Pharmaceutical Sector

Ceisteanna (257)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

257. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the budget for pharmacists (details supplied) in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40786/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there is no specific budget allocated to pharmacists, however, as contractors, pharmacists are paid a fee to dispense medication under a number of community schemes. In 2018, community pharmacy contractors were paid in the region of €400m in fee payments under these schemes.

I value the role pharmacists play in the Irish health service. As you are aware, the Programme for a Partnership Government and the Sláintecare implementation strategy contain commitments to expanding the role of community pharmacy in managing patient health in the community.

Work has been done in recent years on wider healthcare roles for pharmacies, including the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland’s Future Pharmacy report, on the 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, such as 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) when 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 contractual and service arrangements during 2020.

Health Services Access

Ceisteanna (258)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

258. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health the way in which a patient here can obtain a test for malignant hyperthermia; if the test is not available here if a person can access this treatment in another country and be refunded here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40788/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the provision of specific services in the acute hospital setting are an operational matter for the HSE I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on the issue of obtaining a test for malignant hyperthermia.

In relation to accessing this test it is noted that patients often access services in other EU/EEA member states under different routes.

The Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS) allows public patients to be referred to another EU/EEA country for treatment that is not available in Ireland, subject to qualifying criteria. A patient's Irish based consultant is responsible for referring the patient abroad under the terms of the TAS, after having exhausted all treatment options including tertiary care within Ireland. Applications to the TAS are processed and a determination given in accordance with the statutory framework prior to a patient travelling to avail of treatment. The statutory framework stipulates the patient must be a public patient and is required to have followed public patient pathways. Also, the treatment must be a proven treatment and not experimental/trial and it must be provided in the public health service of the country which the patient is being referred to.

In relation to the Cross Border Directive (CBD), patients in Ireland can seek to be referred to another EU/EEA country for medical treatment that is available in the public health service in Ireland. The patient my access the overseas service in either the public or private health sector of the country they choose to receive the service in. The patient pays for the treatment and claims reimbursement from the HSE at the cost of that treatment in Ireland or the cost of it abroad, whichever is the lesser.

Further information on the TAS may be obtained from the HSE website, by phone at 056 77845548 or by writing to the TAS Office, St. Canice’s Hospital Complex, Dublin Road, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny. The contact details for the CBD are: National Contact Point: HSE Cross Border Directive, St Canice's Hospital, Dublin Road, Kilkenny. Tel: 056 778 4547 or 056 778 4546 or 056 778 4556. email: crossborderdirective@hse.ie.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (259)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

259. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health the length of time a person (details supplied) will have to wait for an appointment with a service (details supplied). [40791/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy's question relates to a service issue it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Disabilities Assessments

Ceisteanna (260)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

260. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Health the length of time a person (details supplied) will have to wait for an assessment at St. Gabriel's, Limerick. [40792/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy's question relates to a service issue it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (261)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

261. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that the HSE continues to provide the flu vaccination jab free of charge to home carers employed directly or indirectly by the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40797/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Vaccination remains the most effective means of preventing infection by seasonal influenza viruses and can reduce severe disease that can lead to hospitalisation and death.

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

Thalidomide Victims Compensation

Ceisteanna (262)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

262. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health when he will lift the limitation period on all Thalidomide claims; when the Irish State will acknowledge the wrongdoing and damage caused by thalidomide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40798/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Deputy will appreciate that there are a number of cases concerning thalidomide before the High Court at present and it is not possible to comment on matters that are sub judice. The legislation governing the Statute of Limitations comes within the area of responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality. Specific time frames are defined under the Statute of Limitations within which litigation can be brought. The Statute is a central feature of a fair system of litigation and recognises that a balance needs to be drawn between allowing litigants make their claims and the protection of defendants from old claims. The overall operation of the law in relation to the Statute of Limitations is complex and any changes to it would have a wide impact in law. While the Government has every sympathy for each person who has injuries that are attributable to thalidomide, it must also be cognisant of the constitutional requirement that the State should treat different classes of litigation equally.

Following an Irish Government Decision in January 1975, the Government granted an ex-gratia sum equivalent to 4 times the German lump-sum and an ex-gratia monthly allowance for life equal to the German monthly allowance, to each of the Irish children found to have thalidomide related injuries. There are currently 29 Irish people in receipt of ex-gratia monthly payments from my Department.

The German monthly payments are made by the Contergan Foundation, which is established under German legislation. From 01 August 2013, the Foundation substantially increased its monthly payments to thalidomide survivors, including Irish survivors. Both the German payments and the Irish ex-gratia payments made to the survivors are exempt from tax, including DIRT and are not reckonable as means for the purpose of Social Welfare payments. The rate of payment is related to the survivors' level of thalidomide related injury.

In addition to the initial lump sum and the monthly payments for life, the supports provided to each Irish survivor include a medical card on an administrative basis regardless of means, provision of appliances, artificial limbs, equipment, housing adaptations, and access to a full range of primary care, hospital and personal social services. There is a designated senior manager in the Health Service Executive to act as a liaison with regard to the ongoing health and personal social service needs of Irish survivors.

It is important to note that the German Contergan Foundation, which is established under German legislation, has confirmed that since 2013 it is accepting applications from individuals for compensation for thalidomide related injury. It is open to any Irish person to apply to the Foundation for assessment of their disability as being attributable to thalidomide. Any Irish person who establishes that their injury is attributable to thalidomide will be offered appropriate supports by the Irish Government, commensurate with those currently provided to Irish thalidomide survivors.

Work is underway in the Department to bring forward Heads of a Bill to provide on a statutory basis for health and personal social services for the Irish survivors of thalidomide.

Thalidomide Victims Compensation

Ceisteanna (263)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

263. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the work his officials are undertaking to liaise with thalidomide survivors; if he will address their concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40799/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Officials in my Department liaise with individual survivors of Thalidomide as required in relation to their monthly payments for life and also in relation to applications received from survivors via the HSE National Thalidomide Liaison in respect of once off-grants to support independent living.

The background to the monthly payments is that following an Irish Government Decision in January 1975, the Government granted an ex-gratia sum equivalent to 4 times the German lump-sum and an ex-gratia monthly allowance for life equal to the German monthly allowance, to each of the Irish children found to have thalidomide related injuries. There are currently 29 Irish people in receipt of ex-gratia monthly payments from my Department and all are now in their late 50s.

The German monthly payments are made by the Contergan Foundation, which is established under German legislation. From 01 August 2013, the Foundation substantially increased its monthly payments to thalidomide survivors, including Irish survivors. Both the German payments and the Irish ex-gratia payments made to the survivors are exempt from tax, including DIRT and are not reckonable as means for the purpose of Social Welfare payments. The rate of payment is related to the survivors' level of thalidomide related injury.

In addition to the initial lump sum and the monthly payments for life, the supports provided to each Irish survivor include a medical card on an administrative basis regardless of means, provision of appliances, artificial limbs, equipment, housing adaptations, and access to a full range of primary care, hospital and personal social services. There is a designated senior manager in the Health Service Executive to act as a liaison with regard to the ongoing health and personal social service needs of Irish survivors.

The Contergan Foundation has confirmed that since 2013, it is accepting applications from individuals for compensation for thalidomide related injury. It is important to note that it is open to any Irish person to apply to the Foundation for assessment of their disability as being attributable to thalidomide. Any Irish person who establishes that their injury is attributable to thalidomide, will be offered appropriate supports by the Irish Government commensurate with those currently provided to Irish thalidomide survivors, outlined above.

Work is underway in the Department to bring forward Heads of a Bill to provide on a statutory basis for health and personal social services for the Irish survivors of thalidomide.

Transport Support Scheme

Ceisteanna (264)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

264. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health if assistance is available to a family (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40801/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Deputy will be familiar with the background to the closure of both the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in 2013.

The Motorised Transport Grant, scheme operated as a means-tested grant to assist people with severe disabilities with the purchase or adaptation of a car, where that car was essential to retain employment. The maximum Motorised Transport Grant, which was payable once in any three-year period, was €5,020. Following closure of the scheme in February 2013, no further Motorised Transport Grants have been payable.

The Deputy may be aware that my colleague, the Minister for Health and I, brought a Memorandum to Government on proposals for a new Transport Support Payment Scheme. Following consideration of the matter, it was decided to withdraw the Memorandum from the Cabinet Agenda at that time. I intend to revert to Government in due course with revised proposals to reflect the discussions at that Cabinet meeting and further discussions between myself and Minister Harris, on the best way to progress the Transport Scheme.

It is important to note that the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme, operated by the Revenue Commissioners, remains in place. This scheme provides VRT and VAT relief, an exemption from road tax and a fuel grant to drivers and passengers with a disability, who qualify under the relevant criteria set out in governing regulations made by the Minister for Finance. Specifically adapted vehicles driven by persons with a disability are also exempt from payment of tolls on national roads and toll bridges. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has responsibility for this particular scheme.

There are improvements in access to a range of transport support schemes available to persons with disabilities in the State and on-going work is being carried out by Government Departments, agencies and transport providers to further improve access to public transport services. Under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has responsibility for the continued development of accessibility and availability of public transport for people with a disability.

The Deputy may wish to note that in July last, my colleague the Minister for Rural and Community Development announced CLÁR funding of €890,632 to 20 voluntary community organisations. This funding will support the purchase and/or fit out of vehicles to provide transport for people in rural areas with mobility issues. It will support voluntary organisations that provide:

- transport for people with significant mobility issues, including those requiring specialised wheelchair accessible vehicles, to day-care or other medical, therapeutic or respite services; or

- transport to/from designated cancer treatment hospitals/centres under the National Cancer Care Programme.

Rehabilitative Training Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (265)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

265. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health if the rehabilitation training allowance will be reinstated for new entrants; if his attention has been drawn to the significant difficulty that this decision is causing for new entrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

This 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. The 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 payment of the Rehabilitative Training (RT) Bonus came into place on the transition of Rehabilitative / Training Programmes to the HSE following the dissolution of the National Rehabilitation Board in June 2000.

The decision to phase out the Rehabilitative Training (RT) Bonus payment is designed to bring equity and consistency between people with a disability attending HSE funded rehabilitative training programmes who receive the payment, and those attending similar HSE funded Day Services or in other State schemes such as further education and training, who do not.

This action will ensure all HSE funded Day Services are provided on an equitable basis and will also ensure that the use of finite resources is maximised.

The Rehabilitative Training (RT) Bonus Payment is a historical payment, introduced in July 2001, aligned with a similar FÁS Training Bonus. However, during 2011 the FÁS Training Bonus was reduced to €20.00 and then eliminated the following year while to date the RT Bonus Payment has continued to be paid in the Health Sector

It is worth remembering that:

- There is no cut in the number of RT places available

- There is no cut in payment of the bonus - those who have it will continue to receive it for the remainder of their RT Placement

- All participants continue to be eligible for Disability Allowance of €203 per week

- All participants continue to be eligible for a free travel pass

- No expectation of an additional RT bonus payment has been created by HSE for 2019 participants

The redirected funding (€3.7 m over 4 years), which will be ring-fenced, will facilitate 148 full day placements or 370 enhanced day places nationally based on priority need.

Each CHO will have the flexibility to redirect its own savings to address local service requirements. The HSE will put in place a monitoring system and regularly report the additional placements realised to the Department of Health.

Hospital Appointments Administration

Ceisteanna (266)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

266. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if an appointment for a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be expedited. [40828/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Ceisteanna (267)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

267. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if an independent investigation into gynaecology services in Letterkenny General Hospital will be launched; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40835/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I have been advised that the Saolta Healthcare Group intend to review the safety and quality of gynaecology services in Letterkenny General Hospital. I understand that the Review Group, which will be established, will be led by an independent chairperson. The terms of reference and membership of the Review Group will be decided in the coming weeks.

National Children's Hospital

Ceisteanna (268)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

268. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if a copy of all NPHDB and CHPP minutes for 2018 and 2019 in relation to the new national children’s hospital will be provided. [40837/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In relation to the Deputy's request, I would note that much of this material has been previously supplied to the Joint Oireachtas Committee and Public Accounts Committee.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the 2018 and 2019 (up to July) NPHDB minutes are available on the NPHDB's website. However, I have asked the NPHDB to forward their minutes to the Deputy. I have also requested the HSE to forward minutes of the CHP&P Steering Group to the Deputy.

In relation to the CHP&P Board minutes, it will be necessary to review the 2019 minutes before supplying them in order to ensure they do not contain content of a commercially sensitive nature or material of a nature that would affect the management of the project. My Department will review the documents and respond to the Deputy as soon as is practical.

Health Services Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (269)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

269. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health the reason for the delay in commencing the employment of successful applicants in various posts in the HSE; if applicants for positions nationwide have been contacted by the HSE to explain the reason the appointment process has ceased; if it is policy to impose an embargo on all such positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40838/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I am advised by the HSE that while there is no national recruitment embargo or moratorium, there is a priority requirement for all HSE services to maintain, or get to, an affordable staffing level that is sustainable in 2019 and 2020, while also prioritising the delivery of safe services.

In light of this, the HSE advise that they have introduced control measures relating to staffing and recruitment to ensure that they live within the available resources provided to them. This does mean that in some Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations non-critical replacement posts will be paused. The preference is for these controls to remain in place for as short a period as necessary, with on-going review until there is satisfactory evidence of traction and delivery of balanced financial plans from Hospital Groups and CHO’s.

The HSE report that there is on-going capacity for recruitment of newly funded posts and replacement of critical clinical posts within frontline services throughout this period.

With regard to applicants for positions being contacted I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Occupational Therapy Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (270)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

270. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if an early appointment will be arranged for a person (details supplied) with the occupational therapy primary care paediatric service in County Kilkenny; the reason for the delay; the steps he is taking to resolve the issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40840/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Home Care Packages Funding

Ceisteanna (271, 272)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

271. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health the position regarding certainty of sufficient funding for supported care homes to enable the continuation of the provision of cost efficient care for residents; if he will consider a 50% increase of current funding levels for supported care homes in advance of budget 2020 to meet urgent needs such as annually increasing energy costs, depreciation costs which have never previously been covered (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40841/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

272. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health his views on the significant savings supported care homes contribute to the State and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection through non-payment of fuel and living alone allowances and household benefits package and the provision of cost effective care; his views on the inspection of supported care homes in accordance with standards suitable to the homes and the possible establishment of a group consisting of HIQA, representatives of the supported care homes and the HSE with the purpose of constructing suitable inspection guidelines within the next six months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40842/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 271 and 272 together.

A key principle underpinning Government policy is to support older people to live in their own home as long as possible.

There will, however, always be people whose needs are best met in a residential care setting or supported housing model. There are 10 Supported Care Homes in Community Healthcare Organisation Area 5 providing accommodation and support services to older people with low to medium dependency levels. The residents cannot be maintained independently at home, but do not yet require nursing home care.

The HSE acknowledges the role played by these Homes in reducing possible admission to nursing homes and I have been assured by the HSE that it is committed to ensuring Supported Care Home are supported. The HSE will provide about €2.5 million in Section 39 funding this year towards the operational costs of the Homes.

HIQA is the independent statutory body established to register and inspect all residential homes for older people. The current regulatory regime aims to ensure the provision of high-quality, safe and effective services to people living in these centres, whether they are nursing homes providing 24-hour nursing care or supported care homes for people with lower dependencies.

As people get older, their housing needs may change. Earlier this year the Government published a Policy Statement “Housing Options for our Aging Population” which provides a policy framework to support our aging population through increasing the accommodation options available to them and give them meaningful choice in how and where they choose to live. It also sets out a package of key actions to assist the development of models of supported housing that promote integration between housing and health and social care services.

An Inter-Departmental and Inter-Agency Implementation Group has been established to progress the programme of actions contained in the policy statement. This will assist in developing a menu of solutions which are available nationally to provide enhanced housing and support options for older people.

The level of funding available to supported care homes is being considered in the context of the Estimates and the National Service Plan for 2020.

Newborn Screening Cards

Ceisteanna (273, 289)

Pat Casey

Ceist:

273. Deputy Pat Casey asked the Minister for Health the progress being made in introducing a thorough newborn screening programme to provide lifesaving essential early diagnoses of conditions such as MLD; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40856/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

289. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health the status of plans to introduce expanded newborn screening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40987/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 273 and 289 together.

Currently all newborn babies (between 3 and 5 days old) are offered newborn bloodspot screening (generally known as the ‘heel prick’) through their parents/guardians for eight very rare conditions that are treatable if detected early in life.

A National Screening Committee is being established and will hold its first meeting before the end of 2019, as per recommendation 5, contained within the Scally Review (2018). The Committee’s role will be to undertake an independent assessment of the evidence for screening for a particular condition against internationally accepted criteria and make recommendations accordingly.

I appointed Professor Niall O’Higgins as Chair of the Committee in July and asked that, as part of its initial body of work, the Committee prioritise a review of the national newborn blood-spot screening programme and look specifically at how Ireland should best proceed with an expansion in line with international best practice.

My officials have commenced some preparatory work, ahead of the Committee becoming operational later this year and will visit counterparts in Italy, at the end of October, to learn more about the work that they have undertaken that led to the recent expansion of the Italian neonatal screening programme.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (274)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

274. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 423 of 1 October 2019, if the specific question asked will be addressed; if differences in the way in which different pension products and funds are assessed, both in terms of income and capital as part of the financial assessment of an application under the nursing home support scheme will be set out with particular regard to the treatment of an approved retirement fund of a private annuity pension or a public service pension; his plans to make changes in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40885/19]

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.

Primary Care Centres Funding

Ceisteanna (275)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

275. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Health if capital funding will be allocated to upgrade Cliffony health centre and Carrigans day care centre in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40888/19]

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.

Disease Awareness

Ceisteanna (276)

James Browne

Ceist:

276. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the way in which a person can create an official awareness day in order to have recognition for a disease (details supplied) here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40894/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Lissencephaly is one of the approximately 8,000 rare diseases affecting millions of EU citizens.

A Rare Disease Day takes place every year with the aim of raising awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about all rare diseases and their impact on patient’s lives.

This annual event is scheduled to take place again on 29th February 2020.

1 in 15 people will live with a rare disease at some point in their life and there can be a dearth of expertise and knowledge about some rare diseases, simply because they are so rare. There is no cure for the majority, of rare diseases and many go undiagnosed. Therefore, building awareness of rare diseases is of the utmost importance. The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to bridge the gaps in the coordination between medical, social and support services in order, to tackle the challenges that people living with a rare disease face every day.

The HSE National Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases was established in 2013 and the National Rare Disease Office was established by the HSE in 2015. The purpose of the National Rare Disease Office is to provides current and reliable information about genetic and rare diseases to patients, families and healthcare professionals.

The organisers of Rare Disease Day have the full support of my Department who have met with representatives of the Rare Disease Taskforce three times this year and will continue to meet with this important patient representative body on a quarterly basis in the future.

Home Help Service

Ceisteanna (277)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

277. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health the position regarding cuts to the rostered hours of home help sector workers within the Health Service Executive CHO Area 5; the position regarding deficits which may occur between the 39 hours contracted and the eventual hours allotted and rostered; the protocol in place by which such shortfalls of hours are monitored and analysed and the utilisation of private operators in this respect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40897/19]

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.

Disability Services Funding

Ceisteanna (278)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

278. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health the disability services within the Sláintecare plan; when multi-annual funding will commence for the disability sector; the individual planning pathway for those currently in the disability sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40941/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Sláintecare Action Plan 2019 outlines a number of commitments in relation to disability services and the wider social care area. One of the main items is the commitment to establish future needs for people with a disability. This work is underway and it will provide the basis for future planning in disability services. There is also a commitment to continued reform of disability services under a range of established programmes, under Transforming Lives including Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People, New Direction Day Services and Time to Move on from Congregated Settings.

A key feature in the Reform Programme is the development of person centred services. This policy is clearly evident in community settings where people have successfully transitioned from large institutions. In addition, as part of the New Directions policy , the HSE has published a National Framework for Person-Centred Planning in Services for Persons with a Disability. This publication supports the target contained in the 2019 HSE Service Plan:- "Implement the person-centred planning framework in four disability day service provider organisations, and review and evaluate the process with a view to wider application."

The Sláintecare Implementation Strategy also commits to reforming the funding system to support new models of care and drive value to make better use of resources. Department of Health officials are currently examining the feasibility of introducing a multi-annual budgeting process including examination of international best practice in relation to the implementation of multi-annual budgeting in healthcare systems.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (279)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

279. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health the status of plans to develop a management information system within the disability sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40942/19]

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

Disability Services Funding

Ceisteanna (280)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

280. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health if funding is ringfenced for the disability sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40943/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The level of funding available for my Department is being considered as part of the national Estimates and budgetary process for 2020 which is currently underway. Following completion of this process, the National Service Plan for the HSE will set out the type and volume of services to be provided for the level of funding available.

Pending completion of this process it is not appropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

Health Services

Ceisteanna (281, 285)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

281. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if the system of therapeutic hypothermia for newborn babies in the health service takes into account the need for a baby to reach the correct low temperature of 33.5 degrees celsius before cooling can commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40949/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

285. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health his views on whether there is a regional imbalance in therapeutic hypothermia cooling centres nationwide. [40953/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 281 and 285 together.

As the queries raised by the Deputy relate to an operational matter, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.