Hospitals Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (194)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

194. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health if the delivery and operation of the modular unit at South Tipperary General Hospital is being affected due to the escalating costs of the national children’s hospital project at St James's Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3581/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

This development is included in the HSE's National Service Plan for 2019 and the necessary capital funding is in place for the delivery of this project, which is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of Q1 2019 and operational in Q2 2019.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (195)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

195. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Health the number of meetings he has attended since the beginning of September 2018 with his officials to discuss and prepare for Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3599/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As part of a whole of Government response to Brexit, I and my Department are working to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated set of preparations to ensure continuity of health services post-Brexit. This work involves the Department and the HSE and other agencies in engaging in intensive Brexit preparedness and contingency planning.

A key consideration will be to ensure that insofar as possible there is minimum disruption to health services and that essential services are maintained on a cross-Border, all-island and Ireland-UK basis insofar as possible.

Brexit is a priority issue both for me and officials in my Department. The Management Board considers the issue on a regular basis. It is a regular item for discussion with the Secretary General, with other senior officials and at Ministerial Management Board meetings. My engagements can range from structured meetings to informal briefings. 

This covers, among other matters the work of the various Departmental Brexit working groups including the Secretary General Heads of Agencies Group and the weekly Health Sector Operations Team on Brexit. I am also briefed on the Department's participation in the inter-departmental work on Brexit being led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of the Taoiseach. I have also, with my Department engaged on Brexit issues at EU level and bilaterally with the UK.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Ceisteanna (196)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

196. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if a review of an allowance in payment to a person (details supplied) will be arranged with a view to increasing the weekly amount. [3608/19]

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.

In order to determine how much an applicant will contribute to the cost of their care, a financial assessment is carried out by the HSE which takes account of a person's income and assets. 

I would suggest that the applicant contact their local HSE Nursing Homes Support Scheme Office to request a review of the financial assessment, if twelve months have elapsed since the date of the initial financial assessment or the most recent review of that assessment.

Where a resident under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) has assets including land or property, they may defer their contribution to care based on such assets under Ancillary State Support (also known as Nursing Home Loan). This contribution becomes payable on their death. However, where the asset concerned is the principal residence of the surviving partner of the person who has died, the surviving partner may request that repayment of the loan is further deferred for their lifetime. A person wishing to apply for a further deferral, or a representative acting on their behalf, must apply for such a deferral not later than 3 months after the death of the applicant. In compelling circumstances, an application may be made up until 6 months after the death of the applicant. The application should be made on the form specified by the HSE.

Industrial Relations

Ceisteanna (197)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

197. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health his plans to intervene in the ongoing industrial dispute between members of an organisation (details supplied) and the HSE; the efforts he is making to ensure that a resolution to the dispute can be found with the view to avoiding the occurrence of industrial action by the organisation and the impact which such a strike action may have on services and patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3609/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

SIPTU is recognised by the HSE and has negotiating rights for frontline ambulance grades employed by the Executive. As a result, the HSE deducts subscriptions at source for those ambulance staff that are members of that union. However, the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) is not recognised by the HSE and, therefore, does not have  negotiating rights. 

Whilst individuals have a right to membership of any trade union, if they choose to join an association which is not recognised by their employer, such membership is not facilitated by their employer. This means that the HSE does not facilitate deduction of union subscriptions for this particular Association.

In order to mitigate the risk of any potential disruption to service, I have been advised by the HSE that the National Ambulance Service had robust contingency arrangements in place to respond to the industrial action. This involved ensuring the availability of the Irish Defence Forces to provide crewed ambulances on the day of the strike.

It is regrettable that NASRA has taken industrial action. Whilst negotiation is usually a preferred course of action, in this instance it is not  possible for the HSE to engage with NASRA as it is an organisation with no negotiating rights in respect of frontline ambulance personnel.

Home Help Service Data

Ceisteanna (198)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

198. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the number of persons that have been granted home help hours; and the number still on the waiting list that have not received hours to date. [3610/19]

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.

Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (199)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

199. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an application for a medical card by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3611/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Pharmacy Regulations

Ceisteanna (200)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

200. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health his plans to reverse a decision (details supplied) and allow pharmacists who are training to be paid during placement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3621/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) is the pharmacy regulator in Ireland and is responsible for regulating pharmacists and pharmacies in the public interest. Several of the PSI’s functions under the Pharmacy Act 2007 relate to education, including promoting and ensuring the highest standards in education and training for the qualification to practise as a pharmacist, and make sure that relevant experience is gained in the course of that pharmacy education and training.

In 2010 the PSI commissioned a review of the five year programme of education and training for the pharmacist qualification in Ireland. One of the recommendations included the introduction of an integrated 5-year Masters level programme of education and training for pharmacists in line with international best practice, to replace the previous 4 year Bachelor plus 1 year in-service practical training programme.

A National Forum was established to advise and assist the Council of the PSI in its oversight of the development and ongoing delivery of the new fully integrated programme of pharmacy education, training and assessment. The National Forum for Pharmacy Education and Accreditation Interim Report of November 2013 noted that it was an essential component of the integrated degree that the student remain a student for the full five years of study. Under the previous model, students became employees during their final year.

Since September 2015, students commencing their pharmacy education undertake a PSI-accredited five-year fully integrated Master’s degree programme in pharmacy, with the first cohort awarded this MPharm degree graduating in 2020. This programme is operated by the schools of pharmacy in three universities in Ireland (Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and Royal College of Surgeons Ireland).

This newer pharmacy programme provides for both the academic and practical experience that is required by students to qualify to practise as a pharmacist in Ireland. Students qualify after 5 years with a Masters in Pharmacy and are eligible to apply for registration as a pharmacist with the PSI.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Education and Training) (Integrated Course) Rules 2014 (S.I. No. 377 of 2014) is the legislation which underpins the new 5 year MPharm educational programme. It includes the programme recognition and accreditation requirements, and details about the in-service training placements for students.

Part of the PSI’s accreditation process involves visits to the universities operating the MPharm programme, which includes meeting with representative students at each School of Pharmacy. The accreditation teams assess the programme of training and education various standards, including one related to students and the supports available to students.

The PSI has stated that it will continue to engage with the academic institutions that deliver the MPharm programme and their role is to ensure the quality of the MPharm programme and high standards in education and training for the qualification to practise as a pharmacist.

Medical Records

Ceisteanna (201)

James Browne

Ceist:

201. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the reason the only route for a patient seeking a copy of X-rays is to submit a freedom of information request; the reason there is not a less costly method to provide same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3630/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Generally, access to one's health records, including copies of x-rays, should be provided routinely and administratively, having regard to privacy, confidentiality and the public interest. An application may be made in writing to the appropriate service or agency providing enough information (date of birth, current and previous addresses, dates of contact with the specific services etc.) to help in locating records.

For patients of the public system, access to their medical records can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act. There is no application fee for such requests. However, there is a charge of €6 for an x-ray. They may apply in writing to the public body that holds the records. Such patients may also be entitled to their medical records under the Data Protection Acts (2003 and 2008), for which there is no charge.

People who visit their G.P. privately or attend a non-HSE funded or private hospital may access their records under the Data Protection Acts (2003 and 2008). No charge applies.

Mental Health Services

Ceisteanna (202)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

202. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health the status of the open dialogue programme that started in Bantry, County Cork in September 2015; the way in which the programme works; if it has been considered a success; if it will be rolled out to other CHO teams and areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3631/19]

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 Minister as soon as possible.

Mental Health Services

Ceisteanna (203)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

203. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health the status of the advancing recovery Ireland initiative in counties Wexford and Waterford; the achievements the programme has had there; the number of meetings that have taken place since the initiative began; the number of service users that engaged with the initiative; the number of HSE staff that engaged with the initiative in counties Wexford and Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3632/19]

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 Minister as soon as possible.