HSE Staff Data

Ceisteanna (134)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

134. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the number of physical therapists on extended leave in the HSE by month in 2018; if each post empty due to leave is covered; and if not, the percentage of posts that were fully covered in each month in 2018. [5876/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (135, 136, 137, 138, 139)

James Browne

Ceist:

135. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied with the differing public health standards here in contrast to Northern Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5890/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

136. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the reason his Department is unwilling to adopt a new procurement approach to ensure that persons are optimally protected from the most potent influenza viruses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5891/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

137. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the reason his Department will not procure a quadrivalent vaccination for the forthcoming winter influenza season (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5892/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

138. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health his views on the World Health Organization published recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2019 to 2020 northern hemisphere influenza season (details supplied); if he will direct the HSE to follow this guidance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5893/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

139. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health his views on the rise in hospitalisations and deaths from the 2018 to 2019 influenza season; his plans to make a provision to prevent the same occurrence during the 2019 to 2020 season; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5894/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 to 139, inclusive, together.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) organises consultations twice annually with an advisory group of experts to analyse influenza virus surveillance data generated by the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System, and issues recommendations on the composition of the influenza vaccines for the following influenza season. Influenza vaccine is most effective when circulating viruses are well-matched with viruses contained in vaccines due to their constant evolving nature. These recommendations are used by national vaccine regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies to develop, produce and license influenza vaccines.

The influenza vaccine purchased by HSE is based on WHO advice on the composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the northern hemisphere influenza season. The WHO issued its advice on 22 February 2018, recommending that quadrivalent vaccines for use in the 2018/19 northern hemisphere influenza season contain the following:

- an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;

- an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus;

- a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage); and

- a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata/16/88 lineage).

It also recommended that the influenza B virus component of trivalent vaccines for use in the 2018/19 northern hemisphere influenza season be a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus of the B/Victoria/2/87-lineage. The trivalent vaccine used in Ireland is the most widely used influenza vaccine in Europe and is providing good protection against the influenza A strain viruses that are circulating this season as the majority of hospitalisations are associated with influenza A.

The WHO will shortly be holding a consultation and information meeting in Beijing, China on the composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2019/20 northern hemisphere influenza season between the 18 to 20 February. After this meeting the WHO will announce its recommendation for the composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2019/20 northern hemisphere influenza season for both quadrivalent and trivalent vaccines. The Flu vaccine purchased by HSE will be based on this advice.

The HSE National Immunisation Office and HSE Procurement are responsible for the purchase of influenza vaccine. To ensure adequate vaccine supply, this tender process must be completed 9 months in advance of the first delivery into Ireland by the end of August as it takes about 6 months to manufacture sufficient vaccine quantity for each season. It is intended that a quadrivalent vaccine will be used for 2019/20 and a procurement process through the HSE is currently underway. The composition of the vaccine will be based on the advices of the WHO for the 2019/20 northern hemisphere influenza season which is due to be announced in a few weeks’ time.

The seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended for the following at risk groups:

- persons who are 65 years of age and over;

- pregnant women;

- persons who have a long-term health condition;

- persons who work in healthcare;

- carers;

- persons living in a nursing home or other long-term care facility; and

- persons who are in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.

As of 27 January 2019 (week 4) there were 1,066 confirmed influenza related hospitalised cases compared to 1,825 for the same time period last year. The number of confirmed deaths for week 4, 2019 is 25 compared to 112 for the same time period last year.

The 2017/18 influenza season was a severe season with a high impact placed on the Irish health system. During the 2017/18 influenza season, 255 influenza related cases were reported as having died, the highest number of influenza deaths recorded in any season. The total number of confirmed influenza cases hospitalised during the 2017/18 influenza season was 4,713 which exceeded all previous seasons on record since surveillance began in 2000.

Vaccination still remains the most effective means of preventing infection caused by seasonal influenza viruses and can reduce severe disease that can lead to hospitalisation and even death.

The HSE reviews and updates its influenza plans annually, including its communication strategy, taking into account the lessons learned from previous years, with a view to targeting key groups in order to create the greatest impact in terms of people receiving the influenza vaccine.

Hospitals Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (140)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

140. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if there will be a delay in the provision of capital funding to Cavan General Hospital for the purpose of upgrading wards in view of the significant cost overruns in the National Children’s Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5910/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive is currently developing its Capital Plan for 2019. The HSE Capital Plan will determine the projects that can progress in 2019 and beyond having regard to the available capital funding, the number of large national capital projects currently underway and the relevant priority of each project. The requirements of the new children's hospital and other health capital projects, currently at various stages of development, are being considered as part of this process. Once the HSE has finalised its Capital Plan for 2019, it will then be submitted to me for consideration.

Home Care Packages Provision

Ceisteanna (141)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

141. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the steps he will take to put funding in place for home care packages in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5911/19]

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.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (142)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

142. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health if an appointment will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5933/19]

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.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (143)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

143. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if an operation will be expedited for a person (details supplied) in UHK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5937/19]

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.

Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (144)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

144. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health the reason the primary care reimbursement service has changed the way in which it receives emailed medical card applications by reducing the file size, thereby ensuring it does not receive email medical card applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5948/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

HSE Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (145)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

145. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the number of children under 18 years of age in each LHO area awaiting a podiatry appointment in primary care at the end of 2018 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks, respectively. [5963/19]

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.

HSE Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (146)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

146. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the number of children under 18 years of age in each LHO area awaiting an ophthalmology appointment in primary care at the end of 2018 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks. [5964/19]

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.

HSE Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (147)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

147. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the number of children under 18 years of age in each LHO area awaiting an audiology appointment in primary care at the end of 2018 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks, respectively. [5965/19]

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.

HSE Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (148)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

148. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the number of children under 18 years of age in each LHO area awaiting a dietetics appointment in primary care at the end of 2018 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks, respectively. [5966/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

HSE Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (149)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

149. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the number of children under 18 years of age in each LHO area awaiting an oral health appointment in primary care at the end of 2018 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks, respectively. [5967/19]

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.

HSE Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (150)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

150. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the number of children under 18 years of age in each LHO area awaiting a psychology appointment in primary care at the end of 2018 or the latest date available; and the number waiting 0 to 12, 12 to 26, 26 to 52 and more than 52 weeks, respectively. [5968/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (151)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

151. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a 2018 area of natural constraints payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5770/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

On 17th October 2018 my Department received a letter from the solicitor acting for the deceased in this case. This letter confirmed the date of death and quoted the herd number of the deceased. On foot of this correspondence my Department issued a letter to the solicitor on 26th October 2018. This letter set out details of the schemes in which the deceased had participated and advised on the procedure for transferring these schemes, the herd number and the payment entitlements held by the deceased. The letter also advised details of outstanding payments and the testamentary documents required in order to facilitate payment of these monies.

My Department has received no further correspondence in relation to this case since issuing the letter on 26th October. No testamentary documents have been submitted to my Department in order to facilitate the transfer of schemes and payment of outstanding monies. My Department has now re-issued the letter of 26th October to the solicitor representing the deceased. The Inheritance Enquiry Unit of my Department is available to provide any assistance that may be required.

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (152)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

152. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if forestry parcels on a basic payment application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be reinstated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5772/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

An application under the 2018 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) was received from the person named on 2nd May 2018.

As indicated, the named forestry parcels were not included in the application. They were later added by way of a BPS amendment form. A review of this case has been completed and the parcels have been added to the application.

A supplementary payment will issue in the near future to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Coillte Teoranta Governance

Ceisteanna (153)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

153. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the bodies, public or private, responsible for providing certification to Coillte to permit it to trade in timber; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5779/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The management of the forest estate and operational matters such as certification are a matter for, and the responsibility of, Coillte as a commercial State Body.

I have accordingly referred the Deputy’s question to Coillte and have requested that a response issue to directly to you.

Fishing Industry

Ceisteanna (154)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

154. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which fish processing facilities remain adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5915/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There are currently 201 approved land-based seafood processors in Ireland which are, in the main, located in and around our fishing ports. The scale of operation of the processors varies from micro enterprises to medium sized enterprises and large enterprises.

A range of supports are available to seafood processors under my Department's €238 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme (EMFF) 2014-20. An enterprise may, subject to the size of its operation, apply for capital investment supports to its local Fisheries Local Action Group or to Bord Iascaigh Mhara as appropriate. In addition, further EMFF supports are available to processing enterprises under the EMFF Seafood Innovation and Business Planning Scheme for innovation, new product development and business planning, while supports for market research and route to market structures are available under the EMFF Seafood Scaling and New Market Development Scheme, jointly implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and Bord Bia.

Food Industry Development

Ceisteanna (155)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

155. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he continues to encourage new markets for food and food products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5916/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Irish meat, dairy and food products have a highly rated and hard earned reputation in terms of quality, safety, animal welfare and sustainability all over the world. My officials continue to work towards opening and enhancing access to as many markets as possible. This is a key part of our response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit, and is in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy and the 7 Point Action Plan on market access that I launched in April 2017.

The long-term fundamentals of the global dairy and meat markets are strong, with growing global demand projected from fast developing countries with increasing middle classes and more westernised diets. Whilst significant challenges have continued throughout recent years, in particular price volatility in the dairy sector, there is confidence that the Irish food industry is well placed to gain from the opportunity presented by expanding global demand, underpinned by the success of our efforts and those of the Irish food industry.

The opening of the Chinese beef market to six Irish beef establishments in 2018 was a notable success, following several years of effort. My officials are in the process of trying to get additional establishments approved by the Chinese authorities. In 2018 markets for Irish beef, sheepmeat and poultry were also opened in Kuwait and Qatar.

Enhanced market access for Irish dairy was secured with a number of destination markets in 2017 and 2018. Agreement with third country competent authorities was reached resulting in renegotiated bilateral certification requirements for various dairy product categories, including with Japan and Mexico.

The role of my Department is to open up markets for the industry and it is then up to the industry with the support of my Department and Bord Bia, to avail of these opportunities. However, the actual levels of exports will depend on a range of factors, including as global supply and demand dynamics, currency fluctuations and individual customer requirements.

Agrifood Sector

Ceisteanna (156)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

156. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which efforts are being made to ensure the delivery of quality agrifoods throughout the globe in the event of having to bypass the UK in the aftermath of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5917/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The agrifood sector is of critical importance to the Irish economy, and its regional spread means it underpins the socio-economic development of rural areas in particular. As such, Brexit has the potential to have a very significant impact on farmers and on the agrifood sector throughout Ireland, and the extent of this potential impact has been highlighted by studies carried out by agencies such as Teagasc, the Department of Finance, the Economic and Social Research Institute, Inter Trade Ireland and Copenhagen Economics.

In the event that there is disruption to Irish exports moving through the UK, I am informed that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has engaged with the shipping industry and has been advised that there is sufficient capacity within the industry should exporters using the UK wish to divert.

A considerable amount of work has also been put into intensifying our market diversification efforts in order to reduce our exposure to the UK market.

For example, the additional funding that I have provided to Bord Bia has been used, inter alia, to provide targeted advice to individual companies as well as to conduct a market prioritisation exercise which is now informing our approach to market diversification activities, including the choice of destinations for Trade Missions. Trade Missions play an important role in this regard, and I have been very active on this front in recent years as we strive to gain, and then develop, a presence in as many global markets as possible. I have led very successful missions to the Gulf Region, the US, Mexico, Japan and Korea in 2017, and to the US, Canada, China, Indonesia and Malaysia 2018. These missions included participants from across the agrifood sector and featured extensive trade contacts as well as high-level political discussions. These and the other missions that my Department has under consideration for 2019 will serve to enhance and improve our existing levels of market access in these destinations. Indeed, since the UK referendum I have increased Bord Bia’s funding by a total of €19.5 million, including a further €5 million allocated in Budget 2019.

Product diversification has also been supported through additional funding of €8.8 million to Teagasc to develop its National Food Innovation Hub, and funding to support investment in the prepared consumer foods sector.

My Department is also taking other direct, practical actions to support the sector’s market diversification efforts, for example through a seven-point Market Access Plan, which includes the allocation of more departmental resources to market access work, an online portal through which essential information across a wide range of markets can be centrally accessed. Such actions will continue to ensure delivery of high quality Irish agrifoods throughout the globe.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (157)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

157. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he can encourage mitigation action in respect of greenhouse gases with the minimum impact on agriculture production; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5918/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There is a continued focus in my Department on mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with minimum impact on agriculture production. The long-term policy vision for the agricultural sector is an approach to carbon neutrality which does not compromise the capacity for sustainable food production as referred to in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.

In the agriculture sector we have focussed strongly on improving the efficiency of Irish farming which is key to reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. There is clear recognition in Food Wise 2025 that the continued growth of the sector must be on the basis of sustainable intensification. I firmly believe that we can contribute to GHG mitigation objectives while safe guarding our food production by continuing to make improvements in areas such as:

- Animal breeding strategies

- Grassland management

- Nutrient management

- Animal health and welfare

- Feeding strategies that maximise the efficiency of our grass based production system.

My Department and its Agencies are actively involved with the farming sector and continue to invest heavily in a number of schemes and measures to help farmers reduce their carbon footprint while also enhancing output. Such schemes include the Green Low Carbon Agri Environment Scheme (GLAS) programme and which specifically include actions to support climate mitigation; the Beef Data Genomics Programme, which actively supports breeding improvements in our national Suckler Herd and the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes which provides Capital grants for technology and capital investment generating greater efficiency. As an example of my continued focus on encouraging mitigation action at farm level I have recently launched a Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot scheme that builds on the success of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme with a funding provision of €20m in 2019.

Innovation and technology will also play an increasing role in supporting the sector to deliver on the sustainability agenda; we are already seeing how technology is being used for calculating the carbon footprint of farms and in other areas such as grass measurement.

We are continuously looking ahead; increased environmental ambition will be a key element of CAP Post 2020. As we look towards defining the measures and targets under the new CAP regime the recently published Teagasc report “An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030” is key to informing the type of abatement measures we need to focus on with a view to achieving the 2030 targets.

Agrifood Sector

Ceisteanna (158)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

158. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which the market for venison remains viable nationally and abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5919/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Deer farming in Ireland is an alternative enterprise which is dependent on the dynamics of supply and demand which affect all agricultural production systems. In 1996 there were approximately 500 deer farms with 20,000 deer in Ireland, but numbers have declined sharply since that time.

Today there are only a small number of farmers in Ireland actively supplying deer for meat production, which cater primarily to specialised niche markets. The sector is reliant upon producers and companies ensuring that a market exists for their product, an objective which Bord Bia assists in by identifying and developing potential market outlets.

There was some recent growth in the Irish market during 2016 for example with around 764 deer slaughtered for this market, but this declined to 271 deer for 2017, and only 185 for 2018.

Growth in the past was achieved as a result of improved distribution for game meats, especially in supermarkets. Game and exotic meats historically occupy a premium, niche segment of the meat market. Whilst there are opportunities to compete with the larger premium segment of the red meat/poultry categories, it is important to note that demand is seasonal, with the greatest concentration of retail shelf space dedicated to game in the Winter/Christmas period.

My Department has approved one factory for the slaughter of deer in Ireland, and two game handling plants. There may also be outlets for processing of venison in Local Authority approved plants, but this would be a matter for the Local Authority concerned.