Education Costs

Ceisteanna (751)

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

751. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Health the consideration being given to ending the disparity in financial support between clinical psychology doctoral courses and educational and counselling psychology doctoral courses, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26779/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In relation to the particular query raised, this is a matter for the Health Service Executive. I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible. 

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (752, 753)

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

752. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the amount Ireland has contributed to the RescEU stockpile to combat the Covid-19 crisis in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26884/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

753. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health the medical supplies Ireland has received from the RescEU stockpile to help in the fight against Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26885/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 752 and 753 together.

In March 2020, the European Commission decided to create a strategic rescEU stockpile of medical equipment, such as ventilators and protective masks, to help EU countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stockpile is jointly hosted by a number (currently six) of EU member states, which are  responsible for procuring, storing, and transporting the equipment to where it is most needed across the EU and other participating countries, under the direction of the European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

The rescEU reserve represents the “last resort” level of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, which can be activated for all types of natural and man-made hazards, such as floods, wildfires, and pandemics.

To date, Ireland has not received any supplies from the rescEU stockpile, nor has it signed up to become a host country for the joint stockpile.

Disability Services Provision

Ceisteanna (754)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

754. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health if an organisation (details supplied) can revert to a respite house. [27081/20]

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.

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

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (755, 756, 757)

Darren O'Rourke

Ceist:

755. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of passenger locator forms filled in to date by month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27231/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darren O'Rourke

Ceist:

756. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of persons who have filled in the passenger locator form since it went online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27232/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darren O'Rourke

Ceist:

757. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health the number of offences recorded to date for a failure to fill in the passenger locator form, for providing false or misleading information on the passenger locator form, for not providing an update of the information in section 3 of the form changes for the next 14 days or period of stay, or for a failure to give an officer who requests it information required to verify the details on this form; the number of prosecutions taken to date for offences to date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27234/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 755, 756 and 757 together.

The electronic COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form (ePLF) was launched in an online format for passengers arriving into Ireland on or after 26 August 2020.

SI 181/2020 provides for a number of offences related to the passenger locator form. The role of the Passenger Locator Form contact centre is to refer people where an offence is suspected. However, it is a matter for An Garda Siochána to decide to pursue any non compliance with these requirements.

Since 26 August, the Passenger Locator Form contact centre has referred 12 cases to An Garda Siochána for consideration.

Hospital Facilities

Ceisteanna (758)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

758. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the degree to which he expects to meet the requirements of the hospital building programme including that which refers to Naas General Hospital and all other hospitals nationwide in respect of which planning permission has been granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27259/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery and management of healthcare infrastructure and has advised that funding has been provided to progress the Day Procedures/Endoscopy, Oncology and Physical Therapy Unit at Naas General Hospital in 2020, and specifically capital funding has been made available to appoint technical consultants to progress the project.  

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.

At present the draft Capital Plan 2020 is being reviewed and revised to take account of the impact of Covid-19 which resulted in delays on many projects and the funding of an emergency Covid-19 programme of works. Once the HSE has finalised its Capital Plan for 2020, it will then be submitted to me for consideration.  

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (759)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

759. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which he expects to meet the costs of the health capital programme in all areas nationwide in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27260/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The capital allocation in 2020 for the construction and equipping of public health facilities is now €976m. This includes an increase in capital funding of €202m for emergency measures in response to COVID-19 in 2020. I am working with the Health Service Executive to develop a capital plan for the health services for 2020. My Department and the Health Service Executive maintain close contact regarding the capital funds available each year and the progress of major capital projects and programmes to ensure that there is a balanced capital spend each year.  The HSE actively manages the capital programme in order to ensure it has flexibility to progress as many projects as possible, nationwide within the available funding.

When, finalised HSE Capital Plan is submitted to me for approval with the consent of them Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Home Help Service

Ceisteanna (760)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

760. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if extra funding will be made available for home help to ensure that elderly persons can remain in their own homes for as long as possible. [27117/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

General Medical Services Scheme

Ceisteanna (761)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

761. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health his plans to include the acid reducer drug Major Famotidine on the list of drugs covered under the general medical scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26275/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Dental Services

Ceisteanna (762, 780, 783, 920, 955, 976)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

762. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health if additional funding for PPE is being provided to dental practices that cater for medical card patients; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some dental practices are refusing to take medical card patients as they have not received adequate PPE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26286/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

780. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26355/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

783. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health his plans to deliver on the promise that dentists in independent practice would be provided with personal protective equipment; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that due to the fact dentists have to finance the additional PPE costs, over 200 dentists have decided to resign from the medical card scheme since the start of 2020 with serious consequences for their former patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26363/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marian Harkin

Ceist:

920. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health the supports in place for dentists who were promised they would be provided with PPE in early May 2020 and have not received same and are financing the additional costs themselves (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26986/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

955. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to concerns raised by dentists in relation to the lack of provision of personal protective equipment for dentists in independent practice; his plans to address rising costs for dentists which have led to many withdrawing dental service which is negatively impacting upon children and special needs patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27167/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe Carey

Ceist:

976. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health the measures he has taken to address the concerns of the dental sector in relation to the increased costs of dental care created by Covid-19 especially personal protective equipment; the discussions that have taken place with the dental sector regarding changes to the current medical card scheme and also the problems facing children, special care and other patients who access care from the HSE Community Dental Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27276/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 762, 780, 783, 920, 955 and 976 together.

I am aware of the difficulties that the current Covid-19 pandemic poses for the dental profession. My Department, in conjunction with the HSE, is examining the issue of the provision of PPE across all parts of the health service, including health service contractors.

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides dental care free of charge to medical card holders aged 16 and over. These services are provided by over 1,400 independent dental practitioners who have a contract with the HSE. I understand that since the beginning of March 149 dentists have withdrawn from the DTSS and that 36 new applications are being processed. I expect due process to be followed in respect of any withdrawal from the terms of a DTSS contract, in particular regarding an appropriate period of notice. I also expect dentists to continue to honour their ethical and contractual obligations to patients during the notice withdrawal period, to either provide a service or to ensure that patients are referred to another dentist who will provide a service. The HSE will assist medical card holders in accessing such treatment, if required.

The DTSS will need to be revised in order to align it with modern evidence on oral health needs and provision of dental services. My Department is committed to reviewing the provision of dental care for those eligible for public services and will engage with representatives of the dental profession in this regard.

I am aware of the delays in accessing some services provided by the HSE, caused in part by the necessary concentration of resources at managing the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, I understand that the HSE expect most services to return to normal in due course.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (763)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

763. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if an appointment will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26290/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Maternity Services

Ceisteanna (764, 792, 795, 800, 811, 812, 824, 831, 856, 865, 888, 911, 925, 964)

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

764. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health his plans to facilitate partners of pregnant women accompanying them to their maternity hospital appointments; the date on which these accompaniments will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26293/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

792. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health if changes will be made to allow for partners to be present during childbirth [26414/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Francis Noel Duffy

Ceist:

795. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Health if he in conjunction with the HSE and NPHET will consider easing maternity service restrictions across maternity hospitals; if birthing partners will be allowed to be present at all pregnancy-related appointments, scans, labour and births; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26428/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Emer Higgins

Ceist:

800. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health the status of guidelines for maternity and prenatal care in Dublin hospitals within Level 3 restrictions; his views on the need to support women and their partners through their care [26434/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marian Harkin

Ceist:

811. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health his plans to ease the restrictions in terms of antenatal and maternity care in the context of allowing partners to attend scans and also attend the birth of their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26453/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Lahart

Ceist:

812. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health the reason for the decision to prevent partners from attending labour, birth, scans or appointments that are pregnancy related; if the decision will be reviewed in view of the isolation for expectant mothers and their partners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26459/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

824. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if the current Covid-19 restrictions in maternity services will be reviewed to enable partners of pregnant women to attend appointments and births; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26508/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Emer Higgins

Ceist:

831. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health his plans to allow mothers to be accompanied by their partners in maternity wards and during prenatal care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26573/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

856. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health if the current Covid-19 restrictions in maternity services will be removed to allow partners and birth partners of pregnant women to be present for prenatal scans, appointments, labour and at childbirth [26648/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

865. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health when fathers will be allowed to attend prenatal appointments and births of their children; if this is a Departmental directive; if it is a decision by each health group; the rationale for this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26703/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

888. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Health if each maternity hospital has a birthing pool; and if not, the estimated cost of ensuring each maternity hospital has a birthing pool. [26848/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

911. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health his views on a matter raised by a person (details supplied) regarding restrictions imposed on attending maternity appointments at University Hospital Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26945/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Cormac Devlin

Ceist:

925. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health if he has received an update from maternity hospitals on when they will lift restrictions on partners attending antenatal scans, appointments, labour and the hour post birth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26995/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

964. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health the engagement he has had personally on the lifting of restrictions in maternity hospitals for partners of new mothers [27193/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 764, 792, 795, 800, 811, 812, 824, 831, 856, 865, 888, 911, 925 and 964 together.

I acknowledge that the current restrictions in maternity hospitals are presenting difficulties and this is hugely regrettable. However, it is necessary to reduce footfall in order to protect women, babies, staff and our maternity service as a whole.

Maternity hospitals have performed well during the pandemic and have continued to keep women, babies and staff safe. The fact that there have been no Covid maternal deaths in this country, and that we have a had a low incidence in pregnant women, suggests that the current approach is working.

However, we must remain vigilant as services resume and higher numbers of people attend hospitals. Maternity hospitals rely on very specialised personnel; should an outbreak of COVID-19 occur in a maternity hospital, the ability to provide safe, quality care would be severely impacted. It should be remembered that maternity hospitals care for fragile infants at the extremes of prematurity.

All maternity hospitals are challenged by the pandemic, but those challenges vary considerably. Decisions on any restrictions are therefore made, implemented and reviewed at hospital level.

Decisions to restrict visitors in our maternity hospitals have not been taken lightly. Management and staff are acutely aware of the very important support provided by partners at the time of birth. I have been assured that maternity hospitals wish to facilitate this support as far as possible. In that context, I can assure the Deputy that any restrictions currently in place have been minimised as much as possible and will be subject to ongoing review.

I note that restrictions have eased somewhat in certain hospitals in recent weeks and I hope this will continue. However, the recent rise in the numbers of people infected with the virus, including healthcare workers, is very worrying and may impact on the pace of the easing of restrictions.

The Deputy may wish to note that the National Women & Infants Health Programme has developed a guidance document on restrictions in maternity hospitals/units and this issued to all maternity services last week. The paper seeks to ensure a consistent national approach to visitor restrictions, as far as is practicable and having due regard to local circumstances. Each maternity service/network has been requested to review visiting arrangements on a weekly basis, in the context of the issues and factors identified in the paper.

Hospital Services

Ceisteanna (765)

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

765. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health the number of additional ICU beds that have been provided since March 2020 nationally and in Naas General Hospital, respectively; the number of new hospital consultants appointed since March 2020 nationally and in Naas General Hospital, respectively; the equivalent figures in relation to additional ICU beds and new consultants planned to the end of 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26294/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

At the start of the year, permanent adult critical care capacity in Ireland stood at 255 beds, according to the National Office of Clinical Audit. This included 204 Level 3 ICU beds and 51 Level 2 HDU beds. Funding for a further 40 adult critical care beds and two paediatric critical care beds was provided as part of the response to Covid-19 in March 2020.

Surge capacity supports the provision of critical care as required, with the number open on any given day subject to fluctuation in respect of available staff. At the outset, substantial work was carried out to develop a critical care capacity plan, including identification of additional ICU and ventilation spaces. The development of the plan, including consideration of staffing, ventilators and oxygen capacity, involved considerable input from clinical, operational and estates perspective, all of which was essential to the intensive effort to deliver the necessary surge capacity.

Given the high complexity nature of critical care, planning for provision of additional capacity must be clinically led in order to ensure appropriate provision of high quality, safe care that supports wider strategic reform. Additional critical care beds must be appropriately located to ensure provision of highly complex, specialised care, and to support and enable strategic reform and service provision. This is key to ensuring that investment delivers optimal value for money, and is in line with the Sláintecare strategic direction, which aims to ensure delivery of the right care, in the right place at the right time.  

Alongside strategic planning for critical care capacity expansion, workforce planning is essential in order to ensure that sufficient numbers of trained staff are in place when additional capacity is ready for use. Such workforce planning should take account of requirements in training and recruitment timelines across these areas to ensure that new capacity is appropriately staffed in a timely way. 

In relation to the specific data requested, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (766)

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

766. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health if data (details supplied) will be provided regularly in order to increase public clarity and confidence in relation to the reasoning and decision making regarding Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26295/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

At the start of the year, permanent adult critical care capacity in Ireland stood at 255 beds, according to the National Office of Clinical Audit. This included 204 Level 3 ICU beds and 51 Level 2 HDU beds. Funding for a further 40 adult critical care beds and two paediatric critical care beds was provided as part of the response to Covid-19 in March 2020.

Surge capacity supports the provision of critical care as required, with the number open on any given day subject to fluctuation in respect of available staff. At the outset, substantial work was carried out to develop a critical care capacity plan, including identification of additional ICU and ventilation spaces. The development of the plan, including consideration of staffing, ventilators and oxygen capacity, involved considerable input from clinical, operational and estates perspective, all of which was essential to the intensive effort to deliver the necessary surge capacity.

Training was provided to over 1,500 nursing staff to allow them to provide support to critical care as required. The number of critical care beds open and staffed at any one time can flex with demand, and staffing challenges and clinical risk continue to increase as the number of surge beds increases.

The acute hospital system and critical care service coped with the initial surge in admissions during the early stages of the pandemic, and were not overwhelmed, as was seen elsewhere, largely due to the success of public health measures in flattening the curve and the fall-off in non-Covid care. 

My Department and the HSE have been engaging in regard to critical care capacity requirements in the public hospital system and consideration is ongoing.

Regarding the Deputy's queries on expected ICU capacity in a non-Covid environment and the expected occupancy levels at each stage of the roadmap, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (767)

Matt Shanahan

Ceist:

767. Deputy Matt Shanahan asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding a refusal to be swabbed for Covid-19; the refusal rate at the centre; the legal powers of the HSE to demand that swabs be taken in circumstances in which disease risk is suspected but persons refuse permission; the rates of refusal at other centres nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26303/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Stroke Care

Ceisteanna (768)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

768. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the number of persons living with a stroke related disability or who have had a stroke in Ireland; the area from which the figure comes from; if research has been undertaken on the projected number of persons who will be living with a stroke related disability or who will have a stroke in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26318/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this question may be answered better by the HSE, I am forwarding it to that organisation for a response.

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (769)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

769. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the number of therapist hours going to testing centre duties by each CHO in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26319/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (770)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

770. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the way in which he plans to leverage the clinical and operational expertise embedded in community services for the new test and trace services; if it will mean further redeployment of therapists and other HSCPs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26320/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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