Physiotherapy Provision

Ceisteanna (345)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

345. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if additional funding will be made available for physiotherapy services in Louth County Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39414/19]

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.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Ceisteanna (346)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

346. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health the status of planned progress of the block at Sligo University Hospital in view of the urgent need for increases in bed capacity at the hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39416/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive recently published its Capital Plan for 2019-2021 outlining 250 projects to be progressed over the three-year period.

The Capital Plan includes a new ward block development and additional bed capacity at Sligo University Hospital, which is currently at design stage.

The HSE is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare infrastructure projects and has advised that preliminary design work and site investigations have been carried out for this new development at Sligo University Hospital. Planning approval was granted in July 2019 and the project is currently at the detailed design stage. 

It is important to recognise that all capital development proposals must progress through a number of approval stages, in line with the Public Spending Code, including detailed appraisal, planning, design and procurement, before a firm timeline or funding requirement can be established.  The final decision to proceed with the construction of a project cannot be made until the tender process has been completed and the costings reviewed to ensure that the proposal delivers value for money and remains affordable, and that sufficient funding is available to fund the project to completion, including equipping and commissioning costs.

The delivery of capital projects is a dynamic process and is subject to the successful completion of the various approval stages, which can impact on the timeline for delivery.

Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (347)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

347. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health when a home support package will be put in place for a person (details supplied). [39421/19]

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.

Infectious Diseases

Ceisteanna (348)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

348. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health his plans to ensure the HSE consider the introduction of new UV technology such as a unit (details supplied) in State hospitals nationally as a mechanism to combat the spread of infections such as MRSA and flu; if his attention has been drawn to the results of such devices from UK hospitals such as a hospital which show reductions in infections by 46% and reduced bed closures of 89%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39430/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Deputy's Question concerns a procurement issue and it would not be appropriate in the interests of good governance for me, or my Department, to intervene in a function proper to the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Thus, as this is an operational matter I have referred the Question to the HSE for its attention and direct response to the Deputy.

Health Insurance Prices

Ceisteanna (349, 350)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

349. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a decision by the Health Insurance Authority that will see a significant rise in the cost of international students' private medical insurance; if his Department has assessed the polices the other providers can provide; the estimated increased cost; if those policies will include repatriation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

350. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health if he has considered amending the Health Insurance Acts to remove international students from the definition of health insurance contract in the same way that other temporary residents are excluded regarding the decision by the Health Insurance Authority that will likely lead to a significant increase in the cost of private medical insurance for international students studying here and in view of the lack of clarity on other policies that include repatriation available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39441/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 349 and 350 together.

The Irish health insurance market is community rated, meaning insured persons pay the same level of premium for a given benefit, regardless of health profile (age, gender or health status). This principle applies to all consumers who are ordinarily resident in the country (here for a period of more than one year) as is set out in health insurance legislation.

In the case of non-EEA students wishing to secure a visa to stay and study in Ireland, one of the requirements set down by the Department of Justice (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service), is that these students have health insurance for the period of their stay, so that they may not be a burden on the Irish public health system.

Within this particular cohort there are those who are resident here for more than one year and therefore the community rating principle applies when they buy their insurance policies in Ireland.

The High Court last year upheld the issuance by the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) of an enforcement notice to an insurer, instructing this insurer to cease selling non-community rated policies to non-EEA students resident in the country for more than one year.

If non-EEA students who are resident here for more than one year wish to purchase health insurance in Ireland, they may purchase community rated products from other companies that are registered with the HIA. Each of the three open membership insurers (Irish Life Health, Laya Healthcare and Vhi) have starter plans which offer coverage in most public hospitals and range in price from €480-500 per annum. Insurers also offer young adult rates on many of their products, which further reduces the premium for young people availing of health insurance. The rates range from 50% of adult premium for someone aged 18, up to full adult premium for a 26 year old person.

All health insurance policies sold in Ireland must also include a set of minimum benefits. These benefits are called the Minimum Benefit Regulations and are set out in health insurance legislation. They include a cohort of procedures that are important and of benefit to the community of the insured population. Coverage for repatriation is not included in these regulations and therefore health insurance policies sold in Ireland do not need to provide cover for this circumstance.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Ceisteanna (351)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

351. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the timeline for the provision of the new 50-bed unit in Portiuncula Hospital, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39442/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive recently published its Capital Plan for 2019-2021 outlining 250 projects to be progressed over the three-year period.

The Capital Plan includes the provision of a new 50 bed ward block at Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe.

The Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare infrastructure projects and has advised that the project is currently at tender stage for the enabling works, which are expected to commence later this year or early next year, with a view to progressing towards the construction phase once the enabling works have been completed. It is anticipated that the project will be completed in 2022.

It is important to note that all proposals must progress through a number of approval stages, in line with the Public Spending Code, which can impact on the timeline for delivery.

Hospital Staff Data

Ceisteanna (352)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

352. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the number of reviews of doctors taking place in Portiuncula Hospital, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39443/19]

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.

Physiotherapy Provision

Ceisteanna (353)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

353. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the number of physiotherapists employed by the HSE and-or children’s physiotherapy services in County Galway; if there are vacancies for physiotherapists treating children in the county; if so, the number of such vacancies; the length of time that each vacancy existed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39444/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

HSE Staff Data

Ceisteanna (354)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

354. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the breakdown of the community general adult staffing levels in CHO 2 as recommended in a Vision for Change in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39445/19]

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.

Departmental Strategies

Ceisteanna (355)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

355. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health the involvement he or his Department has had in the preparation of the clean air strategy; the organisations he has consulted with in relation to the strategy; the meetings he has held with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39446/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

My Department provided a written submission in May 2017 to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment's public consultation process to inform the development of a National Clean Air Strategy. 

While my Department did not consult directly with any organisations when preparing the submission, it recommended to DCCAE that current World Health Organisation thinking in this area be considered.

I have not met with my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment regarding this issue.

Hospital Consultant Recruitment

Ceisteanna (356)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

356. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Health the start date for the new endocrinologist for the paediatric diabetes service in Cork University Hospital; the management plans in place to assist the almost 100 teenagers to transition into adult diabetes services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39461/19]

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 Data

Ceisteanna (357)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

357. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health the average waiting time for treatment types (details supplied) in CHO 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39480/19]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (358)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

358. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if the waiting time of a person (details supplied) will be investigated; and the overall waiting times for the service. [39484/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.   

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

Hospital Staff Data

Ceisteanna (359)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

359. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Health if an updated report will be provided on the number of vacant posts unfilled in each of the Departments in Letterkenny University Hospital; the type of posts in this regard; the number of these which are unfilled due to the current employment embargo; the number of vacant posts that have been advertised; the number which are vacant but not currently advertised for filling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39486/19]

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.

Hospital Equipment

Ceisteanna (360)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

360. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health when a new MRI scanner will be provided for University Hospital Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39514/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Pharmacy Services

Ceisteanna (361)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

361. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health when a new contract between the HSE and a union (details supplied) will be put in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39529/19]

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 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.

Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (362)

John Brassil

Ceist:

362. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the status of a referral for a person (details supplied); the average wait time for an appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39534/19]

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 Provision

Ceisteanna (363)

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

363. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health if a request for an increased home support package will be given an urgent review for a person (details supplied) who is on a waitlist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39536/19]

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.

Medicinal Products Availability

Ceisteanna (364)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

364. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position in relation to ocrelizumab being made available to persons with multiple sclerosis; his plans in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39549/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for medicine pricing and reimbursement decisions, under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013. The Act specifies criteria for decisions on the reimbursement of medicines.

HSE decisions on which medicines are reimbursed by the taxpayer are made on objective, scientific and economic grounds, including on the advice of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE). The NCPE conducts health technology assessments (HTAs) for the HSE and makes recommendations on reimbursement to assist HSE decisions. The NCPE uses a decision framework to systematically assess whether a drug's clinical and cost effectiveness as a health intervention.

The HSE strives to reach a decision in as timely a manner as possible. However, because of the significant monies involved, it must ensure that the best price is achieved, as these commitments are often multi-million euro, ongoing investments. This can lead to a protracted deliberation process.

The HSE has advised that it has received two applications for pricing and reimbursement of Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) in Multiple Sclerosis.

On 29 August 2018, the NCPE completed a health technology assessment  for Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) for the treatment of adult patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS). They recommended that Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) not be considered for reimbursement unless cost-effectiveness can be improved relative to existing treatments.

Following a number of rounds of commercial negotiations, agreement has been reached in relation to the commercial terms which will apply to this indication when reimbursed. The HSE intends to progress Ocrelizumab for the RMS indication, which has been approved for funding from October 2019, on a patient specific basis for this indication.

On 4 October 2018 the NCPE completed their assessment for Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) indicated for the treatment of adult patients with early primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). They did not recommend that Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) be reimbursed for this indication. 

The HSE and the manufacturer have had a number of rounds of commercial negotiations in relation to this indication (use). Commercial discussions have concluded, the medicine has been reviewed by the HSE Drugs Group and the HSE Senior Leadership Team have received the Drugs Group recommendation. The HSE's final decision on reimbursement will take into consideration the statutory criteria contained in the 2013 Health Act.