Medical Workforce Data

Ceisteanna (307)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

307. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if he has received the Murray report on medical recruitment; if he will publish same without further delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30390/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Director General of the HSE wrote to my Department on 13 May in response to requests that I and the Secretary General had made asking that the HSE address medical recruitment challenges, including issues raised by Justice Kelly concerning the appointment of doctors not on the Specialist Register to consultant posts.

The covering letter from the Director General confirmed the HSE's recognition of all aspects of medical recruitment and retention as a potential patient safety issue and its commitment to put a governance framework in place to deliver improvements in this area. It advised that the HSE is developing terms of reference for a Medical Workforce and Patient Safety Oversight Group supported by a project team to agree and oversee implementation of actions in relation to the following priority areas:

- Doctors employed by the HSE who are not on the Specialist Register,

- Non-Training Scheme NCHDs

- The recruitment process for NCHDs

- The recruitment process for consultants

- Retention of consultants and NCHDs, and

- The configuration of services that will best support the recruitment and retention of consultants and NCHDs , facilitate their training requirements and other needs.

The correspondence included a number of appendices, one of which was the Report of the NDTP Project Team on the Employment of Consultants Not Registered in the Specialist Division of the Register of Medical Practitioners. The Report highlights the work in train to address the position of those appointed to posts though not on the specialist register and the supervisory arrangements that are to be followed in such cases. It also addresses the issue of supporting such consultants to achieve specialist registration. The main attachment to the letter and other appendices addressed corporate governance and risk management arrangements.

The covering letter also advised that a further report on issues relating to NCHD recruitment, including the robustness of the appointment process is due to be completed in the coming months. The HSE has already issued directions to prospective employers of NCHDs highlighting the need to ensure that only properly qualified and competent doctors are recruited.

The position in relation to the Report referred to by the Deputy therefore is that it is currently receiving consideration as part of the broader submission.

Hospital Beds Data

Ceisteanna (308)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

308. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Health if 16 newly commissioned beds opened in the Sacred Heart hospital, Castlebar, County Mayo in 2019; the total bed capacity provided by same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30391/19]

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 Reports

Ceisteanna (309)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

309. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health if each community healthcare organisation and hospital group published operational plans for 2019; and if so, if they have been published on the Health Service Executive website. [30404/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the publication of each CHO and Hospital Group 2019 operational plan is a matter for the HSE, the question has been referred to the HSE for a direct response to the Deputy. 

Health Services Reports

Ceisteanna (310)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

310. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the progress made to date in the implementation of the 45 recommendations of the trauma steering group in tabular form. [30405/19]

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.

Health Services Reports

Ceisteanna (311)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

311. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the progress made to date in the implementation of the recommendations of the Scally report in tabular form. [30406/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Last September, Government accepted all 50 of the recommendations that were set out in Dr Scally’s Final Report into CervicalCheck and an implementation plan was approved by Government on 11 December 2018. The implementation plan is available at the following link: https://health.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/ScopingInquiryImplementationRevisedMasterplanMay-2019FinalSubmitted.pdf. Work is ongoing in the Department of Health, the HSE and the National Cancer Registry of Ireland on the range of actions within the Plan.

Dr Scally carried out a review of the implementation plan at the request of the Minister, and affirmed that the Implementation Plan is a comprehensive response to his report and that considers significant effort and resources are being committed to addressing the problems he identified.

Dr Scally also acknowledged in his Supplementary Report (published on 11 June 2019) that substantial and important progress has been made in implementing his recommendations to date. A progress report against the Implementation Plan for Quarter 1 2019 is published on the Department of Health website and is available at the following link:

https://health.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Implementation-Quarterly-Progress-Report-Q1.pdf

It shows that, as of the end of Q1 2019, there were 161 actions arising from the 56 recommendations. 48 of these actions were completed and 82 actions were in progress. Some key areas of progress to date include:

- The HSE Board has now been established following the passage of the Bill and the first meeting of the Board, chaired by Mr Ciaran Devane, took place on 28 June;

- The Chair of the National Screening Committee has been appointed and it is intended that the inaugural meeting of the Committee will be held in Q3. The Committee will be an expert advisory committee responsible for considering population screening programmes in Ireland against internationally accepted criteria;

- Following the publication of the Crowe Horwath Report on the Role, Training and Career Structures of Public Health Physicians in Ireland in December, an Implementation Oversight Group has been established to oversee the implementation of a new model of public health medicine;

- I have approved the terms of reference and proposed membership for the new Independent Patient Safety Council. A process is underway to appoint the chair and hold the first meeting of the Council;

- The HSE published a revised interim open disclosure policy in June, pending a more detailed review, which will follow the outcome of the work to be undertaken by the new Independent Patient Safety Council;

- Expert groups have been established within National Screening Service to review clinical audit processes for interval cancers across all screening programmes;

- A new Quality Safety & Risk Committee with an independent chairperson was established in the National Screening Service in October 2018 and a Quality, Safety & Risk Manager has been appointed to NSS;

- A new Clinical Director for the CervicalCheck Programme has been appointed in addition to a new National Laboratory Quality Assurance Lead. A Director of Public Health for the NSS has also been appointed;

- The Director of Public Health in the NSS is establishing a quality improvement project across all programmes in order to adopt a formal quality assurance risk management approach.

The Supplementary Report makes two further recommendations, which have been accepted. Actions to implement these recommendations will be incorporated into the existing Implementation Plan for all of the Scoping Inquiry recommendations.

Chronic Disease Management Programme

Ceisteanna (312)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

312. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health if the Health Service Executive has completed reviews of the existing approved models of care for four chronic diseases (details supplied); and if a service gap analysis has been conducted. [30407/19]

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 Charges

Ceisteanna (313)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

313. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 187 of 4 July 2019, when the review of the basis for existing hospital and medication charges to be carried out under commitments given in the Sláintecare implementation strategy will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30408/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The vision of Sláintecare is to achieve a universal single-tier health and social care system where everyone has equitable access to services based on need and not ability to pay.  In its report, the Houses of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare called for a universal health system accessible to all on the basis of need, free at the point of delivery (or at the lowest possible cost) . Over time, the vision is that everyone will have entitlement to a comprehensive range of primary, acute and social care services at no cost or at a substantially reduced cost and that the vast majority of this care will be provided in primary and community settings.

Within the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy, Strategic Action 6 aims to expand eligibility on a phased basis to move towards universal healthcare and support a shift to community-based care.  The vision is that all citizens will have universal access to healthcare, in both the acute and community settings.  In order to achieve this goal, there will need to be an expansion in eligibility, particularly for primary and community care.  Although there is wide-ranging agreement that Ireland should move in the direction of a universal single-tier health service, there is also widespread acknowledgement that this goal presents a number of challenges.

As detailed in the Sláintecare Action Plan for 2019, the department is currently reviewing the basis for existing hospital and medication charges and it is anticipated that the review will be finalised shortly. By the end of 2019, the Department will seek to develop options for future changes to hospital and medication charges and develop policy options for achieving universal eligibility.

Health Services Staff Data

Ceisteanna (314)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

314. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the number of public health nurses employed throughout the public health sector; the number of vacancies that exist; the number recruited to date in 2019; the number required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30465/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Electricity Grid

Ceisteanna (315)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

315. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the export of surplus power to the national grid by members of the farming community; and if the necessary new paperwork is in place (details supplied). [30159/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The suite of investments eligible for grant aid under TAMS II has recently been extended to include on-farm solar PV and battery storage facilities. The focus of TAMS II is on the provision of grant aid for on-farm investments and the electricity generated is intended for consumption on the farm enterprise.

Wider energy policy including issues regarding the export of power to the national grid are a matter for my colleague the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (316)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

316. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will discuss with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment measures to ensure that assistance is given to the farming community to achieve the targets for climate change action 2020. [30148/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is actively engaged as part of the whole of Government approach to transitioning to a low-carbon, competitive, sustainable and climate resilient economy and society.

The recently launched ‘All-of-Government Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown’ is a collaborative approach that sets out the vision and pathway to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and meet our 2030 EU targets. The contribution from the agriculture sector to this national ambition is significant.

However, agriculture cannot stand in isolation on this matter and will continue to work with all stakeholders including the Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment to continue to examine and deliver the best means of encouraging sustainable food production, while optimising the sectors contribution to greenhouse gas mitigation, sequestration and displacement of fossil fuels. The targets set in this climate action plan for the sector are ambitious and challenging and will require early and extensive adoption of mitigation measures.

The approach of my Department is to focus on improving the emissions intensity of Irish production through the deployment of innovative and efficient practices at farm level combined with the practical application of emerging scientific knowledge. The Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) supports capital investment in a number of target areas which will promote, among other things, sustainability (e.g. low emissions slurry spreading equipment, farm nutrient storage, and renewable energy and energy efficiency). I recently made €10 million available for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, following a comprehensive review of TAMS designed to increase its focus on sustainability. Eligible investments include extension of support for Solar PV Installation to all sectors and support for LED Lighting as the only form of lighting to be grant aided. In addition, other energy efficiency measures such as biomass boilers and water heating continue to be eligible investment items under TAMS.

Recently, my colleague Richard Bruton, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment opened the second phase of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH), an operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems for applications. Details of this scheme including the tariffs that apply are available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's website at the following link: https://www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/support-scheme-renewable-/.

My Department continues to work at building this consensus around the need for the agriculture sector to make a positive contribution to the climate change debate and I will continue to engage extensively and work in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders in this regard.

I am confident the agricultural sector as a whole will meet this challenge and contribute significantly to Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy and society, with collaboration, co-operation and collective responsibility being key in achieving this ambition and realising the potential of pro-active engagement.

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (317)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

317. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a forestry licence application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30164/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

All forestry licence applications undergo a comprehensive vetting process to ensure that, inter alia, the landscape, environment and our archaeological heritage are protected. Every application is treated on its own merits and is examined with regard to its effect, if any, on its surroundings.

In this particular case, there has been detailed correspondence with the registered forester and a Natura Impact Assessment was submitted to the Department on 16th April, 2019. This has been referred to the Department's ecologist for assessment and a decision on the application will issue when all environmental and other considerations have been considered in full.