Questions Nos. 811 and 812 answered with Question No. 764.

Meat Processing Plants

Ceisteanna (813)

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

813. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the dates on which and the centres at which testing has taking place since 1 June 2020 in respect of serial Covid-19 testing at food processing plants; the number tested at each site on each date; the number of confirmed cases identified per testing cycle at each individual site; the average time for delivery of results per testing cycle at each confirmed site in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26476/20]

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. 

National Public Health Emergency Team

Ceisteanna (814)

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

814. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health the details of all NPHET recommendations conveyed to him and his Department in respect of meat processing plants and the food processing industry; the actions undertaken by his Department on foot of each of these recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26478/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, the recommendations from the NPHET meetings are communicated to me via a letter from the Acting Chief Medical Officer (ACMO) and Chair of NPHET shortly after the conclusion of each meeting. I have outlined in a table below the recommendations that I have received from the NPHET in relation to meat processing plants and the food processing industry. The Deputy may wish to note that the letters from NPHET which include the recommendations are publicly available on my Department’s website at the following link –

www.gov.ie/en/collection/ba4aa0-letters-from-the-cmo-to-the-minister-for-health/#august.

As the Deputy will also be aware, there are actions on foot of NPHET recommendations that are appropriate for my Department, and others that are appropriate for other Departments and Agencies.

The National Standing Oversight Committee on Cases and Outbreaks of COVID-19 in High Risk settings - Food Processing and Construction sector was established in August 2020 to maintain an ongoing review of the impact of COVID-19 in high risk industries. The membership of this Committee includes relevant Government Departments and Agencies to ensure a cross Government approach is taken to such sectors.

The “Return to Work Safely Protocol - COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers” was published on 9 May 2020 by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. It provides clear guidance to employers and to workers on the measures that must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Specific sectors may need to introduce additional safeguards, but this document sets out the standard set of measures to provide protection against the threat of COVID-19.

If the Deputy would like further details regarding the discussions at NPHET on the subject of meat processing plants and the food processing industry, and the recommendations and actions arising therefrom, the minutes of the NPHET meetings are publicly available on my Department’s website at the following link –

www.gov.ie/en/collection/691330-national-public-health-emergency-team-covid-19-coronavirus/.

Date

Recommendation communicated by NPHET to Minister for Health

4/8/2020

The NPHET recommended a series of targeted actions and supports at known areas of infection risk, including vulnerable groups and high-risk workplace environments, to immediately contain current outbreaks and to put in place sustainable measures to mitigate the risk of further outbreaks.

Details of the recommended actions and supports can be found in the appendix to the letter of 4th August from the Acting Chief Medical Officer (ACMO) to Minister Donnelly, available at the following link - www.gov.ie/en/collection/ba4aa0-letters-from-the-cmo-to-the-minister-for-health/#august.

7/8/2020

The NPHET emphasised the importance of proactive testing in high risk population groups and high risk workplace settings and noted that the serial programme of testing in nursing homes will recommence next week and that the HSE’s newly established National Oversight Group for the food processing industry is considering the most appropriate and proactive approach to surveillance and testing within than industry.

 

The NPHET reiterated its concerns in relation to the vulnerability of high-risk populations and high-risk workplaces and reiterated the urgency with which is recommendations of the 4th August should be implemented.

17/8/2020

Public health teams should adopt a rapid, robust and comprehensive public health response to cases in high risk settings such as food processing and construction sectors in particular and should apply a very low threshold for mass testing of employees in such settings once an initial case is identified (subject to public health risk assessment).

 

In line with the recommendations of the National Outbreak Control Team (NOCT), the establishment by the HSE of a National Standing Oversight Committee on COVID-19 for food processing plants to maintain an ongoing review of the impact of COVID-19 on this industry, to be available to update guidelines and to oversee the establishment of a follow-up NOCT in the event of any resurgence of outbreaks.

 

The NPHET agreed the interim recommendations of the  “Investigation into a Series of Outbreaks of COVID-19 in Meat Processing Plants in Ireland” and further recommended that the HSE’s newly established National Standing Oversight Committee for such facilities considers, as an immediate action, the development of the most appropriate and proactive approach to surveillance and testing within the food processing industry.

Protected Disclosures

Ceisteanna (815)

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

815. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 740 of 15 September 2020, the number of protected disclosures made by HIQA staff directly to HIQA management in each of the years 2015 to 2019, inclusive, and to date in 2020; the number of staff concerned in each year who are currently working on a full-time basis with HIQA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26479/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The following information has been provided to me by HIQA:

The table below provides information on the number of protected disclosures made by HIQA employees from 2015 to date:

2020 to date

0

2019

1

2018

0

2017

1 (anonymous)

2016

1

2015

1

One staff member who made a protected disclosure is working on a full-time basis with HIQA. All protected disclosures are investigated under HIQA’s policies and procedures, and reported in annual reports published on www.hiqa.ie.

Dental Services

Ceisteanna (816, 817)

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

816. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health if he will publish the legal opinion obtained by his Department in 1996 regarding the reason dental technicians cannot register with the Dental Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26480/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Matt Carthy

Ceist:

817. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Health his plans to facilitate the registration of dental technicians with the Dental Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26481/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 816 and 817 together.

The Dental Council, under the Dentists Act 1985, establishes and maintains registers relating to dentistry, namely:

- Register of Dentists

- Register of Dental Specialists

- Register of Hygienists

- Register of Dental Nurses

- Register of Clinical Dental Technicians

There are currently no plans to create a register for dental technicians but the Department is open to discussing this issue with the Dental Council.

Currently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the obligation for Departmental staff to work remotely, it is not possible to check the archived files that may contain the legal opinion referred to. I will revert to the Deputy when these files can be accessed.   

Primary Care Centres

Ceisteanna (818)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

818. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health if his policy position and that of the HSE regarding the development of primary care centres will be clarified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26486/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The development of Primary Care Centres (PCCs) supports the shift from acute care to primary care which is a key priority for the Government and accords with the vision of a reformed health service set out in Sláintecare.  

Both my Department and the HSE, which has the primary responsibility for both the provision and the maintenance and operation of Primary Care Centres,  are fully committed to the Sláintecare programme, and the  development of PCCs  will continue to be an important building block in enabling the vision of Sláintecare to become  a reality. The centres provide a setting in which a wide range of health professionals can deliver better care, closer to people's homes in their local communities.  

There are currently 135 PCCs  operational throughout the country, with six of these having opened to date in 2020.  A further eight are expected  be completed before the end of the year.  Approximately 64 further sites are at various stages of development from pre-planning to construction. 

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (819)

Chris Andrews

Ceist:

819. Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health if a summary of the evidence that sporting participation among children, especially team sports, can be a factor in the spread of Covid-19 cases will be provided [26488/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I can assure the Deputy that the public health advice relating to Covid-19 and it's impact is kept under continuing review by the NPHET and the Government. I would also wish to underline the acute awareness of the Government of the important role which sporting activities play in communities across Ireland, and the severe impact which the restrictions that we have been living under for much of this year have had, in particular on younger people.

As the Deputy is aware, the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 was published by the Government on 15 September. This Framework sets out Ireland's approach to managing and living with COVID-19 in a range of areas over the next 6 - 9 months. The Plan provides for five levels of response, each with a number of measures designed to help us all lower COVID-19 transmission and setting out what is permitted at that moment in time.

Each of the levels contains a “basket” of measures which are intended, collectively, to contribute to lowering the risk of transmission of the virus in relation to the anticipated degree of risk at a given time. The set of measures, individually, do not comprise a list of activities or places which are equally safe. Instead, they are “baskets” of measures which:

- Are informed by public health understanding of the disease

- Recognise that we can and must prioritise some activities over others

During this pandemic, the application of the public health advice measures to suppress the disease transmission is intended to minimise the risks to public health while attempting to strike an appropriate balance in:

- prioritising some activities over others, including health and social care services, education and other essential needs.

- protecting work and economic activity, and other key societal interests such as sports and important family gatherings, thereby allowing as much of society and business to continue as “normally” as possible while continuing to make every effort to suppress the virus.  

To inform national efforts in response to COVID-19, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has undertaken a significant body of work and developed evidence summaries to answer specific research questions posed by the NPHET. The HIQA evidence summary for the Spread of Covid-19 by children was published on 21 August last and is available on its website at www.hiqa.ie/sites/default/files/2020-08/Evidence-Summary-for-spread-of-Covid-19-by-children-.pdf. This document also provides some evidence demonstrating where the spread of Covid-19 has been linked to children's sporting activities.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has published guidance to assist with the return to sports activities for children and adolescents which is available at www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/sportandrecreation/. These recommendations outline both the necessary measures which should be taken prior to the return of children to organised sports, as well as the more general ongoing measures which need to be taken to continue to reduce the risk posed by COVID-19. These measures are aimed at minimising the risk of COVID-19 to children while enabling a returning to sports activities.

In general, COVID-19 spreads when individuals and groups come into close contact with one another, enabling the virus to move from one person to another. It is thereby considered prudent to regard team sports as carrying a higher risk of virus transmission occurring, as opposed to sports which involve less close contact among individuals and where a distance of 2 metres between participants can be maintained.

The number of people allowed to gather in different scenarios in the Government Framework are based on a review of international practice and the judgment of public health experts. It seeks to balance the risks of different types of gatherings against the desire to allow normal activities to proceed in so far as possible.

The Deputy should note that the numbers should not be considered a target - they are the maximum recommended number. It’s always safer to meet less people, less often, for less time. If we do this, we have a better chance of keeping to the lower Levels in the Framework, and continuing to keep businesses, schools, and healthcare services open, while also protecting the most vulnerable.

Further information on the public health measures currently in place under the different Levels can be found at  https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/resilience-recovery-2020-2021-plan-for-living-with-covid-19/.

Medical Cards

Ceisteanna (820)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

820. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health when the HSE clinical advisory group report on medical cards will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26492/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE Clinical Advisory Group (CAG) was established in December 2019 to undertake a review regarding the provision of medical cards in cases of terminal illness. The final report arising from the review of the CAG was recently submitted to my Department. I am currently giving careful consideration to the recommendations contained within the report alongside Department officials. A decision on the publication of the report will be taken in due course.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (821)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

821. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the funding being made available to a person (details supplied) with disabilities whodoes not have access to their usual outlets or day care as a result of Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26501/20]

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.

Mental Health Guidelines

Ceisteanna (822)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

822. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the protocols for giving sedatives to persons with dementia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26503/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In line with a recommendation from the National Dementia Strategy, my Department and the HSE's National Dementia Office have developed a national clinical guideline on the appropriate prescribing of psychotropic medication for non-cognitive symptoms in people with dementia. The Guideline, which was published in December 2019, provides evidence-based recommendations on the indications and risks of psychotropic medications for a person with dementia who has non-cognitive symptoms, such as anxiety or agitation. 

With regard to protocols for giving sedatives, as this is an operational matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Mental Health Services

Question No. 824 answered with Question No. 764.

Ceisteanna (823)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

823. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health the mental health budget between 2007 and 2012, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26507/20]

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.

Question No. 824 answered with Question No. 764.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (825)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

825. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Health the financial support provided by his Department to an organisation (details supplied) since 2010, on an annual basis. [26513/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

There were 2 payments made to this organisation since 2010.

- In 2012, there was a payment of €60,000 for the purchase of a new ambulance.

- In 2016, there was a payment of €23,000 towards the purchase of a new ambulance.

These payments were under a scheme, part-funded by the National Lottery. This scheme is no longer operated through the Department of Health.

Dental Services

Ceisteanna (826)

Alan Dillon

Ceist:

826. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health his plans to alleviate the waiting times being imposed on children and their parents when availing of State provided orthodontic care in counties Mayo and Galway; his plans to tackle the waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26529/20]

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 (827)

Alan Dillon

Ceist:

827. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health the number of children on waiting lists for State-provided orthodontic care in counties Mayo and Galway; the number who have been categorised as having a high level of need for orthodontic treatment but have been subjected to a waiting time of 36 months and more; the number of orthodontists assigned to tacking general waiting lists in the counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26530/20]

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.

Speech and Language Therapy

Ceisteanna (828)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

828. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health his plans to deal with the waiting lists for speech and language therapy in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26557/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, recognises the need to improve services for both children and adults with disabilities through better implementation and by working together across Government in a better way. 

The  Government commits to prioritising early diagnosis and access to services for children and ensuring that the most effective interventions are provided for each child, to guarantee the best outcomes.

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

European Health Insurance Card

Ceisteanna (829)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

829. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health if an Irish citizen with a European health insurance card, formerly known as an E111 card, will be covered in the UK post Brexit [26559/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Arrangements for Irish residents wishing to use European Health Insurance Cards in the UK before the end of the transition period remain unchanged. The maintenance of European Health Insurance Card rights in respect of the UK after that time is part of the on-going EU-UK Future Relationship negotiations.

It is also important to note that both the Irish and British Governments are committed to maintaining, in so far as possible, the current healthcare arrangements under the Common Travel Area (CTA).  Under the CTA, Irish citizens and British citizens who live in, work in, or visit the other state have the right to access healthcare there. The Government is working to ensure that new arrangements will provide for continued access to the health services, including necessary healthcare while on a temporary stay, between Ireland and the UK, including on the island of Ireland, which patients in both jurisdictions currently access.

Hospital Data

Ceisteanna (830)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

830. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health the number of patient discharges from hospitals in which patients were discharged to no fixed address including bed and breakfasts, hostels, hotels and so on to date in 2020, in tabular form. [26570/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond to the deputy directly.