Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (126)

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

126. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in direct provision centres; his plans to review and reform the asylum process with a view to extending the right to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37783/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department is responsible for offering accommodation and related services to international protection applicants while their claim for protection is being examined. As of 8 September 2019, 7,306 persons were being provided with accommodation by my Department. Currently, there are 6,056 persons residing in the 38 accommodation centres located nationwide. As the centres are at full capacity, there are also a further 1,250 applicants residing in 33 emergency accommodation locations in hotels and guest houses. 

In terms of the right to work, holders of a labour market access permission already have a very broad and generous access to employment and self-employment. Eligible applicants have access to all sectors of employment, with the exception of the Civil and Public Service, An Garda Síochána, the Irish Defence Forces and Embassies or consulates accredited to the State. The exclusion of these employments is largely due to their requirement for long-term residence in the State or EU/EEA citizenship. There is no minimum or maximum salary threshold associated with the permission, no language requirement/assessment, and no evidence of a job offer is required before a permission is granted. There is no restriction with regard to temporary or permanent jobs, nor to full-time or part-time work.

The Government is committed to reducing the time that it takes to process applications for international protection. This is to ensure that we can identify at the earliest possible stage those who are in need of our protection and those who can safely return to their country of origin.

We provide access to the labour market if a person is waiting more than nine months without a first instance recommendation on their application. This is in full compliance with the provisions of the current EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive.  Where a person does not have clarity on their status in the State within this period, it is reasonable to allow them to access the labour market. 

A High Level Interdepartmental Group has been established in my Department, chaired by one of our Deputy Secretary Generals, to review the Direct Provision system in its entirety, including the interaction between labour market participation and the Direct Provision system. We are mapping a plan for immediate improvements and for medium to long-term transitional change. 

Last month, we published agreed National Standards for accommodation centres. The Standards will apply to all service providers contracted by the Department to operate and manage accommodation centres. They provide a framework for the continued development of services and supports for residents by improving the quality of care and ensuring consistency across the centres.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (127)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

127. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procurement processes used in the procurement of commercial direct provision centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37799/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department currently has two separate ongoing procurement processes to identify and contract with privately owned properties for the provision of accommodation and ancillary services to persons seeking international protection – an expressions of interest process to meet immediate short-term demand and a full tender process to meet medium to long-term demand.

The expressions of interest process is advertised in the national media and seeks suitable premises on usually a one year contract. Any property offered to the Department under this process is inspected by an official to determine if it is suitable for the Department’s short-term needs.

The tender process, which is conducted through the government’s procurement portal www.etenders.gov.ie is a more in-depth process where bids are invited on a regional basis to meet a specification designed by the Department to deliver independent living for applicants in appropriate and safe surroundings. This process can take up to 5 months to go through the design, advertisement and evaluation stages. Following evaluation, bidders are advised whether they have been successful in being placed on a framework from which the Department can draw down accommodation, as required. Successful bidders have a further 16 weeks to complete all mobilisation works as set out in their tender bid before it becomes operational as an accommodation centre.

I am advised that, to date, the following regional competitions have progressed through the evaluation stage and are in the mobilisation phase; the South East, Midlands and the MidWest Regions. Evaluation is underway for the South West and Western Regions. The closing date for bids for the Mid East Region was the 16th September and evaluation will commence shortly. Advertisements for bids for the Dublin and Borders Regions are scheduled to be published by the end of this month.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (128)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

128. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the procurement process for direct provision services in the western region has concluded; if so, the details of the successful bidder; if not, when it will conclude; when the successful bidder will be announced; the number of applications received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37819/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the State has a legal obligation to offer accommodation, food, a range of other services (including utilities, healthcare etc.) and a weekly allowance to any person who claims a right to international protection in Ireland while their legal claim is being examined.

The number of applications for international protection has been steadily increasing and is up by 36% since the start of the year. To meet the associated increased demand for accommodation, my Department has initiated two processes to source additional accommodation. It has sought expressions of interest from parties who would be interested in providing accommodation and related services to people in the international protection process and has also launched a nationwide, regional tendering process.

Following the most recent tender process, an evaluation of offers is underway. I am advised that no decision has been taken as yet in relation to accommodation in the Western region for which eight bids were received. Therefore it would be inappropriate for me to comment further while the evaluation process is ongoing.  When the evaluation and other commercially sensitive aspects of the process are completed, the Department will begin engagement with local communities and their political representatives.  I am not in a position at present to say when the evaluation process will conclude.

I appreciate that local communities have many questions when they hear that a centre may be opening in their area. We already have a network of 38 centres across 18 counties. In all cases, there is positive engagement between residents and local communities including through the Friends of the Centre Groups. These Groups promote integration across the communities and are a valuable support to residents and to centre managers and staff.

In terms of local services and supports, once it is confirmed that an accommodation centre is opening in an area, my Department links in with the other State service providers to ensure that all the necessary supports are put in place. Where GP lists are full, the HSE will arrange for access to GPs who have availability in the surrounding area. The Department of Education and Skills ensures access to schools for children and, if required, school transport.  Children also have access to the free pre-school scheme, the Early Childhood Care and Education programme. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection provides a weekly personal allowance to each resident and covers any exceptional needs. The system operates under a whole-of-Government approach to ensure the best outcomes for residents and for local communities.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (129)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

129. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the tender documents for the new direct provision centres (details supplied) which his Department recently published have as a mandatory requirement of the tender, the provision of kitchen and cooking facilities in order that residents of these potential new centres can live under the independent living model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the specifications detailed in my Department's regional procurement processes, done through the eTenders online system, require that all bids must provide for independent living, i.e. that all residents are able to cook meals of their own choosing as well as providing designated living room space for families.

Any bidder that is successful in being placed on a framework and is drawn down from that framework has 16 weeks to carry out all necessary infrastructural works to deliver the independent living model as detailed in their tender submission.

I expect that the continued rollout of the independent living model will deliver significant improvements in living conditions and standards for residents, in particular families and children. I also recently published agreed National Standards for accommodation centres. The Standards will apply to all service providers contracted by the Department to operate and manage accommodation and reception centres. They provide a framework for the continued development of supports and services for residents by improving the quality of care and ensuring consistency across the centres. A copy of the Standards can be found on the Department's website www.justice.ie.

Refugee Status Applications Data

Ceisteanna (130)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

130. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average length of time for a first instance decision on an application for international protection from the International Protection Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37866/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the deputy that new applicants arriving today at the International Protection Office (IPO), who complete their questionnaire, are now being scheduled for interview as follows:

- for prioritised applications, within 5 months of application; and

- for non-prioritised applications, within 8 to 10 months.

Prioritised applications include those from refugee generating countries, such as Syria and Eritrea and from especially vulnerable groups of applicants, such as unaccompanied minors.

The IPO target is to issue its recommendation within 8 weeks after the interview.  This is, however, dependent on the complexity of the relevant case. The overall median processing time for applications processed under the International Protection Act 2015 to end August 2019 is 15.7 months with prioritised cases being processed in 8.7 months.

At the end August 2019,  there were 1,143 applicants waiting to have their interviews scheduled. This figure must be viewed in the context of large numbers of new applicants entering the system. There have been 3,096 applications for international protection made in the period from January 2019 to end of August 2019, which is a 36% increase on the 2,276 applications made in the same period in 2018. When relocation applications under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) are excluded, this figure increases to some 54%.

Processing times are being monitored on an ongoing basis and the IPO is continuously working on ways to improve them.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (131)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

131. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who entered the direct provision system in each year since 2000; the numbers of persons having being processed through the direct provision system that were subsequently naturalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37888/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the International Protection Office (IPO) that, in the period 1 January 2000 to 31 August 2019, a total of  86,533 people made an application for asylum (2000 -2016) or international protection (from 2017 onwards) in the State. A breakdown of the figures for each of the years is set out in the table below.

As the Deputy may be aware, not all applicants for international protection avail of the accommodation services offered by my Department. However, I am advised that over the period concerned it is estimated that some 64,594 people availed of this accommodation.

I am further advised that a total of 7,372 persons with Refugee Status have subsequently become naturalised in the period 2005 to end August 2019. Figures prior to 2005 are not available.

The Immigration Service of my Department have advised that there is no means of interrogating the system to determine whether applicants were, at the time of application, residents within the direct provision system or if they had previously been in accommodation provided by the Department. The Deputy may be aware, in this regard, that two of the five years total residency requirement for naturalisation are waived, for those defined as refugees under the 1956 Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, as amended.

Year

Total Asylum/International Protection Applications

Total Persons with Refugee Status who became Naturalised

2000

10,938

Figures not available

2001

10,325

Figures not available

2002

11,634

Figures not available

2003

7,900

Figures not available

2004

4,766

Figures not available

2005

4,323

0

2006

4,314

29

2007

3,985

254

2008

3,866

1,050

2009

2,689

681

2010

1,939

687

2011

1,290

1,139

2012

956

1,055

2013

946

1,153

2014

1,448

551

2015

3,276

317

2016

2,244

259

2017

2,926

116

2018

3,673

51

2019 to end August

3,095*

30

Total

86,533

7,372

*The figure for the number of International Protection applications in 2019 to end August is provisional.

EU Bodies

Ceisteanna (132)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

132. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the level of Irish involvement in Eurojust; his assessment of the involvement; if the involvement will be continued or altered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37900/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, Eurojust is the EU agency for criminal justice cooperation and its role is to provide assistance to Member States in criminal investigations involving two or more EU Member States. 

I can confirm for the Deputy that Ireland is a member of Eurojust and has been since its inception 17 years ago.  This membership has been valuable - for example in the 4 years up to the end of 2018, the Irish desk at Eurojust has handled 804 cases with an Irish dimension. These have included cases involving serious international fraud, sexual offences and people trafficking.

Transnational challenges require cooperation and transnational approaches and the State's continued membership of Eurojust plays an essential part in allowing Ireland respond in a comprehensive way to such challenges challenges. 

Eurojust currently operates under the provisions of ‘Council Decision of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime (2002/187/JHA)’, the original Eurojust Regulation.  From 12 December this year, Eurojust will operate under a new Regulation which retains many of the provisions and structures of its predecessor, but also provides a framework for the modernisation of the agency. 

Because the new Regulation comes within Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU, there is a necessity for the Oireachtas to agree that Ireland should accept the measure. The Oireachtas took the necessary decision to opt in in June this year.

I would add that in practice, Eurojust's primary role is in assisting in clearing difficulties and logjams that arise in multi-national criminal investigations and dealing with mutual legal assistance requests for evidence and surrenders under the European Arrest Warrant.  The location of EU prosecutors under one roof at Eurojust facilitates the rapid exchange of information and addressing of issues of relevance. The agency makes a valuable contribution in this regard.

Bail Law

Ceisteanna (133)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

133. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has had contact with the Garda Commissioner on the objection of the State to bail in the case of persons (details supplied); his further plans to ensure that the relevant authorities examine the situation from a humanitarian position in view of their advanced years and the fact that the seizing of their passports has resulted in their being separated from their families for over six months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37901/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, changes to the bail laws were introduced by the Government in the Criminal Justice Act 2017, with the aim of strengthening the bail system and making the law as effective as possible.

The courts have the power to refuse bail where there are reasonable grounds to believe the person is likely to commit a serious offence. In assessing this likelihood, the court must take into account the nature and seriousness of the offence, the accused person’s previous offending and may also take into account the danger he or she poses to the public if bail is granted.  The Act also increases the range of conditions that may be attached to bail, in relevant cases. 

However as the Deputy will be aware, a decision to grant or refuse bail in any particular case is a matter for the courts, which are independent in the exercise of judicial functions subject to the Constitution and the law. 

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on an individual case such as that referred to.

Work Permits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (134)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

134. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to ensure that overseas general nurses who are diploma holders working here can receive critical work permits in the normal way; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37802/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The critical skills employment permit is designed to attract highly skilled people into the labour market. Eligible occupations, on the critical skills occupation list, under this type of permit are deemed to be critically important to growing Ireland's economy, are highly demanded and highly skilled and in significant shortage of supply in our labour market. For this employment type non-EEA nationals must be the holder of a degree level qualification or higher in the relevant field if the remuneration on offer is between €30,000 and €60,000 per annum. In cases where the remuneration is €60,000 or more the non-EEA national can be either the holder of a degree level qualification or higher in the relevant field or have the necessary experience for the role. 

Qualified non-EEA nurses who wish to work in Ireland are eligible for critical skills employment permits where they have been awarded a relevant degree or degree equivalent and the proposed employment meets the criteria for this type of employment permit.  Where a non-EEA nurse is qualified to practice nursing in Ireland but does not hold a relevant degree, they may be eligible for a General Employment Permit in order to work here.

The determination of qualification equivalence is made by NARIQ Ireland; information is available at  http://www.qqi.ie/Articles/Pages/Qualifications-Recognition.aspx

Non-EEA nurses who wish to work in Ireland must normally complete an adaptation process in order to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).  Permission to be in the State to undertake this process is granted by the Department of Justice and Equality.

HSE Correspondence

Ceisteanna (135)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

135. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health the reason the HSE failed to reply to correspondence (details supplied); if same will now be dealt with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37945/19]

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 about €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, 459 dementia-specific intensive homecare packages have been delivered, with 193 active at the end of July 2019.  

With regard to the Deputy's specific query, as this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland

Ceisteanna (136)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

136. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the assistance that can be given to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37757/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this question relates to an operational matter, I have referred it to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland for attention and direct reply.

Charitable and Voluntary Organisations

Ceisteanna (137)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

137. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that recent requests by service users to be allowed membership of the group company of an organisation (details supplied) and to have representatives on the board have been refused; if the organisation will be instructed to accept the request by service users for membership of the company and board representation in view of the report by the independent review group examining the role of voluntary organisations and recommendations in the report that such services should be service user centred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37758/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

NCBI is a not for profit charitable organisation which provides support and services nationwide to people experiencing sight loss. The overall aim of NCBI services is to enable people to live an independent life of their choice.

NCBI provide services to over 7,000 people every year. Almost 95% of these people have some degree of useful vision while less than 5% are blind.

NCBI offers community based services to help people to adapt to sight loss and maintain their independence. These services include emotional support to the individual experiencing loss of vision and to their families, advice and information on all aspects of vision loss as well as practical support and solutions to the challenges encountered by people with vision loss. Services are offered to people of all ages, from birth through to older age.

NCBI also provide a range of services to public and private organisations to make sure that their services are accessible to people who are blind and vision impaired.

NCBI advises government departments, companies and individuals on how to make the built environment and services accessible to people with sight loss.

HSE Disability Services fund NCBI, under Section 39 of the Health Act to provide a range of centre, domiciliary and community based services to people who are blind or vision impaired. This funding is governed by a Service Arrangement, which identifies service delivery provided by the agency in return for the money being provided to them.

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.

Voluntary Sector Funding

Ceisteanna (138)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

138. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the reason, despite assurances from the HSE and his Department that there would be no cuts or reduction in services at an organisation (details supplied) that such reductions and cuts have taken place; if the restoration of these services will be ensured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37761/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

NCBI is a not for profit charitable organisation which provides support and services nationwide to people experiencing sight loss. The overall aim of NCBI services is to enable people to live an independent life of their choice.

NCBI provide services to over 7,000 people every year. Almost 95% of these people have some degree of useful vision while less than 5% are blind.

NCBI offers community based services to help people to adapt to sight loss and maintain their independence. These services include emotional support to the individual experiencing loss of vision and to their families, advice and information on all aspects of vision loss as well as practical support and solutions to the challenges encountered by people with vision loss. Services are offered to people of all ages, from birth through to older age.

NCBI also provide a range of services to public and private organisations to make sure that their services are accessible to people who are blind and vision impaired.

NCBI advises government departments, companies and individuals on how to make the built environment and services accessible to people with sight loss.

HSE Disability Services fund NCBI, under Section 39 of the Health Act to provide a range of centre, domiciliary and community based services to people who are blind or vision impaired. This funding is governed by a Service Arrangement, which identifies service delivery provided by the agency in return for the money being provided to them.

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 

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (139)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

139. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if the expenditure of public funds at an organisation (details supplied) will be reviewed, in particular the decision to spend €800,000 on a prime site in Tallaght; the impact this has had or will have on other services and service users; if a value for money audit was carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37762/19]

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 Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (140)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

140. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) can expect to receive an appointment. [37778/19]

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.

Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (141)

John Brassil

Ceist:

141. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health if a full medical card will be provided for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37779/19]

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.

Electronic Cigarettes

Ceisteanna (142)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

142. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the status of examinations by his Department into the potential health impacts of e-cigarettes; if regulation will be forthcoming in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37782/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The current position on e-cigarettes is based on advice from the Health Information and Quality Authority (‘HIQA’) in its 2017 Health Technology Assessment of Smoking Cessation Products and Services. In relation to the safety of e-cigarettes the HIQA assessment concluded that this remains an evolving area of research; while potentially safer than smoking, evidence on long-term safety has yet to be established.

Although the HIQA assessment was published only in 2017, the research on e-cigarettes is rapidly evolving. In that context, in March this year I asked the Health Research Board to undertake a review of the evidence in relation to the health harms of e-cigarettes, their effectiveness as an aid to smoking cessation and whether they act as a gateway to smoking tobacco products. The evidence review is expected to be completed in March 2020.

In addition my Department continues to monitor developments and publications by authoritative bodies internationally on the safety of e-cigarettes and whether they facilitate smoking cessation.

E-cigarettes are regulated under the European Union (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco and Related Products) Regulations 2016 (S.I. 271/2016). These Regulations transpose the EU Tobacco Products Directive (Directive 2014/40/EU).

Under these Regulations health warnings which advise consumers that e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is a highly addictive substance are mandatory. The Regulations also provide for mandatory safety and quality requirements for e-cigarettes and refill containers, including maximum nicotine concentrations for e-cigarettes containing nicotine, and maximum volumes for cartridges, tanks and nicotine liquid containers.

Finally the Regulations require e-cigarette manufacturers or importers to notify the Health Service Executive of all products that they place on the market and, if a manufacturers, importer or distributor has a reason to believe that a product is not safe, they are required to immediately notify the Health Service Executive and to explain what corrective action has been taken.

Later this month I intend to bring forward a draft scheme for a Public Health (Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill which will include provisions to:

- introduce a new licensing system for the retail sale of tobacco products and nicotine-inhaling products such as e-cigarettes.

- prohibit the sale of nicotine inhaling products to persons under the age of 18.

- prohibit the sale of tobacco products and nicotine inhaling products by persons under the age of 18.

HSE Expenditure

Ceisteanna (143)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

143. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the costs incurred to date and the projected costs regarding the integrated finance and procurement management system project design that is being refined to incorporate changes arising from the decision to create six new regional health areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37787/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

My officials have asked the HSE to respond to you directly on this matter.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (144)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

144. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if a surgery appointment will be scheduled for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37794/19]

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.

Primary Care Centres Provision

Ceisteanna (145)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

145. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if final sign-off of the east Meath primary care centre has taken place; the details of the plans that were agreed on the meeting scheduled for 10 September 2019; if the east Meath primary care centre has his support; if the project will progress to construction phase; if so, if there is an expected date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37800/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the HSE has responsibility for the provision, along with the maintenance and operation of Primary Care Centres and other Primary Care facilities, the Executive has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy.

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (146)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

146. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the financial assistance available for parents and or guardians of boys who will miss the entry requirements to the programme in respect of the HPV immunisation programme for boys entering the first year of second-level education in 2019; if he will initiate a catch-up programme in respect of boys missing the vaccine in 2019; if holders of medical cards can avail of the programme outside of the thresholds set; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The immunisation programme in Ireland is based on the advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).  The committee's recommendations are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practice in relation to immunisation.  It makes recommendations on vaccination policy to my Department.  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.  Therefore, the immunisation schedule will continue to be amended over time.

As you are aware, NIAC recommended that the HPV vaccine should also be given to boys.  On foot of NIAC’s recommendation, my Department asked the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to undertake a health technology assessment (HTA) to establish the clinical and cost-effectiveness of extending the current immunisation programme.

HIQA completed the HTA in December 2018, recommending that the HPV immunisation programme be extended to include boys.  A policy decision was made to extend the HPV immunisation programme to include boys starting in September 2019 with the introduction of a 9-valent HPV vaccine.  However, the HIQA report published in December 2018 did not recommend an HPV catch-up programme for older boys for several reasons:

- Vaccinating boys in the first year of secondary school provides the best possible protection against HPV infection;

- Boys are already benefitting from the indirect herd protection provided by the girls' HPV vaccination programme which started in 2010.

The ages at which vaccines are recommended in the immunisation schedule are chosen by NIAC in order to give each child the best possible protection against vaccine preventable diseases.  As the HPV vaccine is preventative it is intended to be administered, if possible, before a person becomes sexually active, that is, before a person is first exposed to HPV infection.  Therefore, the gender neutral HPV vaccination programme targets all girls and boys in first year of secondary school to provide maximum coverage.  All vaccines administered through the School Immunisation Programme are provided free of charge. 

My Department will continue to be guided by NIAC's recommendations on any emerging evidence on this issue in the future.

Hospitals Funding

Ceisteanna (147)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

147. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health the annual budget allocated to each hospital in each of the years 2016 to 2019; the number of open hospital beds in each hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37817/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As set out in the Sláintecare Action Plan 2019, the Department of Health is committed to fostering the support of citizens and stakeholders in the Sláintecare reform process, consulting them about its delivery, and informing them about progress through engagement and open reporting. In line with this commitment, my Department publishes an Open Beds Report on its website each month.

The Open Beds Report provides a summary of the average numbers of open inpatient beds and day beds/places in the acute hospital system based on data provided by the HSE. It can be found on the Department's website: https://health.gov.ie/publications/

According to provisional data received from the HSE Acute Business Information Unit, there were on average 10,978 inpatient beds and 2,251 day case beds/places available nationally in June 2019.

In relation to the annual budget allocated to each hospital, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

HSE Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (148)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

148. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if the counties Longford and Westmeath clerical officer panel (details supplied) is still active; and if so, when persons will be called for positions. [37824/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Ceisteanna (149)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

149. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if the FreeStyle Libre device will be made available to all persons with type 1 diabetes (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37826/19]

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.

Speech and Language Therapy Staff

Ceisteanna (150)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

150. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the proposals in place for job opportunities for speech and language therapists (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37833/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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