Enterprise Support Services Provision

Ceisteanna (131)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

131. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the supports which are available for small start-up businesses in terms of financial supports, guidance and other supports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21583/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Department engages with relevant agencies/organisations to offer supports to businesses at all stages of their business cycle. In relation to accessing credit, the banks are, and will continue to be, the first port of call for finance for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). However, a number of Government initiatives have been introduced in order to ensure that SMEs obtain appropriate finance in order to sustain and grow their businesses. The Credit Guarantee Scheme which was first launched in 2012 has been designed to address three barriers to lending; inadequate collateral, novel business market, sector or technology which is perceived by finance providers as higher risk under current credit risk evaluation practices and/or a need for refinancing caused by the exit of an SMEs lender from the Irish market. More information on the scheme can be obtained at on the Departments website.

Businesses with up to 10 employees can make an application to Microfinance Ireland (MFI), which offers support in the form of loans of up to €25,000 to start-ups, newly established or growing businesses that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks. Further information on Microfinance Ireland is available at www.microfinanceireland.ie.

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own business. In the first instance, they provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant state supports available, offer advice and guidance in different areas, e.g. local authority rates, public procurement and other regulations affecting business. They can also offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (with 10 employees or fewer) which is subject to eligibility criteria.

Additionally, there is the Supporting SMEs website which contains over 100 possible supports (financial and non-financial) which may be available to a particular SME. Further information is available at https://www.supportingsmes.ie/BusinessDetails.aspx. Further information on possible business supports is available from https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/Which-support -is-for-you/ which includes a comprehensive spreadsheet mapping of supports. This a good first point of contact in order to establish the potential supports that may be available.

Enterprise Ireland Staff

Ceisteanna (132)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

132. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of the additional 18 staff to deal with Brexit that have been filled by Enterprise Ireland to date; the timeline for recruiting the full number; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21697/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Enterprise Ireland is working vigorously to enable companies to consolidate market share within the UK and also to become more resilient by broadening their sales to other international markets.

My Department provided additional resources in 2017 to enable EI to ramp up supports in light of Brexit to drive improvements in:

- productivity,

- competitiveness,

- innovation, and

- management capability and leadership skills.

Enterprise Ireland’s funding for 2017 included an additional €1.7 million to assist in the recruitment of 39 Brexit specific posts. A further €1.3m was provided in budget 2018 to enable EI to recruit approximately 18 additional staff this year.

To date, 5 staff have been recruited by the Agency this year to deal with Brexit and Enterprise Ireland are actively recruiting the remaining posts.

Industrial Relations

Ceisteanna (133)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

133. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if provision for legislative change or other measures necessary will be made to ensure that occupational pension issues can be heard for former employees using the State's industrial relations machinery such as the Labour Court. [21708/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

It is important to stress that the industrial relations system in Ireland is voluntary in nature as regards access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. Any change to that principle would alter fundamentally the conduct of industrial relations that has served us very well.

The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 introduced a provision to provide access to the industrial relations bodies in respect of former employees on an individual basis. This was facilitated by an amendment to Section 23 of the Industrial Relations Act 1990 which extended the scope of the definition of "worker" to include workers who have ceased employment.

The question of providing access to the State's industrial relations bodies by groups of pensioners was also considered in the context of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015. However, it was considered that it was more appropriate that collective concerns relating to pensions should more appropriately be addressed under pensions legislation.

It is the case that active members of pension schemes can and do regularly engage with employers in an attempt to reach an agreed position as regards changes in pension schemes. This may come about as a result of a crisis in the scheme or otherwise. The outcome of that engagement can only be a collective agreement which cannot, in and of itself, alter the pension schemes concerned. Proposed changes to schemes are given effect via the mechanisms set out in pension trust deeds and rules of schemes and are at the discretion of the parties designated in the rules/deeds of schemes. It is considered that it is within this framework that a collective approach would be most effective.

In terms of changes to pension schemes generally, the Trustees of a particular pension scheme are required by law to act in the best interests of all the members, be they active, deferred or pensioner members.

Responsibility for pensions legislation rests with my colleague, Regina Doherty TD, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and I understand that Section 50 of the Pensions Act 1990 was revised in 2015 to provide for the recognition by trustees and the Pensions Authority of groups representing the interests of retired and deferred scheme members of a particular pension scheme.

Medical Card Reviews

Ceisteanna (134)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

134. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health when a medical card review will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) that has provided documentary evidence from the Revenue Commissioners that they are tax compliant and correspondence from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection confirming their low income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21499/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Hospital Appointments Administration

Ceisteanna (135)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

135. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if an appointment for surgery for a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [21503/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Hospital Services

Ceisteanna (136)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

136. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 322 of 23 January 2018, when Louth County Hospital will begin seeing patients over five years of age at the minor injuries unit; if additional staff have been recruited to facilitate same; if there will be appropriate advertising to notify persons of such changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21533/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

RCSI Hospitals had originally estimated that by Q1 2018 paediatric patients over the age of five would be treated in Louth County Hospital’s minor injury unit, if they met the criteria of a minor injury. However, the RCSI has advised that due to unanticipated resignations, it has delayed the agreed start time. The RCSI has further advised that while the Louth Hospitals continue to endeavour to recruit the compliment of staff that is required to establish a safe level of service, they are not in a position to provide an updated time frame at this time.

In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

Tobacco Control Measures

Ceisteanna (137)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

137. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the research being conducted to test the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit smoking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21567/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Smoking is the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland, killing almost 6,000 people a year.

The primary objectives set out in the Tobacco Free Ireland (2013) policy document are to denormalise smoking and to protect children from the dangers of tobacco consumption. Tobacco Free Ireland sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free (i.e. with a prevalence rate of less than 5%) by 2025.

Tobacco Free Ireland contains a number of recommendations to assist smokers in quitting tobacco use. One of those recommendations is to examine the evidence regarding the outcomes of the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy ('NRT') and other approaches.

My Department requested HIQA to undertake a Health Technology Assessment ('HTA') of the clinical and cost effectiveness of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical smoking cessation products and services. The HTA was published in 2017 and found that all the pharmacological interventions were effective compared to no treatment and that a prescription only drug called varenicline was the most effective drug on its own. However, the HTA also found that using a combination of varenicline and NRT was the most effective pharmacological intervention and that people using this combination were over three and a half times more likely to quit than those who were in a control group and did not receive this treatment.

Group behavioural therapy, individual counselling, intensive advice and telephone support were all found to be effective behavioural interventions with group therapy found to be the most effective of these interventions. The addition of a behavioural intervention to a pharmacological intervention improved the effectiveness of the intervention.

The HTA recommended that smoking cessation services should seek to increase the uptake of varenicline, either alone or in combination with NRT, for smokers who want to use a pharmacological support.

In relation to e-cigarettes and vaping, although the HTA found that results for e-cigarettes are promising, there is currently a lack of evidence to recommend their use as a smoking cessation aid and at present no e-cigarette product is licensed as a medicinal product in Ireland. The safety of e-cigarettes is an evolving area of research; while potentially safer than smoking, evidence on its long-term safety has yet to be established. In the absence of additional evidence confirming the effectiveness of e-cigarettes, the HTA recommended that the HSE smoking cessation services should seek to increase the uptake of combination NRT treatment among those for whom varenicline is contraindicated, not tolerated or not preferred.

The results of the HTA are informing the development by the HSE, in conjunction with the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee, of national clinical guidelines.

Current evidence-based means of quitting include behavioural support and pharmacotherapies. The HSE provides and promotes these safe and evidence-based services, supports and aids to help people to quit. The HSE recommends that those wishing to give up smoking uses its cessation services as the first port of call.

My Department will continue to monitor the emerging research on all products, so as to inform decisions around any future additional regulation in this area.

Medicinal Products Licensing

Ceisteanna (138)

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

138. Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health the reason patients with multiple sclerosis have to wait an average of 348 days for a treatment drug to be approved for public funding and in some cases even longer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21569/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for medicine pricing and reimbursement decisions, in accordance with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013. As Minister for Health, I do not have any statutory power or function in relation to the reimbursement of medicines. The Act specifies the criteria for decisions on the reimbursement of medicines.

Under the 2013 Act, if a company would like a medicine to be reimbursed by the HSE in the community drug schemes, it must submit an application to the HSE to have the medicine added to the Reimbursement List.

As outlined in the 2016 Framework Agreement with industry, and in line with the 2013 Act, the HSE will decide, within 180 days of receiving the application (or a longer period if further information is sought from the company), to add the medicine to the reimbursement list, agree to reimburse it as a hospital medicine or refuse to reimburse it.

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).

The NCPE conducts health technology assessments for the HSE and makes recommendations on reimbursement to assist HSE decisions. The NCPE uses a decision framework to systematically assess whether a drug is cost-effective as a health intervention.

The HSE strives to reach a decision in as timely a manner as possible. However, because of the significant monies involved, it must ensure that the best price is achieved, as these commitments may be ongoing multi-million euro investments. Price discussions can lead to a protracted deliberation process.

I am keen to engage with industry and to explore ways in which new medicines might be more easily introduced in Ireland. However, any innovative approaches that may be tabled must be compatible with the statutory provisions in place and must also recognise fundamental pricing/funding issues, in the context of finite Exchequer resources.

Hospital Services

Ceisteanna (139)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

139. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health the position regarding blood tests in Drogheda and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital; if they have been outsourced; if this will lead to delays in obtaining results; if results will all be paper based; and his views on whether this will lead to a diminution in patient safety [21570/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Health Services Expenditure

Ceisteanna (140)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

140. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health the cost of running the health service in each of the years 2011 to 2017 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21580/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The budget for the health service for the years 2011 - 2017 is set out in the following table:

Year

Capital 

Current

Health Total

 

€m

€m

€m

2011

347

12,632

12,979

2012

350

12,568

12,918

2013

347

12,459

12,806

2014

382

12,695

13,077

2015

382

13,341

13,723

2016

414

13,695

14,109

2017

454

14,347

14,801

As the Deputy will appreciate, comparing health expenditure across countries is not a clear cut process, and there are a variety of ways of measuring health spend. In addition, in the case of Ireland, the health budget includes significant expenditure on personal social services, such as long term care for older people and people with disabilities, which are not a feature of other health systems such as the NHS.

It is, however clear to us all that we will need to make significant and sustainable investments and reforms across the health service if we are to meet the impending challenges of a growing and aging population.

The Sláintecare report provides for this. We want a health service that provides better and timelier access to health service, has better patient outcomes and also one that deliver value for money. To do this, there is a need for a fundamental change in how and where we deliver services.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (141)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

141. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health the cost of operating his Department in each of the years 2011 to 2017, excluding the HSE budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21581/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The following table sets out the costs for operating the Department of Health for the years 2011 to 2017:

Year

Operational Costs €m

2011

26.531

2012

27.265

2013

25.926

2014

25.345

2015

26.215

2016

27.314

2017

30.559

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (142)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

142. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health when all sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 will be enacted; the timeframe for full enactment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21596/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 has 12 Parts, containing a total of 180 sections. The commencement of the Act is the responsibility of a number of Departments including the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. As the responsibility of the Department of Health relates solely to the commencement of Parts 2 and 3 of the Act, I can only respond in respect of those two Parts.

A number of technical drafting issues have come to light in relation to Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. The implications of these issues are being explored by officials in my Department and the Office of the Attorney General, and as these discussions are ongoing, I do not wish to pre-empt the outcome by citing specific details. I would be happy to arrange a briefing for the Deputy on the substantive issues in due course.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (143)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

143. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health if his attention was drawn to memos (details supplied) in 2016 or 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21597/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

These memos were not brought to my attention until they were released last week.

Hospital Appointments Administration

Ceisteanna (144)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

144. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if an appointment for a person (details supplied) will be scheduled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21598/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (145)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

145. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health if memos (details supplied) were brought to the attention of his predecessor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21599/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

These memos were not brought to the attention of my predecessor until their release last week.

Hospital Appointments Administration

Ceisteanna (146)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

146. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if an appointment for a person (details supplied) will be scheduled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21602/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Disability Support Services Provision

Ceisteanna (147)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

147. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the status of a residential placement for a person (details supplied); when a place will be offered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21608/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Disabilities Data

Ceisteanna (148)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

148. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the number of persons with disabilities in Cork city and county on a waiting list with a HSE service provider (details supplied) for a residential placement; the timeframe these persons have been waiting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21609/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

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

Disabilities Data

Ceisteanna (149)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

149. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the number of persons with disabilities in Cork city and county on a waiting list with a HSE service provider (details supplied) for a residential placement; the timeframe these persons have been waiting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21610/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

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

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (150)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

150. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a copy of circular 1/91 issued by his Department (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21611/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Circular 1/1991 was issued to explain the changes in health services eligibility and in arrangements to public hospital services which were announced in the Programme for Economic & Social Progress which was published in January 1991. These changes, which were underpinned by the Health (Amendment) Act 1991, took effect from 1 June 1991. A copy of the requested Circular has been e-mailed directly to the Deputy.