Home Help Service Provision

Ceisteanna (26)

John Lahart

Ceist:

26. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health the number of extra home support hours which will be provided for older persons in CHO 7 in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12222/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Improving access to home support has been a priority for Government.

The 2019 Health Service Executive National Service Plan provides for 17.9 million home support hours to be delivered to over 53,000 people. The HSE's Community Healthcare Operational Plan, which is due to be published shortly, will set out in detail the type and volume of health and personal social care services that will be provided in the community in the current year. Home Support targets for 2019 will identify both the number of home support hours to be delivered and the number of persons that will be provided with a home support service in CHO7.  Whilst awaiting final determination of the 2019 targets CHO7 continues to allocate home support hours to new clients from those who no longer require the service.

In addition, I am informed by the HSE that a total of 134 Home Support packages have been commenced in the CHO 7 area under the Winter Planning Initiative 2018-2019 to facilitate discharge from hospital and for hospital avoidance.

Nursing Staff

Ceisteanna (27)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

27. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health his plans to ensure the retention and recruitment of nurses is successful in the coming period. [12410/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Recruitment and retention of nursing staff in the public health service continues to be a priority for the Government.  It is a significant challenge given a backdrop of global shortages in health professionals and international competition for nursing staff trained in Ireland.

Considerable progress has been made in growing and retaining the nursing workforce in recent years.

The report setting out progress on implementation of the Nursing Recruitment and Retention Agreement shows that there has been a significant growth in the appointment of nurses and midwives with 942 WTE additional nursing posts in 2017, including student nurses. 

The HSE has continued to recruit additional nurses and midwives to the workforce. 867 additional nurses and midwives were recruited in 2018 (834 excluding student nurses). Recruitment is continuing into 2019.  This, however, must be on an affordable basis in the context of the funding resources allocated and the provisions of the HSE National Service Plan 2019. 

Hospitals Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (28, 38)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

28. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health the status of the development of the regional hospital for the north east in Navan, County Meath; and if he has received written correspondence from his ministerial colleagues seeking its advancement and development in the past three years. [12405/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

38. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health the status of the development of the regional hospital for the north east; and if he has received correspondence from his ministerial colleagues seeking its advancement in the past three years. [12404/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 38 together.

There are currently no plans to construct a regional hospital for the north east in Navan.  The proposal that a regional hospital be developed in Navan originated in a report prepared for the HSE in 2008.  This proposal was superseded by the Government's decision, in 2013, to re-organise acute hospitals into Hospital Groups.

Our Lady’s Hospital Navan is part of the Ireland East Hospital Group. Every hospital in that Group, large and small, has a vital role to play within the Group, with smaller hospitals managing routine, urgent or planned care locally and more complex care managed in the larger hospitals.  

Currently, the Hospital Group is engaged in a programme of re-design work to further integrate and enhance the role of Navan Hospital within the Group and to ensure that it will provide more services safely and appropriately. It is intended that the Hospital Group will continue to engage closely with all interested parties to ensure that the needs of patients, staff, the local and wider community are addressed. 

I am in regular contact with my Ministerial colleagues with regard to Navan Hospital. 

Hospitals Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (29)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

29. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the status of investment in regional hospitals and in particular a hospital (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12396/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The establishment of Hospital Groups has enabled a better configuration of hospital services with benefits relating to safety, quality, access, cost and sustainable medical staffing. The structure ensures that Hospitals working together in a Group will be able to support each other, providing a stronger role for smaller hospitals in delivering less complex care, and ensuring that those who require emergency or complex planned care are managed safely in larger hospitals.

The Smaller Hospitals Framework focuses in particular on the future role of smaller hospitals and outlines the wide range of services that can be provided within these smaller hospitals.  The Department of Health is committed to securing and further developing the role of our smaller hospitals, including Model 3 hospitals such as Cavan Hospital, with the expansion of services delivered in these hospitals, especially in services such as day surgery; ambulatory care; medical services and diagnostics.

Future investment in Cavan General Hospital will be considered within the overall acute hospital infrastructure programme, the prioritised needs of the hospital groups and within the overall capital envelope available to the health service.

Project Ireland 2040 provides €10.9 billion for Health capital developments across the country, including both national programmes and individual projects, across acute, primary and social care. Health capital projects and programmes currently underway will continue. As to be expected with such a plan, many proposals are at an early stage and will require to progress through appraisal, planning design and tender before a firm timeline or funding required can be established.

The planning and management of future health expenditure is considered as part of the annual estimates and budgetary process which seeks to balance available funding across all service areas to achieve the best possible outcomes for the greatest number of service users and prioritise areas of greatest need.

HIQA Standards

Ceisteanna (30)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

30. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Health if he has agreed a HIQA compliance phased investment programme for 2019 to 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12407/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is the independent regulatory authority charged with ensuring high-quality and safe care for people using our health and social care services in Ireland. The purpose of regulation is to safeguard and support the delivery of person-centred care to vulnerable people of any age who are receiving residential care services and to ensure that their health, well-being and quality of life is promoted and protected. I support the work of HIQA in this regard.

 My Department has no role in the regulation of individual services but continues to liaise closely with HIQA in terms of the broader regulatory framework for the health and social care sector established under the Health Act.

I particularly welcome that all designated centres for people with disabilities are now registered with HIQA indicating that they have met the mandatory standards set by the regulator.

Abortion Services Provision

Question No. 32 answered orally.

Ceisteanna (31)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

31. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the status of the accessibility of termination of pregnancy services including the availability of information materials in different languages and the accessibility of My Options for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11791/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE’s MyOptions service is a free unplanned pregnancy support service for support and information about an unplanned pregnancy.

MyOptions offers non-directive, free counselling and information for people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Information is available about all options, including continued pregnancy supports and abortion services.  

The MyOptions phone line is now providing information and support in over 240 languages through a free and confidential telephone interpretation service. This service is open from 9am to 9pm from Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

When an interpretation service is required, MyOptions arrange for an interpreter to phone a caller back for a three way conversation between the person, a MyOptions counsellor and an interpreter where the interpreter will help the client to speak to a MyOptions counsellor in their own language. This service is free and confidential.

Work is on-going to progress the translation of the MyOptions campaign material into languages specific to women from ethnic minority communities. The translated resource materials will be available from the end of May 2019.

MyOptions also supports Irish Sign Language users with their calls to MyOptions by providing a live video-link to an Irish Sign Language interpreter. Irish Sign Language users can book an appointment with IRIS online. This service is free of charge.

Work has commenced on the introduction of a live chat service on Myoptions.ie and is due to become operational in May 2019.

The MyOptions public awareness campaign is also running across national radio, posters and social media to ensure that those who need the service are aware of the correct details and telephone number.

Question No. 32 answered orally.

Ambulance Service Staff

Ceisteanna (33)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

33. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health the position after a strike (details supplied) by ambulance personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12170/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As we are aware, a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association called the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) has been engaged in Industrial action. 

The PNA state that their industrial action is in connection with the automated deduction of union subscriptions and a refusal by the HSE to engage in negotiations with the PNA or to recognise the PNA as union representatives when representing its ambulance personnel members.

To be clear, NASRA, which is affiliated with the PNA, is a group which is not recognised by the HSE and therefore does not have negotiating rights.  The PNA do not have negotiating rights for ambulance personnel. 

The HSE deducts subscriptions at source for those ambulance staff that are members of SIPTU, FORSA and UNITE.  This is not a legal right but a concession granted to recognised unions.

While it is regrettable that the PNA has taken this action, it is not possible to negotiate with a union which is not recognised as having negotiating rights for ambulance grades.  In saying that, I am keen to see an end to this dispute.  Officials from my Department have met with representatives of the HSE and the management of NAS to explore possible options.  This is a complex, challenging situation however, I remain confident that a solution can and will be found. 

Cancer Screening Programmes

Ceisteanna (34)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

34. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the reason the second Scally report into the cervical cancer scandal is delayed; and when it will be published. [11795/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Following the publication of the Report of the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme on 12 September, Dr Gabriel Scally committed to providing a supplementary report into certain further aspects of the laboratories, such as procurement, quality and accreditation arrangements, and governance structures. The Terms of Reference for this report were published on my Department's website on 26 October 2018.

As outlined in my response to Parliamentary Question number 434 of 25 February 2019, Dr Scally has advised me that the breadth and complexity of the issues involved in the supplementary report require further time for analysis. Dr Scally has also advised that he has found no reason to revise the view taken in his earlier report, that as far as can be ascertained, all the current laboratories have performance which is acceptable in their country. I look forward to receiving Dr Scally's report in the coming weeks, after which I intend to bring the report to Government, arrange for patient representatives to be briefed, and publish it. 

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Question No. 36 answered orally.

Ceisteanna (35)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

35. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a progress report on the construction of the new 50 bed unit in Portiuncula Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12213/19]

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.

Question No. 36 answered orally.

General Practitioner Services Provision

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 28.

Question No. 39 answered orally.

Ceisteanna (37)

John Brassil

Ceist:

37. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the status of the implementation of the multi-annual investment in general practice which he announced in budget 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12201/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to engaging with GP representatives on the development of modernised contractual arrangements. 

Talks between the State and the Irish Medical Organisation resumed in October 2018 are continuing. The focus of the current phase of the talks is on developing a range of modernisation, reform and sustainability measures and the development of a chronic disease programme.

While some progress is being made, there are a number of outstanding issues that need to be progressed before any agreement can be secured.  The State’s negotiating team is keen to bring matters to a conclusion; however, any agreement must substantially benefit patients and provide value for money for the taxpayer.

Agreement on the delivery of service improvements and contractual reform would facilitate a very substantial increase in the resourcing of general practice on a multi annual basis.

In line with the long-established approach to such processes, and by agreement of the parties concerned, I am not in a position to give further details while engagement between the parties is under way.

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 28.
Question No. 39 answered orally.

Respite Care Services Provision

Ceisteanna (40)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

40. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health his plans to provide adequate respite services for adults and children with disabilities in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12216/19]

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 a service matter, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Occupational Therapy Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (41)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

41. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Health the action being taken to reduce the waiting times for occupational therapy in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12206/19]

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.

Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (42)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

42. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Health his plans to reduce the waiting times for persons waiting for ophthalmology services in the County Cork area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12403/19]

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.

Hospital Staff Data

Ceisteanna (43)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

43. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the number of doctors working in hospitals as consultants who are not on the specialist register of the Medical Council; the steps he has taken to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12174/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the up-to-date number of doctors working as consultants who are not on the specialist register of the Medical Council.

With regard to the steps taken to address the issue, the HSE has statutory responsibility in relation to consultant posts. My Department is currently engaged with the HSE in relation to issues relating to consultant recruitment.

The HSE policy in respect of Consultant Appointments, both permanent and temporary, requires that they are on the relevant Specialist Register. This rule is in place since March 2008.  The HSE has put in place a detailed process to manage consultants who are not on the Specialist Register. In July 2017 the HSE issued clear instructions to all hospitals to ensure:

- all consultants not on the Specialist Register are identified, using the National Doctors Training and Planning DIME database;

- that a risk mitigation plan is put in place for each post where the appointee does not hold the relevant qualifications;

- where necessary, this plan should set up access to an appropriate arrangement for senior clinical oversight as required; and

- the Hospital Groups provide an assurance to the appropriate National Service Director that the required relevant supervisory supports are in place for those Consultants not on the Specialist Register.

It is currently pursuing a range of initiatives to improve the recruitment process and to support those who are not on the Specialist Register pursue registration.

Hospital Facilities

Ceisteanna (44)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

44. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health the status of the development of the new diabetes unit at Sligo University Hospital; the contractor that has been appointed; when construction work will commence on the unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11973/19]

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.

Maternity Services

Ceisteanna (45)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

45. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health the status of the roll-out of centres alongside birth centres pursuant to the national maternity strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12078/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Implementation of the National Maternity Strategy - Creating A Better Future Together 2016 - 2026 - is being led by the HSE National Women & Infants Health Programme. I have therefore asked the HSE to reply to you directly in relation to your query on the roll out of Alongside Birth Centres.

Dental Services Provision

Ceisteanna (46)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

46. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health the reason dentistry services for persons with special needs in Connolly Hospital have been cut; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12019/19]

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.

Palliative Care Services Provision

Ceisteanna (47)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

47. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health if palliative care services in County Tipperary are being expanded in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12225/19]

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.

National Children's Hospital Administration

Ceisteanna (48)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

48. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Health if the contract with a contractor (details supplied) has a clause that in circumstances in which construction inflation exceeds 4.5% annually the contractor is entitled to renegotiate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

There are clearly defined procedures around the recovery of excessive tender inflation in relation to the build cost for this project. The Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) procurement process agreed with the contractors requires the contractors to take all risk for quantities following completion of the GMP process, and, as per the contract, limits their recovery of additional costs incurred by them to clearly defined scope changes and in excess of 4% inflation (as per the average of three published tender price indices) which may occur post July 2019. 

The independent review underway into the cost escalation associated with the new children's hospital construction project, as part of its Terms of Reference, will comment on the major residual risks and the robustness/completeness of the current forecasts and, where possible, quantify those risks contractually excluded from the GMP/adjusted contract sum. This independent review is underway, and PwC have recently advised that the report is now expected to be completed by early April.  

Mobility Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (49)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

49. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health his plans to provide a mobility allowance or similar supports to those in receipt of a disability allowance and other related payments. [8113/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Deputy will be familiar with the background to the closure of both the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in February 2013. 

My colleague, the Minister for Health and I brought a Memorandum to Government in May 2018 on proposals for a new Transport Support Payment Scheme.  Following consideration of the matter, it was decided to withdraw the Memorandum from the Cabinet Agenda at the time. I intend to revert to Government in due course with revised proposals to reflect the discussions at that Cabinet meeting and further discussions between myself and Minister Harris on the best way to progress the Transport Scheme.  

It is important to note that the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme operated by the Revenue Commissioners, remains in place. This scheme provides VRT and VAT relief, an exemption from road tax and a fuel grant to drivers and passengers with a disability, who qualify under the relevant criteria set out in governing regulations made by the Minister for Finance. Specifically adapted vehicles driven by persons with a disability are also exempt from payment of tolls on national roads and toll bridges. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has responsibility for this particular scheme.

There are improvements in access to a range of transport support schemes available to persons with disabilities in the State and on-going work is being carried out by Government Departments, agencies and transport providers to further improve access to public transport services. Under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has responsibility for the continued development of accessibility and availability of public transport for people with a disability.

Hospital Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (50)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

50. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health if recruitment has commenced to staff the short-stay ward at Letterkenny University Hospital; the number of staff and the grade of each which have been advertised for the ward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12021/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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. The National Development Plan 2018-2017 provides for the full 2,600 beds over its lifetime.

Over the past 18 months, an additional 241 beds have been opened nationally.

The HSE Winter Plan includes the opening of an additional 75 beds in early 2019, including 5 acute inpatient beds in Letterkenny University Hospital. The plan also seeks to ensure that the health system is as prepared as possible for the increase in demand on services over the winter months, within existing capacity and financial parameters.  

Further to that, the National Service Plan 2019 provides for the preparation of 202 additional beds, to be operational in Q1 2020, including 15 inpatient beds in Letterkenny University Hospital.

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

Voluntary Sector

Ceisteanna (51)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

51. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the way in which he can address the difficulties being faced by voluntary organisations providing home care (details supplied); and the way in which similar difficulties have been resolved in other areas. [11793/19]

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.