Hospital Services

Ceisteanna (94, 400)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

94. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health the actions he has taken further to correspondence from a person (details supplied) on Merlin Park Hospital, Galway; if he has met with the relevant stakeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

400. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health the reason orthopaedic services have not recommenced on the Merlin Park campus of Galway University Hospital as promised; when they will recommence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5420/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 400 together.

As the deputy may be aware, it was necessary to close both orthopaedic theatres at Merlin Park to allow remedial work to be completed.

This remedial work facilitated the re-opening of one orthopaedic theatre in March 2018. In order to restore full elective orthopaedic services, the Hospital Group undertook a tender process for the provision of two modular orthopaedic theatres at the Merlin Park University Hospital site. A successful vendor was selected which allowed for the submission of a planning application on the 20th of December, 2018.

The timeframe for the delivery of the theatres will be established pending the outcome of the planning application.

Home Care Packages Data

Ceisteanna (95)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

95. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health the increase in home support hours being provided for in the 2019 HSE service plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5252/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE’s National Service Plan provides for a target of 17.9 million home support hours to be provided to 53,182 people. This represents an increase of about 800,000 hours and home support for 2,682 more people over last year’s target. In addition, 235 intensive home care packages will provide 360,000 home support hours for people with complex needs.

Hospitals Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (96)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

96. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the planned future uses of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin; and if the sale to Dublin City Council for housing and a local library has been considered. [5311/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As of 1 January 2019, Children's Health Ireland (CHI) governs the provision of paediatric services in Dublin at the Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght sites and will open services at the OPD Urgent Care Centre on the Connolly hospital campus in Mid 2019. Under the legislation establishing CHI, the boards of Crumlin and Temple Street hospitals voluntarily transferred their assets and liabilities to the new entity. As such, the Crumlin hospital campus has transferred to Children's Health Ireland. On completion of the new children's hospital on the campus of St James's and the two paediatric outpatient urgent care centres at Connolly and Tallaght Hospitals, paediatric services will no longer be provided at the Children’s and Temple Street sites.

The HSE entered into Memoranda of Understanding with Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital to ensure that the State’s investment to date in the hospitals is protected when the paediatric services are transferred to the new children’s hospital. Future uses for the Crumlin site have not yet been determined.

The new children's hospital on the campus shared with St James's Hospital, is scheduled to become operational in 2022. Until such time as all inpatient services transfer to the new hospital, they will continue to be provided in the facilities on the site of Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin.

The potential future uses to which the Crumlin land and buildings, or the proceeds of same, can be put for the benefit of children’s services is under consideration. No decision has been taken on this as yet.

Healthcare Policy

Ceisteanna (97)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

97. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to the establishment of regional bodies consisting of public representatives, the professional stakeholders and patient representatives with a view to restoring a demographic structure nationally in the context of reorganisation of the health services (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5384/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In August 2018, I published the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy which provides the framework within which a system-wide health reform programme will be advanced. The Strategy contains specific commitments in relation to improving governance and accountability across the health service.

The task of identifying the optimal set of health structures including national and regional bodies, and the most appropriate governance, accountability and performance framework for the future health system will be an important stream of work under the Sláintecare programme of reform. As set out in the Implementation Strategy, I am committed to the development of a new system of health structures comprising a leaner national centre with responsibility for national planning, strategy and standard setting, complemented by regional integrated care organisations with responsibility for the planning and delivery of services at a regional level.

As a first step, my Department undertook a public consultation regarding the geographical alignment of current regional structures, Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations, in 2018. The submissions to the consultation have been analysed by my Department and I hope to bring proposals to Government regarding geographical alignment shortly.

In parallel, my Department has commenced developing proposals in relation to the reconfiguration of health service structures, including the development of regional integrated care organisations. This will include consideration of the respective roles and responsibilities of the Department of Health, HSE national centre and new regional bodies, and the governance arrangements that will apply. I expect to bring these detailed proposals regarding these regional organisations to Government in late 2019.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (98)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

98. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health the status of progress on the human tissue (transplantation, post-mortem, anatomical examination and public display) Bill which deals with the introduction of the opt-out system for organ donation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5411/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The General Scheme of a Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill is being finalised at present and will be submitted to Government shortly.

The General Scheme will include provisions for a soft opt-out system of consent for deceased organ donation.

Nursing Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (99)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

99. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health the status of work to deal with issues on the recruitment and retention of nurses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5388/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As Minister for Health, the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives has been a consistent priority for me. Challenges exist around recruitment and retention of these professions, against a backdrop of a shortage at a global level. However, despite these challenges, the data shows that the HSE has managed to increase the number of nurses and midwives employed. A total of 867 WTEs, including student nurses, were recruited by the HSE in 2018.

I do believe that the recent pay proposals put forward were a positive step towards making the public health service a more attractive place to work for nurses and midwives. Firstly, the Public Service Pay Commission recommended 20% increases to the Specialist Qualification and Location Allowances for nurses. They are also to be extended to maternity services. In addition, the Commission recommended that eligibility requirements for Senior Staff Nurse or Midwife be reduced from 20 to 17 years.

The Government proposals made to address the issue of New Entrant pay will also benefit approximately 10,000 nurses to the value of around €3,000 each.

On foot of the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), Government is making very considerable resources available to increase public service pay, including in respect of nurses. This is on the basis that this agreement is honoured in full by all of the parties involved. As has been already pointed out in recent days. industrial action and seeking a cost increasing pay claim are both prohibited under the PSSA. However, I continue to believe that a solution can be found. I would urge the parties to come together in the intervening period before next Tuesday, to see if there is a way forward.

Ambulance Service Staff

Ceisteanna (100)

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

100. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the recent suspension of ambulance staff in County Cork due to issues relating to work rotas; the efforts he has made to resolve same and ensure that ambulance services in the county are safely staffed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5128/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.

Hospital Services

Ceisteanna (101)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

101. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to increase the number of orthopaedic operations being carried out in Galway by the Saolta hospital group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5412/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Improving waiting times for hospital procedures is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and €75 million was allocated to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) in Budget 2019 to provide treatment for patients.

I hope to publish the joint Department of Health/HSE/NTPF Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 for inpatient, day case and outpatients shortly. The plan will ensure an appropriate balance between high volume activities and offering treatment to complex long-waiting patients. It will reflect activity targets from the HSE, in line with the National Service Plan, to reduce waiting times across specialties and improve access to appointments and procedures. The plan will also set out activity levels for the NTPF in line with their increased allocation of funding in 2019.

The NTPF will deliver this activity through working with hospital groups and individual hospitals as well as private health providers to maximise the number of patients treated in a both public and private capacity. Under the Plan the NTPF has committed to make offers of treatment to patients waiting for one of 75 hospital procedures, which will include orthopaedics. The longest waiting patients who are clinically suitable for outsourcing for one of these targeted procedures will be offered treatment in 2019.

Hospital Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (102, 112)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

102. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health when the short-stay ward will open in Letterkenny University Hospital, County Donegal; the preparations the HSE has under way to ensure it is open promptly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5121/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

112. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health if recruitment has commenced to staff the short-stay ward at Letterkenny University Hospital, County Donegal; the number of staff in addition to the relevant grades which have been advertised for the ward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5122/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 112 together.

As Minister for Health, I recognise that hospitals are increasingly operating at or above capacity, with year-round demand pressures that are further challenged over the winter months. It is against this background that the Health Service Capacity Review 2018 recommended an increase in acute hospitals beds of over 2,600 by 2031 to support the projected increase in demand for services in the years ahead.

Increasing capacity is therefore a priority for the Government. Over the past 18 months, an additional 240 beds have been opened.

A Capacity Programme for 2019 has been agreed, which provides for the following increases to capacity, as set out in the National Service Plan 2019:

- 78 additional beds are planned for 2019, including the 40-bed modular build in South Tipperary General Hospital, the 30-bed ward in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, 4 HDU beds in Cork University Hospital and 4 HDU beds in the Mater Hospital;

- 75 acute beds and 70 community beds to come on stream in 2019, as part of the Winter Plan 2018/19, including 5 additional beds in Letterkenny University Hospital due for opening in quarter 1 2019; and

- preparation of 202 beds, of which 16 are critical care, by quarter 4 2019 with a view to bringing this extra capacity into operation in the first quarter of 2020, including additional beds in Letterkenny University Hospital.

In relation to the Deputy's query on the HSE's preparations ahead of the opening of the beds and the recruitment of staff, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to reply to the Deputy directly.

Tobacco Control Measures

Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 69.

Ceisteanna (103)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

103. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if smoking cessation aids will be provided under the medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5313/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Tobacco consumption is the largest avoidable health threat in Ireland; one in two smokers will die from a tobacco related disease. The policy document "Tobacco Free Ireland" sets out over 60 recommendations, with the overall aims of denormalising smoking in our society, protecting children from the harms of tobacco, enforcing, regulating and legislating for tobacco activities and products, educating about the dangers of tobacco and assisting those who smoke to stop.Making nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) more widely available, including in outlets where tobacco products are sold, is one of the recommendations in "Tobacco Free Ireland". NRT is available to medical card holders, on prescription, on the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme. NRT products are also available as over the counter items, without the need for a prescription. In 2014, the Health Products Regulatory Authority announced that it had licensed some NRT items for sale in non-pharmacy outlets. In addition, two non-nicotine prescription medicines are authorised in Ireland to assist in smoking cessation, and these are available in the community drug schemes.

Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 69.

Hospitals Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (105)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

105. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health if the proposed 90-bed unit for St. Patrick’s Hospital, Cashel, County Tipperary, is proceeding according to schedule and will not be postponed due to the overspend on the national children’s hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5161/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to this matter.

Nursing Staff Remuneration

Ceisteanna (106)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

106. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health his views on whether it is equitable that graduate nursing and midwifery salaries are significantly less than the graduate nursing salaries for allied health professionals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5393/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

A new entrant nurse or midwife in their first year earn an effective annual salary of €30,669. In addition to this basic salary, the HSE estimates that on average nurses and midwives earn an additional 20% of their basic salary in allowances and premium payments, which would increase the average gross salary for a new entrant nurse to €36,802. This compares favourably with other areas of graduate recruitment to the public service (where starting salaries are in the region of €30,000) and wage rates in the wider economy. Based on the most recent graduate earnings survey available, the average graduate earnings in Ireland are in the region of €28,000.

It should also be noted that it is not unusual for different graduates of different professions are paid at different rates, on completion of a four-year degree in their chosen field.

National Children's Hospital Administration

Ceisteanna (107)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

107. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health his views on the current membership of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board to oversee the delivery of Phase B of the national children's hospital project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5162/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Established under the National Paediatric Hospital Development (Establishment) Order 2007, the NPHDB is charged with planning, designing, building and equipping the new children’s hospital and outpatient and urgent care centres. As the Deputy is aware, on 2nd February last, the Chair of the Board tendered his resignation which I have accepted.

An independent review of the escalation of costs in the new children’s hospital is underway, to be concluded by the end of March. I have stated very clearly I will act on the findings of that report, including in relation to governance matters.

Hospital Deaths

Ceisteanna (108)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

108. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if an independent investigation into the death of a person (details supplied) will take place as soon as possible. [5341/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I am aware of a tragic event that occurred on 25 December last. I am unable to comment on individual cases. However, my thoughts and sympathies go out to the family at this very sad time. The HSE will update my Department as information becomes available. The HSE have also provided assurances to my Department that procedures for a full review are currently being put in place.

Hospital Appointments Delays

Ceisteanna (109)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

109. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the reason 4,450 persons have been waiting for an outpatient consultation in Cork city hospitals since before 1 January 2017. [5407/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I am conscious that waiting times are often unacceptably long and of the burden that this places on patients and their families. In this regard, I am committed to improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures.

I hope to publish the joint Department of Health, Health Service Executive (HSE) and National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 shortly. This will set out commitments aimed at improving access for patients waiting for hospital operations or procedures, as well as patients waiting for a first Outpatient appointment.

A key element of this Plan is the stabilisation of the Outpatient Waiting List which remains a significant challenge. The HSE, in line with the National Service Plan 2019 will provide 3.3 million outpatient appointments, more than 1 million of which will be first outpatient appointments.

In 2019, the HSE will focus in particular on specialties with a high volume of referrals and large proportions of long-waiting patients including ENT and Dermatology. In addition, the NTPF, with an increased allocation of €75million in 2019, will fund an additional 40,000 first outpatient appointments through weekend and out of hour’s clinics and ‘see and treat’ clinics.

The NTPF will deliver this additional activity in the health service by working with hospital groups and individual hospitals as well as private health providers to maximise the number of patients treated in both a public and private capacity. In this context, South/South West Hospital Group advise that through the support of the NPTF, 250 Orthopaedic patients will be seen in extra Outpatient sessions in 2019. This is a pathway that proved very successful in 2018 where similar additional clinics were used to provide outpatient appointments to 170 of the longest waiting patients.

The NTPF also advise that submissions considered and approved to date include provision for an additional Specialist Registrar and Nursing support to run additional Dermatology clinics for up to 500 long waiters in South Infirmary University Hospital in 2019.

Cancer Screening Programmes

Ceisteanna (110)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

110. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health when the proposed review of some CervicalCheck tests and smears by an organisation (details supplied) will commence; when it will report; if the review will detail both the grade of error involved in each false negative test and the number of such by each laboratory contracted under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5366/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Following the Government decision on 8 May 2018, an Independent Clinical Expert Panel Review is being carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) with expertise also sourced through the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology. The protocol for the Review has been published on the website of the Department of Health.

Where the expert panel opinion of cytology results differs to the original results provided by CervicalCheck, the panel will endeavour to determine, wherever possible, any failures to prevent cancer or to intervene at an earlier stage and will prepare individual reports for those affected, setting out the facts and their expert and independent assessment of those facts. The review will also produce an aggregated report.

A process has taken place to seek the consent of women to be included in the review, and over 1,000 women have now consented, or about 63% of those eligible. This is a very welcome level of participation and will facilitate a robust analysis of the performance of the Programme at an aggregated level. The HSE advises that the Expert Panel has been provided with colposcopy and other data in respect of women who have consented to participate, and that the transfer of slides for the cytology phase has now commenced, in accordance with standard operating procedures designed to ensure slides are protected. The Royal College has indicated it will take at least six months to complete the review.

Hospitals Building Programme

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 102.

Ceisteanna (111)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

111. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 289 of 25 September 2018, the status of the options appraisal for the model four hospital in County Galway; when it will be published; the persons conducting the appraisal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5334/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 102.

HSE Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (113)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

113. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health the waiting time for services for those who require early childhood health services in counties Galway and Mayo; the steps being taken to address the waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5413/19]

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.