Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (259)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

259. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if an early appointment for a knee operation will be arranged at Cappagh hospital for a person (details supplied); and if the matter will be expedited. [38304/19]

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.

General Practitioner Services

Ceisteanna (260)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

260. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health if general practitioners can charge medical card patients for blood tests carried out in their surgeries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38305/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the terms of the current GMS contract, GPs are required to provide eligible patients with ''all proper and necessary treatment of a kind usually undertaken by a general practitioner and not requiring special skill or experience of a degree or kind which general practitioners cannot reasonably be expected to possess." There is no provision under the GMS GP contract for persons who hold a medical card or GP visit card to be charged for routine phlebotomy services provided by their GP which are required to either assist in the diagnosis of illness or the treatment of a condition.

The HSE has advised GPs that where a blood test forms part of the investigation or necessary treatment of a patient’s symptoms or conditions, this should be free of charge for patients who hold a medical card or GP visit card. Notwithstanding this, I am aware that some GPs are charging GMS patients for phlebotomy services in some circumstances.

This is a matter of concern for me as it has long been the position, under successive Governments, that no user charges should apply to GP services provided to GMS and GP visit card patients. If a patient who holds a medical card or GP visit card believes he or she has been incorrectly charged for routine phlebotomy services by his or her GP, then that patient should report the matter to their HSE Local Health Office.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (261)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

261. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if surgery will be scheduled for a person (details supplied). [38327/19]

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.

Home Help Service Provision

Ceisteanna (262)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

262. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if additional home help hours will be provided to a person (details supplied). [38338/19]

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 Remuneration

Ceisteanna (263)

John Brassil

Ceist:

263. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health if a salary arrears payment will issue as a matter of priority to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38339/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Ministerial Correspondence

Ceisteanna (264)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

264. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health if a letter of complaint was received from a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38343/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

A letter on the lines set out by the Deputy has not been received in the office of the Minister for Health as of 23 September 2019.

Respite Care Services Provision

Ceisteanna (265)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

265. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the case of a child (details supplied); and when the child will receive respite at a centre. [38350/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

The Programme for Partnership Government states that the Government wishes to provide more accessible respite care to facilitate full support for people with a disability.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Community Pharmacy Services

Ceisteanna (266, 267)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

266. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health when negotiations will commence on a new community pharmacy contract in view of his commitment given at a conference (details supplied); when the talks will conclude; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38351/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

267. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health when he plans to commence talks with the representative body for pharmacy contractors on reform and modernisation of pharmacy services and the unwinding of FEMPI for community pharmacists in view of his commitment given at a conference (details supplied). [38352/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 266 and 267 together.

The Programme for a Partnership Government contains a commitment to expand the role of community pharmacy in managing patient health, and this is an issue which I intend to progress.

Work has been done in recent years on wider healthcare roles for pharmacies, including the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland’s Future Pharmacy report, concerning expansion of professional pharmacy practice. It is clear from this and other work that there is potential to increase the range of both private and publicly funded health services delivered through community pharmacy. Important new services, in influenza vaccination and emergency contraception, have already been introduced.

To be funded by the taxpayer, new public health services in community pharmacy, as elsewhere, should improve health outcomes and provide value for money and benefits for patients. Any new or transferred services should be based on sound evidence, with matching improvements in governance and administration.

I recently met with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) where these and other issues were discussed. My officials will be engaging with the IPU on new fee regulations before the end of the year and the intention is to broaden the discussions to wider contract issues in 2020.

It is my intention to commence a broader discussion on contractual and service arrangements following this in 2020.

Pharmacy Regulations

Ceisteanna (268)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

268. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health when pharmacists will be permitted to provide oral contraception to women without prescription in line with his commitment to improve access to contraception and plans being considered by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38353/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

A Working Group was established in April 2019 to consider the range of policy, regulatory and legislative issues arising in relation to improving access to contraception. As part of its deliberations and engagement with stakeholders, the Group has considered the potential role of pharmacists in providing oral contraception to women without prescription.

The Group is continuing its deliberations and intends to report to the Minister shortly.

Pharmacy Services

Ceisteanna (269)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

269. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health when the pharmacy-based minor ailment service will be rolled out to provide medical card holders with advice and appropriate treatment for minor ailments without the need to visit a general practitioner, as is commonplace in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38354/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Programme for a Partnership Government contains a commitment to expand the role of community pharmacy in managing patient health, and this is an issue I intend to progress.

Work has been done in recent years on wider healthcare roles for pharmacies, including the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland’s Future Pharmacy report, concerning expansion of professional pharmacy practice. It is clear from this and other work that there is potential to increase the range of both private and publicly funded health services delivered through community pharmacy. Important new services, in influenza vaccination and emergency contraception, have already been introduced.

To be funded by the taxpayer, new public health services in community pharmacy, as elsewhere, should improve health outcomes and provide value for money and benefits for patients. Any new or transferred services should be based on sound evidence, with matching improvements in governance and administration.

I met with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) earlier this year and I attended their conference in Galway and these and other issues were discussed in both forums. It is my intention that there will be further consultation with the IPU before the end of the year.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (270)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

270. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if the case of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; if the person can be moved to a similar independent facility in County Cavan to be close to family; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38355/19]

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

Ambulance Service Data

Ceisteanna (271)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

271. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health the number of ambulance cars assigned to HSE officers; if HSE officers are the only persons allowed to drive the vehicles; if not, if named non-ambulance personnel can drive them; if so, the number; the annual mileage in 2018 by vehicle assigned to specific personnel; the number of call-outs made by each vehicle assigned to an officer in 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38361/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.

Hospital Groups

Ceisteanna (272)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

272. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health when the perceived significant inequality in funding for the UL hospital group will be addressed (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38362/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.

Dental Services Provision

Ceisteanna (273)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

273. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health if the HSE will provide funding for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38363/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Electronic Cigarettes

Ceisteanna (274)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

274. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health the research his Department has commissioned and-or carried out on vaping; the regulations issued on the sale of vaping devices and liquids; the health advice issued on the subject of vaping; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38364/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The current position on e-cigarettes in Ireland is based 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.

In relation to e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation HIQA advised the Minister for Health as follows:

Although the currently available results for e-cigarettes are promising, there is insufficient evidence at present to reliably demonstrate their effectiveness as an aid to smoking cessation.

Although the HIQA assessment was published only in 2017, the evidence 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 on the safety of e-cigarettes and whether they facilitate smoking cessation.

In Ireland 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.

In relation to advertising, the Regulations prohibit advertisements for e-cigarettes online and in printed publications except for those directed at persons in the e-cigarette industry or publications printed and published outside the EU and intended for markets outside the EU. In addition, advertisements for e-cigarettes are prohibited on television and on radio. Finally, any form of contribution to an event, activity or person with the aim of promoting e-cigarettes and with a cross-border effect is also prohibited

In addition to the current legislation my Department is developing 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

I intend to bring the draft scheme to Government in the coming weeks.

The current health advice given by the Health Service Executive (‘HSE’) reflects the position from the HIQA research and conclusions.

The HSE advises people who smoke that currently e-cigarettes are not recommended as a help to stop smoking because the safety and effectiveness profile is uncertain. People who want to stop smoking and /or using e-cigarettes, and who want support, can use HSE QUIT services and access help. Research shows that using stop smoking services like the HSE’s QUIT service makes someone twice as likely to quit for good. Even better news is that using stop smoking services in combination with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and stop smoking medication makes people three to four times more likely to quit. The HSE’s QUIT service is a free, personal support service to help quitters – providing a team of trained advisors, online tools, understanding and support. If anyone is thinking of giving up smoking, or is using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, the QUIT service can help over the phone, on Facebook or Twitter, via email or text, or through Live Chat via the QUIT.ie support. The QUIT Service also has a network of face-to-face HSE QUIT services in locations around the country, providing one-to-one and group support for smokers.

Prescriptions Data

Ceisteanna (275)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

275. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health the number of prescriptions issued to medical card holders for oxycodone in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38365/19]

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 pricing and reimbursement of medicines; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Prescriptions Data

Ceisteanna (276)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

276. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health the number of prescriptions issued to medical card holders for benzodiazepines in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38366/19]

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 pricing and reimbursement of medicines; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Prescriptions Data

Ceisteanna (277)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

277. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health the number of prescriptions issued to medical card holders for fentanyl in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38367/19]

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 pricing and reimbursement of medicines; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Prescriptions Data

Ceisteanna (278)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

278. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health the number of prescriptions issued to medical card holders for opioids in each of the years 2009 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38368/19]

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 pricing and reimbursement of medicines; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.