Drugs Payment Scheme

Ceisteanna (1205)

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

1205. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health when an application for renewal of eligibility under the drugs payment scheme will be expedited on behalf of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32048/19]

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.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Coverage

Ceisteanna (1206)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

1206. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health if a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32049/19]

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.

Home Care Packages Provision

Ceisteanna (1207)

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

1207. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health if a home care package for a person (details supplied) will be reviewed with a view to an increase in the 12-hour allocation and for it to be spread over seven days to include the weekend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32057/19]

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 Charges

Ceisteanna (1208, 1475)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1208. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to remove inpatient charges for cancer patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32101/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

1475. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the measures he is taking in Budget 2020 to reduce charges for cancer patients; the estimated cost of removing inpatient charges for cancer patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33135/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1208 and 1475 together.

The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides that all people ordinarily resident in the country are entitled, subject to certain charges, to public in-patient hospital services including consultant services and to public out-patient hospital services. Under the Health (Amendment) Act 2013, a person who has been referred to a hospital for an in-patient service, including that provided on a day case basis, will have to pay the statutory daily charge, currently €80 per day, up to a maximum of €800 per year. Such charges do not apply to medical card holders.

On this basis, where treatment for cancer is classed as a day case procedure and is not carried out in an out-patient setting, the public in-patient charge applies.

Drugs Payment Scheme Threshold

Ceisteanna (1209)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1209. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to reduce the drugs payment scheme threshold for families in which a member of the family has been diagnosed with cancer and for single persons with a cancer diagnosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32102/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) is a non-means-tested scheme which is open to any person who is ordinarily resident in the State, regardless of illness.

Under the scheme, no individual or family pays more than €124 a month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals with ongoing expenditure on medicines.

The Programme for Partnership Government contains a commitment to reduce the cost of medicines. In line with this commitment, I announced a reduction in the DPS threshold, from €134 to €124 a month, as part of Budget 2019 and this reduction was implemented on 1 April 2019.

I intend to consider further proposals for reductions in the DPS threshold, in the context of the implementation of the health commitments in the Programme for Government and with regard to the funding available.

Prescriptions Charges

Ceisteanna (1210)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1210. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to remove the prescription charge for persons with a cancer diagnosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32103/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Programme for Partnership Government contains a commitment to reduce the cost of medicines by reducing the prescription charge for medical card holders.

In line with this commitment, in Budget 2019 I announced a reduction in the prescription charge to €1.50, subject to a monthly cap of €15, for all medical card holders over the age of 70. This reduction came into effect on 1 April 2019.

This announcement follows on from my commitment in last year's Budget, where I reduced the prescription charge to €2 for all medical card holders aged under 70. 

I intend to consider further proposals for reductions in the prescription charge for medical card holders, in the context of the implementation of the health commitments in the Programme for Government and with regard to the funding available.

Hospitals Car Park Charges

Ceisteanna (1211, 1477)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1211. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to introducing the reduced car parking charges for cancer patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32104/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

1477. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the measures he is taking in Budget 2020 to reduce charges for cancer patients; the position regarding the provision of reduced hospital parking charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33138/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1211 and 1477 together.

I am advised by the HSE that it does not currently provide guidelines on hospital car parking. Each hospital, or hospital group, implements its own guidelines. I am aware that hospitals that charge parking fees are very cognisant of the financial implications of parking costs for patients and their families, particularly for those with long-term illnesses. Consequently, some hospitals have introduced a maximum daily fixed parking charge.

Some hospitals provide reduced car parking fees for patients with cancer who are attending for long-term treatment. However, there are many conditions which can require long-term care and it is difficult to prioritise one over another.

I have made it clear that I want to see progress made in this area and I am working with my Department and the HSE in this regard. In March 2018, I requested the HSE to conduct a review of hospital car parking charges with a view to establishing clear national guidelines in the area. The HSE is currently liaising with hospital groups nationally to develop an implementation plan, which will be submitted shortly, to accompany the review report. My Department will then consider the implementation plan in collaboration with the HSE as part of the annual service planning process.

National Cancer Strategy Implementation

Ceisteanna (1212)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1212. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health the national cancer strategy key performance indicators which have been met to date; the other indicators being prioritised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32105/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The report linked below shows the degree to which the key performance indicators of the National Cancer Strategy were being met at the end of 2018. This information was provided as part of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 Implementation Report 2018, which can be viewed in full on my Department's website.

National Cancer Strategy

Cancer Services Provision

Ceisteanna (1213)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1213. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to completely centralise cancer surgery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32106/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Centralisation of surgical oncology is based on clear evidence that patients who are operated on by surgeons who carry out higher volumes of surgery in specialist centres, which themselves have high volumes, achieve better outcomes. I recently approved detailed proposals prepared by the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) for the further centralisation of surgical oncology.

Implementation of the proposals is now being progressed by the NCCP, working with the Hospital Groups.

Cancer Services Provision

Ceisteanna (1214)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1214. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to ensure that general practitioners treating cancer patients have direct access to diagnostics and are enabled to make e-referrals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32107/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Expanding electronic referrals for all GP cancer referrals, and ensuring that GPs have direct access to diagnostic for patients meeting referral criteria over the coming years are included as key performance indicators in the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026.

Electronic referral pathways are in place for GPs to refer patients to rapid access clinics, where they have findings suggestive of breast, prostate or lung cancer. The proportion of these referrals sent electronically in 2018 was as follows:

- Breast 75%

- Prostate 79%

- Lung 39%

Overall electronic cancer referral rate as a percentage of attendances at rapid access clinics for breast, prostate and lung cancer in 2018 was 72.1%.

The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) is working (with eHealth Ireland/Access2Information and the GPIT group of the Irish College of General Practitioners) with the aim of increasing the availability and uptake of electronic referral.

More recently the HSE Endoscopy Programme has developed a GP electronic referral  process for colonoscopy which is now being rolled out.

Work on addressing the challenges for GPs in direct access to radiological investigations, particularly ultrasound and CT, is also being undertaken by the HSE in conjunction with the Irish College of General Practitioners and the HSE Radiology Clinical Programme.

Cancer Services Provision

Ceisteanna (1215)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1215. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to implement a skin cancer prevention action plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32108/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022 is an action arising out of the National Cancer Strategy.  I launched this important plan with Minister Simon Harris on 27th May.

The plan was developed by the Department of Health in conjunction with the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and key stakeholders including other Government Departments and national organisations representing priority groups, including the Irish Cancer Society, Marie Keating Foundation, the Irish Skin Foundation and Breakthrough Cancer Research.

The plan focuses on awareness of skin cancer prevention and has identified the priority groups as children, outdoor workers, those who participate in outdoor leisure activities and sunbed users.

An implementation group to oversee the implementation of the plan will be established in the coming weeks.

Medical Conditions

Ceisteanna (1216)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1216. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health the amount to be allocated to counties Laois and Offaly in respect of services for persons with lymphoedema; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32109/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Deputy's question relates to service delivery matters and accordingly I have asked the HSE to respond directly to her.

Medical Conditions

Ceisteanna (1217)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1217. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to make funding available to an organisation (details supplied) in County Laois which assists patients with lymphoedema; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32110/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I am familiar with the services provided to those affected by cancer through this organisation.  Indeed, I recently met with representatives of the organisation, together with representatives of the HSE Community Health Organisation for Laois/Offaly (CHO 8), to discuss their work, the funding provided through CHO 8 and their future plans.

The possibility of further funding through the Community Health Organisation will be considered in the context of the budget process for 2020.

Home Care Packages Provision

Ceisteanna (1218)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

1218. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health when a homecare package will be made available in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32128/19]

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 Overcrowding

Ceisteanna (1219)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

1219. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health if the circumstances will be investigated in relation to the experience of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32132/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I wish to acknowledge the distress overcrowded Emergency Departments cause to patients, their families, and frontline staff working in very challenging conditions in hospitals throughout the country.

My Department is engaging extensively with the HSE this year to identify mitigating actions to bring down trolley numbers and waiting times in the ED in the face of growing demand.

University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has one of the busiest EDs in the country. Despite an overall 4.7% reduction in the numbers of patients waiting on trolleys nationally in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, UHL has seen a 14% increase.

UHL was identified as one of the nine focus sites requiring additional investment, focus, and support during the winter period 2018/2019. An independent expert review of unscheduled care performance in EDs over the winter period is now under way, and this will include UHL, as one of the nine focus sites in the Winter Plan.  While any final outputs, analysis, or recommendations of this review will be presented to the HSE and to my Department in due course, it is expected that preliminary findings will be considered in the context of planning for winter 2019/2020.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

National Dementia Strategy

Ceisteanna (1220)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

1220. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health if €18 million in funding will be allocated to a society (details supplied) in budget 2020 towards supports and community care for patients with dementia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32147/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The aim of the National Dementia Strategy, which was published in December 2014 and is being implemented by the National Dementia Office, is to improve care, services and supports for people with dementia.

The HSE currently provides approximately €9 million per annum for intensive home care packages, including €7.9 million for dementia-specific packages. Since the packages were introduced at the end of 2014, 443 dementia-specific intensive homecare packages have been delivered, with 201 active at the end of March 2019.

A total of €426 million has been allocated for home support services this year, which will also benefit people with dementia.  It is expected that over 17.9 million home support hours will be delivered to over 53,000 people this year.

The HSE provides in the region of €12 million in annual funding to a range of organisations who deliver dementia-specific respite, home care, day care, cognitive stimulation therapy, social clubs and supports for family carers around the country.

In addition, the HSE provides €400,000 per annum in support for the Dementia Adviser Service, which spans 12 counties and is operated by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. This funding supports 7 of the 9 dementia adviser posts delivering the service.

The level of funding available for the Department of Health in 2020 and the quantum of services to be provided by the HSE, including supports and community care for people with dementia, will be considered as part of the national Estimates and budgetary process and National Service Planning.

Protected Disclosures

Ceisteanna (1221, 1224)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

1221. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a protected disclosure submitted to him in respect of a hospice (details supplied); the actions taken in respect of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32162/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

1224. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health if he will commission an independent inquiry into the manner in which a hospice (details supplied) has disciplined employees that had previously submitted protected disclosures to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32165/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1221 and 1224 together.

All protected disclosures received by the Department of Health are given due attention in keeping with the Department's policies and procedures in accordance with the Act. Given that all such disclosures must be treated as confidential it would not be appropriate for me to comment further.

HSE Staff

Ceisteanna (1222)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

1222. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a recent survey that suggested large numbers of employees in the HSE suffer from bullying; his plans to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32163/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter. It has a range of policies and procedures aimed at supporting staff welfare, including its Dignity at Work Policy.

I am aware of the survey and that the HSE's National HR Division is currently focused on addressing bullying within the organisation. An organisation-wide Anti-Bullying Task Force has been established and an Anti-Bullying Awareness Day was held on February 28. It also held a symposium on 'Addressing Bullying at Work' on that date. It is running a series of communication campaigns under the theme 'cutitout' and is actively promoting anti-bullying practices. A Working Group established in conjunction with the IMO has been focused on issues relating to bullying of NCHDs and this Group will report shortly.

Protected Disclosures Data

Question No. 1224 answered with Question No. 1221.

Ceisteanna (1223)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

1223. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health the number of protected disclosures submitted to his Department by year since 2010; the number accepted; and the number from employees in the HSE or other health-related services. [32164/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 requires each public body to publish an annual report setting out the number of protected disclosures received in the preceding year and the action taken (if any). All annual reports for my Department are published on our website and can be found at: https://health.gov.ie/contact-us/protected-disclosures/ - these set out the number of protected disclosures received in each year.

Since the legislation was introduced in 2014 and covering the period 1 July 2014 to 31 December 2018, a total of 60 protected disclosures were submitted to my Department. All were made under Section 6 or Section 8 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. This means the disclosures were not from employees of my Department and instead related to a worker or workers employed in a public body under my Department's remit.

Nineteen of the disclosures, when assessed, did not meet the criteria as set out under the Act.

Question No. 1224 answered with Question No. 1221.

Diabetes Strategy

Ceisteanna (1225)

James Browne

Ceist:

1225. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the number of patients in counties Wexford and Waterford awaiting diabetes pump training at hospitals; the number of posts approved and posts filled for diabetes nurse specialists in CHO 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32173/19]

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 as soon as possible.

Health Services Funding

Ceisteanna (1226)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

1226. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the budget allocated for fundraising in a hospice (details supplied); his views on same; the amounts paid to staff involved in fundraising activity; if this funding is provided by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32199/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As governance issues are a matter for the Health Service Executive in the context of its service arrangements with the organisation referred to by the Deputy, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

National Cervical Screening Programme Data

Ceisteanna (1227)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

1227. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health further to recent comments he made in Dáil Éireann and at committee hearings, when information previously requested on the CervicalCheck crisis and the false negative slides currently under review, that is, a breakdown of the number of false negative slides per laboratory and the locations of the laboratories, will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32200/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy will be aware from previous responses on this issue, the HSE has advised that analysis was required in order to make the requested data available.

The requirement for analysis reflected the complexities involved in this work. For example, some women may have had multiple smears, not necessarily read in the same lab; slides may have changed by one grade or multiple grades, which is a complexity that would not be shown by a simple breakdown across labs; labs dealt with different regional populations; and in the early years of the programme it was dealing with an unscreened population, which is a further complexity.

The HSE has advised that this work is now nearing completion and the HSE is engaging with patient representatives in the finalisation of the report.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Ceisteanna (1228)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

1228. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Health the average waiting time for fair deal approval for each of the months January to June 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32205/19]

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.

Respite Care Services Provision

Ceisteanna (1229)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

1229. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Health the average waiting time for respite approval for each of the months January to June 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32206/19]

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.