Medical Cards

Ceisteanna (891)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

891. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health when the adjusted income limits for over 70s medical cards will come into force (details supplied). [26872/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health (General Practitioner Service and Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) Bill 2020, enacted on 2nd August 2020, provided for an increase to the gross medical card income limits for those aged 70 and over to €550 per week for a single person and to €1,050 per week for a couple.

Although it had been originally intended that this measure would be implemented from July this year, it was not possible to legislate for the necessary amendments to the 1970 Health Act to provide for this measure until there was a fully constituted Dáil and Seanad.

While the relevant section providing for the increased limits has not yet been commenced, decisions on the associated funding requirements and potential implementation date are being actively considered.

Home Help Service

Ceisteanna (892)

Johnny Mythen

Ceist:

892. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health the number of home help hours provided in County Wexford; the number of clients who received home help; the number of hours provided by the HSE; the number of hours provided by agency staff in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26876/20]

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.

Home Help Service

Ceisteanna (893)

Johnny Mythen

Ceist:

893. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health the number of home help hours provided in County Wexford, by month in 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26877/20]

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 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (894)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

894. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to an increase in drug or alcohol abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic; if his Department has received representations from organisations, charities or NGOs expressing concern regarding drug and alcohol abuse during the pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26886/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Covid-19 pandemic has created uncertainty and anxiety for everyone and particularly for those affected by drug and alcohol addiction.

At the onset of Covid-29, the Department and the HSE developed harm reduction posters for people with substance use issues. Key harm reduction messages were included in both posters to keep people as safe as possible during Covid-19 and reminding them to stay in contact with drug and alcohol services.  

The HSE raises awareness of the dangers associated with drugs through its Drugs.ie website. In response to Covid-19, the site contains important resources relating to drug use during this period, including new drug trends and issues, such as nitrous oxide and drug overdose.

The Standing Committee of the National Oversight Committee held a special meeting on the impact of Covid-19 in June.  A range of stakeholders including representatives from the community and voluntary sectors, drug and alcohol task forces, and the HSE reported on emerging issues.  

An assessment of the impact of Covid-19 on people who use drugs and on service providers is being undertaken by the Department. It includes an online survey of drug services to capture their experiences from the front line and case studies on how drug and alcohol services have adapted.

The final report regarding the Covid-19 assessment will be presented to the National Oversight Committee. It is also envisioned that the findings will be used to inform the mid-term review of our National Drugs Strategy.

The Department has set up a working group with drug and alcohol service providers to develop a 'Framework for the Restoration of Drug and Alcohol Services', so that services can resume in a planned and appropriate manner in line with public health advice.

I have approved additional funding to support the resumption of drug and alcohol services including the adaptation of services, premises, online meetings and personal protective equipment.  

I believe drug and alcohol services provide essential supports for people with addiction issues. I expect to receive the Framework Document by the end of October.

Suicide Incidence

Ceisteanna (895)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

895. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to an increase in the suicide rate here during the Covid-19 pandemic; and if his Department has received representations from organisations, charities or NGOs in which concern was expressed regarding an increase in self-harm or suicide during 2020. [26887/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Concern has been expressed by some, including in correspondence to me, that there has been, and is likely to continue to be, an increase in mental health issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, including in suicide, suicidal ideation and self-harm. 

Agencies have indicated significant increases in contacts for online services. At the same time, however, some mental health services have noted that patients have been remarkably resilient during the crisis and are managing their mental health illness, in spite of the pandemic and its restrictions. However, the Department and HSE are continually monitoring service provision to direct resources as required.  €2.2 million has been allocated for a mental health promotion and well-being campaign, through enhanced online supports, and to support the HSE psychosocial strategy. This will enable implementation of integrated tele-health solutions and improve existing online interventions.

 It is important that we continue to build resilience in all communities to reduce the incidence of suicide and self-harm. It is also important to ensure that, where such a tragedy occurs, we have sufficient supports in place to help those who need it.

The HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) in tasked with implementing Connecting for Life Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide. NOSP works closely with CHOs, local agencies and communities to deliver strategies and services in the most appropriate manner, in line with resource availability and evolving service requirements.

I am also referring this PQ to the HSE to ensure a comprehensive reply to the Deputy.

Ministerial Appointments

Ceisteanna (896)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

896. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if vetting was conducted of the experts appointed by the previous Minister for Health to the expert panel on nursing homes established in 2020. [26888/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

From both a clinical and a general operational perspective, the day-to-day running and management of a nursing home in a landscape with COVID-19 has required significant adjustment both in terms of preparation and mitigation against the virus, and in circumstances where the virus has appeared. These operational considerations will remain part of the landscape for the time being. Given these issues, it was critical that the package of expertise provided by the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel would capture all of the skills and experience required to effectively deliver the terms of reference of the group, including operational and nursing experience regarding nursing home care. These were the primary considerations of the former Minister in establishing the Panel. The membership of the Expert Panel reflected the requisite skills and experience, including frontline experience during the pandemic from both a nursing home and hospital perspective.

Drugs Payment Scheme

Ceisteanna (897)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

897. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 392 of 15 October 2019, the estimated cost in 2021 of reducing the monthly threshold for the drug payment scheme by €1; the estimated cost to reduce the threshold to €114 and €100; and the estimated full-year cost of same. [26898/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Officials in my Department sought clarification from the Deputy in relation to this pq on the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS).

The estimated full year cost to reduce the DPS monthly threshold by €1 to €123 is €730k.

The estimated full year cost to reduce the DPS monthly threshold to €114 is €7.2m. 

The estimated full year cost to reduce the DPS monthly threshold to €100 is €17.4m.

It should be noted that the above costings do not take into account any existing sub-threshold persons or families who may become active claimants upon reduction of the threshold.

Autism Support Services

Ceisteanna (898)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

898. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the reason there is no diagnostic pathway for adults with query diagnosis of autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26901/20]

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.  

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

Autism Support Services

Ceisteanna (899)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

899. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health if holders of a full medical card can receive HSE funding towards the cost of an external assessment for adults with query diagnosis of autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26902/20]

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.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (900)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

900. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health when cancer treatment in Galway University Hospital will commence for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26903/20]

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.

Medical Aids and Appliances

Ceisteanna (901)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

901. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health if the HSE plans to introduce the Dexcom G5 CGM transmitter for patients with type 1 diabetes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26904/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug scheme under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (902)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

902. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health when a child (details supplied) in County Donegal will receive an appointment in Temple Street hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26905/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer most scheduled care activity in March, April, and May of this year. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in accordance with the advice of the World Health Organisation.

The resumption of services from June onwards has allowed for increased activity, with the HSE utilising innovative methods including telemedicine to facilitate patient appointments. Patient safety remains at the forefront of service resumption. To ensure services are re-introduced in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols which has resulted in reduced capacity and activity

The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund has also recommenced arranging treatment in both private and public hospitals for clinically suitable patients who have been waiting for long periods on public hospital waiting lists.

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 is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures.  It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 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.

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

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (903)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

903. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive a physiotherapy appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26906/20]

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.

Disability Services Funding

Ceisteanna (904)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Ceist:

904. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health if the HSE will financially support Milltown House, Carndonagh, County Donegal to reopen its hydrotherapy pool; if his attention has been drawn to the serious impact the loss of the service and therapy has had on disabled persons in the Inishowen area of the county. [26913/20]

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.

Hospital Facilities

Ceisteanna (905, 906)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Ceist:

905. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health the timeline for the completion of the upgrade works to Carndonagh Community Hospital, County Donegal. [26914/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Ceist:

906. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health the timeline for the completion of the upgrade works to Buncrana Community Hospital, County Donegal. [26915/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 905 and 906 together.

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.

Hospital Facilities

Ceisteanna (907)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Ceist:

907. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health the status of plans by the HSE to commence upgrade works to Lifford Community Hospital, County Donegal, in line with HIQA requirements; and the further status of plans to increase bed capacity at the hospital. [26916/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (908)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

908. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 283 of 9 September 2020, the National Immunisation Office policy on the availability of the HPV vaccine for an adult who has gone through a colposcopy and has received a prescription for the HPV vaccine from their consultant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26932/20]

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.

Counselling Services

Ceisteanna (909)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

909. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the budget allocation in 2020 for the counselling in primary care service for each of the nine community healthcare organisations; the amount in each CHO budget for counselling therapists employed on an agency basis; the amount of the budget from 2020 left in each CHO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26934/20]

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.

Primary Care Centres

Ceisteanna (910)

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

910. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Health when the commencement of the building of the primary healthcare centre in Finglas on the site of the Church of the Annunciation will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26944/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The development of primary care is central to the Government's objective to deliver a high quality, integrated and cost-effective health care system. 

Finglas has been identified as a high priority location for the development of a Primary Care Centre.   Approval for a HSE direct-build Primary Care Centre was approved in 2012.  Following a review of a number of sites in the area, a Dublin City Council owned property on Mellowes Road, Finglas was identified as the preferred site. Subject to planning permission, the commercial terms for the sale were agreed with the officials of Dublin City Council and approved by the HSE.

The planning permission was appealed to An Bord Pleanála where an inspector upheld the Dublin City Council decision. However, in February 2015, An Bord Pleanála took the unexpected decision not to grant planning permission for the Finglas primary care centre due to the loss of informal open space.

Following this refusal, HSE Estates in conjunction with local Primary Care Services Teams identified an alternative site for a new Primary Care Centre in Finglas and initiated discussions with Dublin City Council in relation to purchasing this site on terms agreeable to both parties. 

Feasibility studies on the site are still progressing.  The HSE will be tendering for the services of a Design Team to progress the proposed project to completion in the near future, subject to agreeable conclusion to the site purchase.