Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (419)

John Curran

Ceist:

419. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health his plans to provide access to the purchase of the meningitis B vaccine for children born before 2016, in particular to those with a medical card; his plans to address the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8236/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is an independent committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland which is comprised of experts from several specialties, including infectious diseases, paediatrics, and public health, which makes recommendations to my Department on vaccination policy in Ireland. Its recommendations are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practice in relation to immunisation.  NIAC continues to revise recommendations to allow for the introduction of new vaccines in Ireland and to keep abreast of changes in the patterns of disease.

On foot of a recommendation by NIAC, the Primary Childhood Immunisation Schedule was amended in 2016 to include the introduction of the Meningitis B vaccine for all babies born on or after 1 October 2016.  This change to the immunisation schedule took effect from 1 December 2016.  The first dose of the vaccine is administered to children when they reach two months of age; a second dose is administered at four months and a third and final dose at twelve months. Meningitis B disease is most common in babies under the age of 1 year old and the scheduling of the administration of the vaccine under the immunisation programme takes account of this. 

All vaccines administered through the Primary Childhood Immunisation Schedule are provided free of charge.  Ireland is the second country in Europe to make the Men B vaccine available free of charge as part of its national immunisation programme. 

There are no plans to introduce a catch-up programme for the Men B vaccine to older children.  Those who have a medical card are eligible to have the vaccine administered by their GP free of charge.  However, the purchase of the vaccine is not covered by the medical card scheme.

In Ireland, Men B; Men C; PCV and Hib vaccines are offered to children to protect them against meningitis.  Adolescents are also given a Men C booster vaccine in the first year of secondary school against meningitis as part of the School Immunisation Programme.

As on Friday 15 February 2019, twenty-five cases of meningococcal disease have been notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). Of the 3 meningococcal deaths reported, one death was caused by the B strain (serogroup) and two by W strain (serogroup).  In 2018 there were 89 reported cases of meningococcal disease (across all serogroups) with 13 deaths in total.

Alcohol Pricing

Ceisteanna (420, 421, 422)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

420. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the timeframe in which he will seek a revised decision to implement minimum unit pricing here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8263/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

421. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health if a deadline for seeking a revised decision on implementing minimum unit pricing here will be set; the reason for the failure to do so since the enactment of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8264/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

422. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a study which shows that alcohol pricing is not the primary determinant of cross-Border shopping in view of the fact it constitutes just 12% of all spend on cross-Border trips; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8265/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 420 to 422, inclusive, together.

I welcome the Deputy's support for this important public health measure.

I intend to seek a revised Government Decision to implement Minimum Unit Pricing after 30 March, by which time there should be more certainty in relation to the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and its impacts.

The 12% figure quoted by the Deputy is contained in 2013 research on Minimum Unit Pricing from the University of Sheffield. That research was commissioned by my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, and forms part of the evidence base for the effectiveness of Minimum Unit Pricing as a measure to address the health harms and costs of alcohol.

Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (423)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

423. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the grounds upon which a person (details supplied) was refused a medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8269/19]

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.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (424)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

424. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when a cataract operation will take place in the Mater Hospital for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8270/19]

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 (425)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

425. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when a cataract operation will take place in the Mater Hospital for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8271/19]

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.

Cross-Border Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (426)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

426. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health the position regarding treatment in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8284/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE operates the EU Cross Border Directive (CBD) in Ireland. Patients in Ireland can seek to be referred to another EU/EEA member state for medical treatment that is available in the public health service in Ireland. The patient may access the overseas service in either the public or private health sector of the EU/EEA member state they choose to receive the service in. The patient pays for the treatment and claims reimbursement from the HSE at the cost of that treatment in Ireland or the cost of it abroad, whichever is the lesser.

The HSE through the National Contact Point (NCP) provides information for patients on its website and can be contacted to discuss the possibility of making an application for reimbursement under the CBD by post at HSE National Contact Point, St Canices, Laken, Dublin Road, Kilkenny, R95 P231 or by phone 056 7784551. 

Cancer Screening Programmes

Ceisteanna (427)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

427. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the timescale for the results of repeat cervical smears; the number of women in each county waiting, in tabular form; the length of time they are waiting; and the reason for delays. [8285/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In May 2018, I asked CervicalCheck to make the necessary arrangements to provide that any woman who had had a CervicalCheck smear test, and whose GP considered that she should have a further test as part of her reassurance, to access such a further test without charge. This decision was made in good faith to address the considerable fears of the many anxious women in Ireland, following issues which had emerged in relation to the CervicalCheck screening programme. 

In the months since then, there has been a significant increase in the volume of women presenting for smear tests. This includes women who have availed of the out of cycle tests, but also a greater number of women presenting for scheduled screening.  This increased level of engagement with the programme is very welcome. However, the increased demand has undoubtedly put pressure on lab capacity and turnaround times. 

The HSE has been working actively with the labs to manage this issue and to improve turnaround times for smear tests. In addition, the HSE is aiming to source additional screening capacity, which would improve the turnaround time of results; however, sourcing capacity and resources is a global challenge as countries start to move to primary HPV screening, which vastly reduces the requirement for cytology screening staff. The HSE is currently developing a capacity plan, which will take account of available capacity and expected demand, with the aim of bringing the programme into stabilisation this year. This is a priority concern for my Department and the HSE. 

In relation to the specific data requested, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy. 

Disabilities Assessments

Ceisteanna (428)

Seamus Healy

Ceist:

428. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Health the position regarding an assessment of needs for a child (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8298/19]

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.

Health Services Staff Data

Ceisteanna (429)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

429. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the number of staff in the cross-border directive unit; the number of these who are HSE staff; the number of these who are agency staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8299/19]

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. 

Health Services Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (430)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

430. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health if he has received a submission seeking additional resources for the cross-border directive unit; the number of staff that have been requested; when the submission was received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8300/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The management of staffing levels for the HSE Cross Border Directive (CBD) office is an operational matter for the HSE.  I understand that a business case for increased staffing levels has been made by the CBD office and is being considered in the HSE. A copy of this business case was forwarded by the HSE to my Department in May 2018 for information purposes.

As this is an operational matter I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on the particulars of the staffing submission in relation to the CBD office.

Cross-Border Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (431)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

431. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the number of applications received by the cross-border directive unit in each of the past five years; the number of these which were approved for reimbursement in each of the past five years; the amount paid in reimbursements in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8301/19]

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. 

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (432)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

432. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of a procedure for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8314/19]

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.

Drugs Payment Scheme Administration

Question No. 434 answered with Question No. 328.

Ceisteanna (433)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

433. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Health if he will address an anomaly in the drugs payment scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8318/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, the HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug schemes; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 434 answered with Question No. 328.

Respite Care Services Provision

Ceisteanna (435)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

435. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health when respite care will be provided in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8325/19]

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. 

The Programme for Partnership Government states that the Government wishes to provide more accessible respite care to facilitate full support for people with a disability.

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.

Home Help Service Provision

Ceisteanna (436)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

436. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if additional home help hours which were allocated to a person (details supplied) will be put in place as soon as possible. [8329/19]

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.

Healthcare Policy

Ceisteanna (437)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

437. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health when an action plan to implement Sláintecare will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As per Parliamentary Question No. 159 of the 24 January 2019, in September, the Executive Director of the Sláintecare Programme Office commenced refining the Implementation Strategy into a detailed Action Plan for 2019. I can confirm that the Action Plan 2019 has been developed and, following the finalisation of the HSE's National Service Plan, Project Teams are now being established to drive delivery.

The Action Plan will be presented to Sláintecare's High Level Delivery Board and will be published thereafter.

The Sláintecare Programme Office is committed to transparency at all stages of the implementation of Sláintecare. The Programme Office will publish rolling plans annually and progress reports will be published on a biannual basis.

Organ Donation

Ceisteanna (438)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

438. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health when the opt-out organ donation legislation will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8364/19]

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.  

Abortion Services Provision

Ceisteanna (439)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

439. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the timeframe for the introduction of legislation to ensure safe access to premises in which termination of pregnancy services may be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8365/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy is aware, it is my intention to introduce legislation to ensure safe access to premises in which termination of pregnancy services may be provided. The aim of the legislation would be to allow patients, service providers, healthcare staff and members of the public to enter such premises without fear of intimidation or harassment.

While it was originally intended to provide for such safe access in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018, a number of legal issues were identified during the drafting process. In order to allow full consideration of these issues, Government approved the drafting of a separate piece of legislation on safe access to health services.

Officials in my Department are working with the Office of the Attorney General on this legislation with a view to having a General Scheme by the summer.

Orthodontic Services Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (440)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

440. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 161 of 24 January 2019, the number of persons waiting for orthodontic treatment by time periods (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8366/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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