Home Care Packages Provision

Ceisteanna (165)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

165. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if a homecare package will be reviewed in the case of a person (details supplied); the reason one carer has been dropped from house calls to the person who needs two carers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3486/19]

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 as soon as possible.

Alcohol Pricing

Ceisteanna (166)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

166. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health if he gave a commitment that minimum unit pricing of alcohol would not be introduced here until it was also being introduced in Northern Ireland with regard to concerns being expressed by an association (details supplied) regarding the minimum unit pricing for alcohol; if his attention has been drawn to the damage the introduction of this new system in one jurisdiction here and not the other would do to thousands of small off-licence businesses in the Border region; his plans in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3488/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The objective of Minimum Unit Pricing is to ensure that strong alcohol can no longer be sold at low prices and, in particular, to prevent it being sold at pocket money prices in order to protect our children.

The 2013 Government Decision which approved the drafting of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill envisaged that Minimum Unit Pricing would be implemented simultaneously in Northern Ireland. The situation has changed owing to the suspended administration in Northern Ireland and on that basis it is my intention to seek a revised Government Decision to implement Minimum Unit Pricing in this jurisdiction only in order to address the health harms and costs associated with the availability of cheap strong alcohol.

Medical Aids and Appliances Applications

Ceisteanna (167)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

167. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the funding options available to persons who wish to purchase an electric wheelchair. [3497/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Ceisteanna (168)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

168. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that residents of private nursing homes who continue to hold full general medical services cards do not in practice have the same eligibility as other persons who live in the community in matters (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3499/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost.

The NHSS covers the cost of the standard components of long-term residential care which are:

- Nursing and personal care appropriate to the level of care needs of the person;

- Bed and board;

- Basic aids and appliances necessary to assist a person with the activities of daily living; and

- Laundry service.

A person's eligibility for other schemes, such as the medical card scheme or the drugs payment scheme, is unaffected by participation in the NHSS or residence in a nursing home.  In determining the services covered by the NHSS it was considered very important that the care recipient and the taxpayer would be protected and would not end up paying for the same services twice. For this reason, medications and aids that are already prescribed for individuals under an existing scheme are not included in the services covered by the NHSS, as this would involve effectively paying twice for the same service.

Nursing Home Services

Ceisteanna (169)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

169. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Health if incontinence products supplied on a client-specific basis to residents of private nursing homes who hold full general medical services cards are exclusively used for the benefit of the identified client. [3500/19]

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 as soon as possible.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Ceisteanna (170)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

170. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Health if senior managers in the social care division of the HSE actively engage with and provide oversight to private nursing homes to ensure that exceptional governance is ongoing and that this engagement is in addition to the statutory responsibility of HIQA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3501/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as Fair Deal, is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost. The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.

The HSE operate the payment system of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) to private nursing homes. However, this is purely an administrative function after the rate for the nursing home has been set by the NTPF.

The HSE was prior to the Health Act 2007 the registration and inspection authority for nursing homes. This is no longer the case as this function has transferred in totality to HIQA as established under this same Act.

The HSE source Transitional Care Beds from private nursing homes for people leaving hospital where required and where their onward care plan has not yet been finalised.  The HSE secure this using the same rate that the NTPF have approved for the nursing home under the NHSS.  The HSE has no function beyond this as Transitional Care is for a short period and is entirely voluntary on the part of the service user.

The HSE can in certain circumstances be requested by HIQA or the Court to step in to provide governance but only where the nursing home is being pursued in respect of a breach of the regulations to such an extent that HIQA believe it is in the public interest to remove registration or to replace the provider.  In these limited cases the HSE will oversee the management of the home. However, this is relatively rare.

The HSE is itself a provider of public nursing homes and is subject to the same registration and inspection requirements of HIQA as that of a private nursing home.

The HSE does not have a statutory or regulatory function in respect of the governance of private nursing homes.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (171)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

171. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if a hospital appointment will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3503/19]

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, since 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.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (172)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

172. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Health the status of an application for funding by a club (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3506/19]

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.

Pharmacy Regulations

Ceisteanna (173, 177, 181)

John Brassil

Ceist:

173. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact the falsified medicines directive is due to come into operation on 9 February 2019 and it is perceived that the system is completely unprepared at all levels; if a more realistic timeframe will be put in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3515/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brassil

Ceist:

177. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the liability individual hospital pharmacists who are employees of the HSE and do not own the pharmacy in which they work will have under the falsified medicines directive due to come into effect on 9 February 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3535/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brassil

Ceist:

181. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the responsibility under the falsified medicines directive which lies with the HSE, in which it is the owner of hospital pharmacies, to provide and maintain the means by which verification and decommissioning can be enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3545/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173, 177 and 181 together.

The Safety Features Delegated Regulation (EU 2016/16) provides that from February 2019, most prescription medicines and a very small number of non-prescription medicines will have to carry ‘safety features’ on their outer packaging. These safety features take the form of an anti-tamper device (e.g. foil seal, breakable cap) and a set of unique identifiers embedded in a 2D barcode on the pack.

The Delegated Regulation is directly applicable across all EU Member States.  However, a Statutory Instrument is being prepared to ensure that the Irish legislative system is consistent with the requirements of the new Regulation. 

The Delegated Regulation was finalised and published in 2016. The intervening 3 year transition period allowed more than ample time for all concerned parties to prepare well in advance of the legislation coming into full effect on 9th February 2019.  Details of the requirements of the Delegated Regulation have been widely communicated to all sectors throughout this 3 year transition period, including to the HSE.

The intention of the provisions of the national Regulations in respect of persons authorised to supply medicinal products to the public, is that the offences for non-compliance with this EU Commission Delegated Regulation will be in line with offences already set out in other national medicinal product legislation. The new national Regulations, The Medicinal Products (Safety Features on Packaging) Regulations 2019, currently in draft form, are made under Section 32 of the Irish Medicines Board Act, 1995, as is the case with existing medicinal product Regulations which already provide for such rules and offences for non-compliance occurrences.

As with other medicinal products Regulations, this national legislation will provide that the ‘persons’ upon whom any proposed sanctions or penalties are placed may be a body corporate as well as an individual. This is dealt with by section 18(c) of the Interpretation Act 2005, which provides that a reference to "person" in any enactment includes a body corporate as well as an individual.

To reiterate this important point, the liable parties and the corresponding offences for this Delegated Regulation are in line with existing legislative arrangements governing the sale and supply of medicinal products to the public. There is nothing new in terms of the obligations under this legislation in terms of the focus of where the legal obligations lie. It is the responsibility of the body corporate to ensure that the infrastructure is in place and correctly functioning to facilitate the pharmacist decommissioning the medicinal product from the national repository prior to supplying to the patient. It is also the responsibility of the pharmacist that dispenses the medicinal product to comply with their requirements under this legislation.  It will be for the appropriate regulator to decide who might be prosecuted for an offence specified in the Statutory Instrument.

The Department recommends that HSE personnel who have questions or concerns relating to their obligations and the obligations of their organisation under Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/161 and the draft Medicinal Products (Safety Features on Packaging) Regulations 2018, should seek guidance from HSE Management in the first instance, including the readiness of the infrastructure to facilitate decommissioning of medicines, and from their professional Regulator.

The Department is considering all points submitted in the consultation.