Medical Conditions

Questions Nos. 143 and 144 answered with Question No. 138.

Ceisteanna (142)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

142. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health his plans to address the lack of specialist consultants for myalgic encephalomyelitis patients; if the HSE will recognise ME as a multi-system disease with many debilitating symptoms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22167/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) / myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy) (ME) is a not uncommon, complex debilitating disorder which is characterised by severe fatigue accompanied by a range of other symptoms.

There is currently no known, specific, medical diagnostic test to determine or confirm a correct diagnosis of ME and no specific treatment which works for all sufferers is currently available. Assessment and interventions need to be tailored to the individual. There are assessments/tests which can be carried out in primary care settings by a General Practitioner. Specialised tests may be required when considering differential diagnoses.

Treatment for ME is tailored to address the varying symptoms presented by those affected by ME. In general, these treatments are delivered within the context of primary care, with referrals into secondary care for specialist interventions in the areas of Neurology, Rheumatology, Pain Specialists, Endocrinology, Immunology, Cardiology, etc. The challenge in relation to ME is that it does not sit within one specialty, but crosses a number of specialties, with patients attending different Consultants for management of symptoms as they arise.

I acknowledge waiting times for access to these services needs to be reduced. There is currently work under way as part of the implementation of the Strategy for the Design of Integrated Outpatient Services 2016-2020, specifically as regards addressing how and where the patient is treated and the classification of referrals with corresponding clinically recommended time-frames. Consideration is also being given to condition specific referral forms. This work should see significant improvements with respect to access to appropriate services.

 I have also asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you on this matter.

Questions Nos. 143 and 144 answered with Question No. 138.

Medical Aids and Appliances Applications Data

Ceisteanna (145)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

145. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the number of children in the Cork Kerry CHO4 area awaiting an appliance by six monthly wait intervals in tabular form; the details of the different types of appliances including, for example, a specialised wheelchair, hoist, shower chair and orthotics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22171/19]

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.

Health Services Reports

Ceisteanna (146)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

146. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health when a report (details supplied) on removing private practice from public hospitals will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22175/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Report of the Independent Review Group established to examine private activity in public hospitals has been received and is being examined in my Department. It is a comprehensive examination of private activity in public hospitals and contains a small number of recommendations. When the recommendations have been examined and considered in my Department and by other relevant Government Departments, it is intended to bring proposals to Government and to publish the Report thereafter.

Disabilities Assessments

Ceisteanna (147)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

147. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the waiting lists for assessments of needs under the Disability Act 2005 by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22178/19]

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.

Disabilities Assessments

Ceisteanna (148)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

148. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if assessments of needs under the Disability Act 2005 are dealt with on a national chronological order or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22179/19]

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.

Hospital Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (149)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

149. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Health the position regarding staffing positions at University Hospital Waterford (details supplied); when the positions will be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22189/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (150)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

150. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the additional health service resources that will be required for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. [22191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As Minister of State for Disabilities I was pleased to ratify the UNCRPD for Ireland in April of last year, 2018.  The Convention provides that people with disabilities should have the same rights as everyone else and should be provided with the practical supports to make that aspiration a reality.

It requires us to change our approach to services for people with disabilities by putting the person’s civil and human rights first and putting the resources in place to that end. Ratifying the Convention offers us an opportunity to reassess our attitudes to people with disabilities and to place a renewed focus on their place in society, to rebalance the right of people with disabilities to make decisions for themselves, rather than have decisions made for them. The Optional Protocol will be ratified following the completion of the first reporting cycle under the Convention, which I am informed by my officials in the Department of Justice and Equality will be in the next two years or so.

In the context of health services, this year we will spend some €1.9bn on services for people with a disability. We will continue to improve services and increase supports for people with disabilities, with a particular focus on supports at key transition points such as going to school, progressing to further training or education, or moving into a new home.

In 2019 our disability health services will provide residential services to around 8,500 people with disabilities at approximately 1,100 locations. We now have less than 2,200 people with a disability living in congregated settings. A further 160 people are expected to move to community living in 2019, as we prioritise the moving of people from old style institutions into modern community living homes. An extra €10m provided last year has delivered 12 new dedicated respite houses, and the provision of alternative respite services to over 2,000 children and adults.

This year, the HSE expects to provide over 182,000 respite nights and 32,662 respite day sessions. 1.63m PA hours for 2,535 people and just under 3.08m home support hours for 8,094 people.

The HSE also expects to provide 90 new residential emergency places and day service supports for at least 1,500 young people leaving school/rehab training. 100 additional therapy posts were secured as part of Budget 2019, and these will be used to address delays in conducting Assessments of Need.

In addition, the Department of Health is continuing to progress Heads of Bill to provide legislative clarity and procedural safeguards in regard to deprivation of liberty.  In developing its approach, the Department is aiming to strike the right balance between providing the appropriate levels of protection for individuals on the one hand and ensuring that the approach is practical and workable on the other.  

The Department continues to address a number of complex legal and policy issues which have arisen during the drafting process and every effort is being made to progress this legislation as quickly as possible.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Ceisteanna (151)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

151. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health when he expects the practice of admitting children and young persons to adult mental health units to cease. [22192/19]

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.

Home Help Service Data

Ceisteanna (152)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

152. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the number of extra home help hours that were provided in 2018 relative to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22193/19]

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.

Health Services Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (153)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

153. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health if he will report on recruitment initiatives in CH07, particularly in lakeview unit, Naas Hospital and CAMHS in Kildare town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22194/19]

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.

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (154)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

154. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health his plans to promote an increased uptake of the flu vaccine across all categories of persons and not only those deemed at risk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22195/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

The influenza vaccine is most effective when circulating viruses are well-matched with viruses contained in vaccines.  Due to the constant evolving nature of influenza viruses, the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System – a system of National Influenza Centres and WHO Collaborating Centres around the world – continuously monitors the influenza viruses circulating in humans and updates the composition of influenza vaccines twice a year.  These recommendations are used by national vaccine regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies to develop, produce and license influenza vaccines.  

The influenza vaccine purchased by the HSE is based on WHO advice.  Composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the northern hemisphere during the flu season is given for both quadrivalent and trivalent vaccines.  Trivalent influenza vaccines contain two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus, which have been offered to individuals in Ireland who are 65 years of age or older, those with long-term medical conditions, healthcare professionals and pregnant women.  The trivalent vaccine used in Ireland during the 2018/19 influenza season is the most widely used influenza vaccine in Europe.  It also provides good protection against the influenza A strain viruses that are circulating this season as most hospitalisations are associated with influenza A.  It is expected that approximately one million people in Ireland will have received the trivalent vaccine during the 2018/19 influenza season.

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

The WHO announced on 21 February 2019 its recommendation for the composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2019/20 northern hemisphere influenza season for the quadrivalent vaccine.  The WHO recommends that egg based quadrivalent vaccines for use in the 2019/20 northern hemisphere influenza season contain the following virus strains:

- an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;

- an A/Kansas/14/2017 (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).

* The A(H3N2) component was recommended by the WHO on 21 March 2019.

The HSE National Immunisation Office and HSE Procurement are responsible for the purchase of influenza vaccines each year.  To ensure adequate vaccine supply, a tender process must be completed 9 months in advance of the first delivery into Ireland (which occurs at the end of August).  The procurement process for the 2019/20 influenza vaccine season has already taken place with a decision to purchase the quadrivalent influenza vaccine only for the 2019/20 season.  The effect of this decision is that all persons requiring influenza vaccines in 2019/20 will receive the quadrivalent vaccine.  Quadrivalent vaccines include a 2nd influenza B virus in addition to the 2 influenza A viruses found in trivalent vaccines.  The provision of a quadrivalent vaccine during the next influenza season will offer a substantially greater level of protection to the population when compared to the trivalent vaccine provided in recent years.

Treatment Benefit Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (155)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

155. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the number of persons from County Kildare that have applied for the treatment abroad scheme in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22196/19]

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 (156)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

156. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health his plans to retain and recruit frontline staff in the health services, including nurses; the number of nursing staff needed in public national hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22197/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Ceisteanna (157)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

157. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the updated timeframe for the refurbishment of the HSE owned day care centre on Drogheda Street, Monasterevin, County Kildare further to the appointment of the design team for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22198/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Medical Card Appeals

Ceisteanna (158)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

158. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22209/19]

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.

Cannabis for Medicinal Use

Ceisteanna (159)

Michael Harty

Ceist:

159. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Health the barriers to the introduction of the access programme for medicinal cannabis; when the access programme will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22218/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Good progress is being made in establishing the Medical Cannabis Access Programme:

1. clinical guidelines have been drawn up and published,

2. secondary legislation is being drafted,

3. cannabis products for use under the Programme, once reviewed as suitable for medical use, will be published on an ‘approved list’.

The Programme aims to facilitate access to certain ‘acceptable’ cannabis products which have not been authorised as medicines by a statutory Medicines Competent Authority. Such products are not subject to the same rigorous safety, quality and efficacy standards that are in place for medicines, nor are the producers subject to the same responsibilities as the marketing authorisation holders for authorised medicines.

Availability of cannabis products that are of an appropriate quality standard and are affordable to patients is critical in establishing the access programme. Officials in my department are working intensively on finding solutions to the supply of appropriate products for Irish patients.

In the meantime it is open to a medical practitioner wishing to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes for an individual patient under their care, to apply to the Minister for Health for a licence, under Section 14 of The Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2016 and the Regulations made thereunder.

It should be noted that it is the decision of the clinician, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe or not prescribe a particular treatment for a patient under their care.

The Department of Health website contains detailed information on medical cannabis, including clinical guidance on the use of medical cannabis. It is continuously updated.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (160)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

160. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) can expect to receive a mammogram at University Hospital Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22229/19]

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.