sales Legislation

Ceisteanna (60)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

60. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health the intentions he has regarding the report of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48954/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The report of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group is a roadmap for the future direction of policy to deal with the use and misuse of alcohol. The report made a range of recommendations on the supply, availability and marketing of alcohol; it also recommended measures on minimum unit pricing to target at risk drinkers and includes measures on prevention strategies, treatment and rehabilitation as well as substance dependency research and information. Taken together, these policy measures will tackle the harms of alcohol misuse in our society.

My Department is in the final stages of preparing a concrete set of proposals on the basis of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group report; and following consideration by the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy, the intention is to submit these to Government for consideration and approval as soon as possible.

Health Services Reform

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 56.

Ceisteanna (61)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

61. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health if it is the case that the Health Service Executive has taken the decision to outsource central payroll operations and its support system infrastructure; the number of staff currently working in this area broken down by HSE region; the savings expected to be made by such a move; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48967/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

One of the key commitments in the Public Service Reform Plan is to identify and evaluate new business models and opportunities to support the delivery of non-core processes and services. External Service Delivery is an area that can potentially deliver a range of benefits for the provision of health services. These include both cost and efficiency savings stemming from better work and management practices. The Health Sector, along with Education, Justice and Local Government Sectors, are required to prepare and implement detailed benefits-driven external service delivery plans. This plan is currently being prepared by my Department in conjunction with the HSE.

The option of external delivery of the HSE payroll is currently being explored. The particular operational issues raised by the Deputy have been forwarded to the HSE for direct response.

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 56.