Occupational Therapy Staff

Ceisteanna (161)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

161. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health when an occupational therapy role (details supplied) will be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49561/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Administration

Ceisteanna (162)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

162. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health his views on whether it is acceptable that a person (details supplied) in County Cork who had an urgent referral to CAMHS in February 2019 has received an appointment for April 2020; if he will make inquiries on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49564/19]

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.

Pharmacy Services

Ceisteanna (163)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

163. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49565/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Minster for Health I recognise the significant role community pharmacists play in the delivery of patient care and the potential for this role to be developed further in the context of health service reform and modernisation. Community pharmacy is recognised as the most accessible element of our health service with an unequalled reach in terms of patient contact and access, regardless of their geographic location or status as either an independent retailer or as part of a larger chain of providers.

The regulations governing the current pharmacy fee structure were made under section 9 of the FEMPI Act 2009 and are set to expire at the end of 2019. Under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, these regulations must be replaced on 1 January 2020 to maintain a statutory basis for contractor payments and to prescribe the fees payable from that date. The fees to be set are determined by the Minister for Health, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

In keeping with my obligations under Section 43 of the 2017 Act, Department of Health officials have begun a process of consultation with the IPU, as the representative body, prior to the introduction of new fee regulations. My officials have met with an IPU delegation on two occasions and a detailed submission was received from the IPU on 8 November.

That submission is currently being considered by my Department in the context of the statutory fee-setting process as referred to.

In May of this year I addressed the Irish Pharmaceutical Union at the National Pharmacy Conference and gave a commitment to move beyond the arrangements underpinned by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 (FEMPI) with a view to optimising the role of pharmacists in the years ahead. It is my intention to open contract discussions in 2020 which will assist to deliver on the commitment given.

National Drugs Strategy Implementation

Ceisteanna (164)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

164. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health his views on the recent joint statement from each previous Minister with responsibility for the drugs strategy calling on him to give greater priority to supporting drugs task forces in their work and ensuring that agencies and Departments play their part in the response to the escalating social problems associated with drug misuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49571/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The national drugs strategy Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery is a health-led response to the problem of drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The strategy is underpinned by a partnership approach between the statutory, non-statutory and community and voluntary sectors.

Drug and alcohol task forces play a key role in assessing the extent and nature of the drug problem in local communities. They ensure that a coordinated approach is taken across all sectors to address substance misuse based on the identified needs and priorities in their areas.

The task forces oversee an annual budget of €28m from the Department of Health and the HSE. This funding supports over 280 community projects, in local areas and communities throughout the country, to support initiatives to tackle drug and alcohol use and misuse.

Additional funding of €1m has been provided for the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy in 2019. This included €480,000 to provide an additional €20,000 for each of the 24 Task Forces, €10,000 of which will be on a permanent recurring basis. It also funds 13 strategic initiatives to respond to emerging trends in substance misuse and to improve access to services for people with complex needs. The initiatives were developed by task forces in conjunction with community healthcare organisations.

The Department of Health provides annual funding of over €200,000 to support, develop and facilitate the involvement of communities in the local and national structures for implementing the National Drugs Strategy. In addition, there are 11 community and voluntary representatives on the oversight structures of the strategy.

I am committed to implementing an integrated public health response to substance misuse. Working in partnership with statutory, community and voluntary sectors is central to this response, and I am confident the new strategic initiatives will have a positive impact and make a difference to people’s lives as they journey to recovery.

The decision earlier this year to introduce a health diversion programme for persons in possession of drugs for personal use is a hugely important step in developing a public health approach to drug use. It delivers on a person-centred approach to harm reduction, which will benefit individuals and communities affected drug use. I am very pleased that we are delivering on this key commitment in the National Drugs Strategy.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (165)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

165. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the severe shortages of services for children with mental health problems in the north-western areas of Dublin in which there are now significant waiting lists for assessments in primary care and for therapy; and the specific steps he will take to address the matter. [49572/19]

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 Agencies Staff Remuneration

Ceisteanna (166)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

166. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a group (details supplied) and its campaign to eliminate deficits for section 39 organisations in the adoption of the recommendations of the independent review group in the sector and to fund the full restoration of pay for the organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49574/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Section 39 Agencies which provide services for people with a disability, do so on a contract for services basis with the HSE. Service Level Agreements are set out between the HSE and the individual organisations.  I understand that some Section 39 organisations, which provide specialist disability services, have raised concerns about their financial sustainability with the HSE.  The HSE has assured my Department that it is committed to working intensively with such organisations to support them, as appropriate, to address such issues in the context of the service level agreement process.

In relation to the issue of pay restoration raised by the Deputy, an agreement was reached in 2019 at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) between my Department, the HSE and health sector Trade Unions in relation to a process aimed at resolving the pay restoration issue for staff employed by section 39 bodies in 50 pilot organisations.  

Pay restoration for these bodies commenced in April of this year with further payments due in 2020 and 2021 as appropriate. It is recognised that some of the remaining Section 39 organisations are also likely to have pay restoration issues. I can confirm that this issue in being progressed by the parties at the Workplace Relations Commission. 

As the Deputy will be aware, the Independent Review Group on the role of voluntary organisations in the health and social care sector contained a broad range of recommendations in its report, including in relation to deficits in some voluntary organisations.  I am currently giving consideration to these recommendations. 

More generally, the Independent Review Group recommended a strengthening of the relationship between voluntary organisations and the State.  In this regard, I have established a dialogue forum as recommended by its report and the first meeting will take place next week.

Respite Care Services

Ceisteanna (167)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

167. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health if the value for money audit and policy review conducted in advance of the decision to close a facility (details supplied) will be provided. [49575/19]

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 

Hospital Consultant Data

Ceisteanna (168)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

168. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the number of consultant psychiatric posts in the health service in Country Tipperary; and the number filled by permanent consultant, temporarily filled and vacant, respectively. [49576/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (169)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

169. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49578/19]

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.

Respite Care Services Provision

Ceisteanna (170)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

170. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health the reason for the refusal of respite for a person (details supplied). [49583/19]

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 t o the Deputy 

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (171)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

171. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) will qualify for the fair deal scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49584/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) is a system of financial support for those in need of long-term nursing home care.  Participants contribute to the cost of their care according to their income and assets while the State pays the balance of the cost. The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.

There are three main steps to the application process:

- Step 1 is an application for a Care Needs Assessment. The Care Needs Assessment identifies whether or not the person needs long-term nursing home care. This is a key criteria and the HSE cannot make a determination on an application for State support under the Scheme unless a determination has been made that the person needs the relevant care services.  

- Step 2 is an application for State Support. This is used to complete the Financial Assessment by the HSE which assesses the person’s contribution to care and his/her corresponding level of financial assistance. The Financial Assessment takes account of a person’s income and assets in order to determine the person’s contribution to their care.

- Step 3 is the decision to approve financial support for the applicant under the scheme.

Participants in the Scheme contribute up to 80% of their assessable income and a maximum of 7.5% per annum of the value of assets held. In the case of a couple, the applicant’s means are assessed as 50% of the couple’s combined income and assets. The first €36,000 of an individual’s assets, or €72,000 in the case of a couple, is not counted at all in the financial assessment. The capital value of an individual’s principal private residence is only included in the financial assessment for the first three years of their time in care. This is known as the three year cap.

Applicants to the Scheme can choose any public, voluntary or approved private nursing home. However, in order for financial support to be provided, the nursing home must have an available bed and be able to cater for the applicant's particular need. The HSE's Nursing Homes Support Offices can advise an applicant on the options available to them.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Coverage

Ceisteanna (172)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

172. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health his plans to update the long-term illness scheme to include illnesses such as fibromyalgia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49587/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The LTI Scheme was established under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended). The conditions covered by the LTI are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of Thalidomide. Under the LTI Scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge.

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Scheme at this time. However, I wish to inform the Deputy that it is proposed that the LTI Scheme would be included as part of a review of the basis for existing hospital and medication charges, to be carried out under commitments given in the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.

For people who are not eligible for the LTI Scheme, there are other arrangements which protect them from excessive medicine costs.

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

People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the HSE can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. 

People who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of GP consultations. 

Disability Definitions

Ceisteanna (173)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

173. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the status of plans to recognise the condition fibromyalgia as a disability; if his attention has been drawn to the distress and suffering caused as a result of the condition; the reason it has not received this recognition to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49588/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome associated with wide-spread pain and fatigue. It is labelled a syndrome as fibromyalgia is a collection of signs, symptoms and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause. Fibromyalgia is not classified as a disability and there are currently no plans for the reclassification of fibromyalgia. HSE Disability Services provide personal and social supports based on the needs of the individual, rather than the provision of services based on a specific diagnosis or condition.

It is important to note that to help the sufferers of this condition with the cost of the treatment, any patient is eligible to apply to the Drugs Payment Scheme or to apply for a Medical Card. Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €124 a month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals with ongoing expenditure on medicines. People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the HSE can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family.  

People who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of GP consultations. General medical services are provided by GPs. If the patients clinical condition warrants a referral to a Consultant then their GP will organise that course of action.

Disease Incidence

Ceisteanna (174)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

174. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health his plans to establish a registry of persons suffering from fibromyalgia in order that it is possible to ascertain the number of persons suffering from the condition; his view on whether it would be prudent to establish the registry alongside that of arthritis in view of the fact that more persons retire early as a result of fibromyalgia than arthritis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49589/19]

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.

Orthodontic Services Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (175)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

175. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the number of children and adolescents in Cork city and county on a waiting list for orthodontic assessment and treatment, respectively; the length of time they have been waiting; the number of consultants providing such services in the location; the vacancies in this regard; the steps being taken to reduce the waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49596/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Hospital Waiting Lists Data

Ceisteanna (176, 177)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

176. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if information regarding public hospital waiting lists for surgery (details supplied) will be provided. [49597/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

177. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if information regarding public hospital waiting list (details supplied) will be provided. [49599/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 and 177 together.

Reducing waiting time for patients for hospital operations and procedures is a key priority for Government. In this regard, the Government is committed to improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures.

Budget 2020 announced that the Government has further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the NTPF increasing from €75 million in 2019 to €100 million in 2020.

My Department is working with the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund to develop the Scheduled Care Access Plan 2020. The National Service Plan 2020 will set out HSE planned activity level for the year ahead, while the NTPF will work with the hospital system to provide additionality to improve access to inpatient/daycase treatment and with a particular focus on hospital outpatient services.

In this regard, I would encourage all hospital groups and individual hospitals to engage with the NTPF to identify waiting list proposals for the remainder of this year and for 2020.

The data requested by the deputy is outlined in the documents at the link and is also published on the NTPF website on a monthly basis.

Tables - Hospital Waiting Lists

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Ceisteanna (178)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

178. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the reason for the delay in providing equipment to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49623/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Ceisteanna (179)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

179. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the level of capital funding allocated towards the development of the new facilities and upgrading of existing facilities at a health facility (details supplied); the works undertaken to date in 2019; the expenditure in this regard; the works to be undertaken at the facility in 2020; the projected expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49655/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (180)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

180. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter regarding a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49656/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Home Help Service Provision

Ceisteanna (181)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

181. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when extra home help hours will be offered in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49662/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Respite Care Services Provision

Ceisteanna (182)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

182. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the reason no respite or respite grant has been made available in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49663/19]

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 an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Card Applications

Ceisteanna (183)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

183. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when an emergency medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49664/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Organic Farming Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (184, 185, 186)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

184. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the budget allocated to the new organic farming scheme which opened on 19 November 2018; the amount of same to be allocated to successful applicants to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49475/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

185. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the terms of the organic farming scheme which opened on 19 November 2019 (details supplied); if he will consider compensating the unsuccessful applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49476/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

186. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of suckler farmers who were successful in applying to the organic farming scheme which opened on 19 November 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49477/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 184 to 186, inclusive, together.

The Organic Farming Scheme is one of the most successful schemes under our current Rural Development Programme.  A budget of €56m was allocated to fund the Scheme opened during the period 2014 to 2020 which includes the successful applicants under the November 2018 opening.

My colleague Minister Doyle established an Organics Strategy Group last year comprising relevant stakeholders and state bodies. Part of the remit of the Strategy Group was to consider the case for a possible re-opening of the Organic Farming Scheme. They recommended that it should be re-opened but on a targeted basis. The sectors targeted were areas for which there is a clear market demand, and which are critical to the further development of the Organic Sector, namely horticulture, cereals and dairy. This recommendation acknowledged that the budget was very limited given the success of the current scheme and the overall spending within the RDP.

The Scheme was opened for applications up to the 19 December 2018 and a total of 225 applications were received. A total of 58 applications were either withdrawn or were deemed ineligible.  Following the ranking and selection process, one applicant withdrew, 55 were successful and 111 farmers received letters informing them that they had been unsuccessful.  All unsuccessful applicants were given a right of appeal to the Organic Unit of my Department. It should be noted that, in 95% of the unsuccessful applications, the predominant enterprises were not from the targeted sectors identified when the Scheme was launched.

The breakdown by sector of the successful applicants is set out in the table.

Sector

Number

Cereals

24

Dairy

12

Beef

17

Horticulture

1

Lamb

1

Total

55

Under current RDP rules, the latest date that the Organic Farming Scheme could commence under this RDP was 1 January 2019. The targeted Scheme re-opened on the 19 November 2018 and closed for applications on 19 December 2018.  The terms and conditions of the Scheme state that the number of applications to be accepted into the Scheme will be determined by funding. Applicants would therefore have been aware that, as with many schemes, the submission of a valid application did not guarantee entry to the Scheme and any expense they undertook before entry to the Scheme was at their own risk.

As part of the eligibility process applicants were required to submit a BPS application, which had a closing date of 15 May 2019, and also had to submit their Organic training certificate by 1 September 2019.  The determination of eligible applications and the ranking and selection process could only commence following the deadline for receipt of educational certification. 

It is important to note that this was a targeted re-opening and that I fully expect that there will be a new Organics Scheme under the next CAP. I would encourage all stakeholders to make their views known on the shape of this future scheme as part of the wider CAP consultation process.