Hospital Groups

Ceisteanna (260)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Ceist:

260. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health the steps which will be taken to ensure Saolta Group undertake the urgent implementation of all necessary improvements laid bare by the recent HIQA Your Experience survey (details supplied). [29375/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The National Maternity Strategy recognised the need to listen to women’s voices in order to develop and improve our maternity services and recommended that a National Maternity Experience Survey be undertaken. In that regard, I am very much welcome the publication of the results of the first survey, which I am pleased to note are overwhelmingly positive.

It is, I believe, really important that we recognise what is working well in some of our maternity services and extend that right across the system. However, it is just as important to recognise that some women did not have a positive experience. We must learn from those experiences too and address the areas where improvement is required. In that regard, the survey has informed quality improvement initiatives and each maternity hospital and Community Healthcare Organisation has now developed a quality improvement plan with clearly-defined actions to improve maternity care.

I am fully committed to improving women health services and am very confident that this survey will help us to deliver the safe, high quality, compassionate and responsive maternity service that the women of Ireland expect and deserve. With regard to the Deputy's specific query regarding the steps which will be taken by Saolta Hospital Group to ensure improvements are implemented, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to the Deputy directly.

National Maternity Strategy

Ceisteanna (261)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Ceist:

261. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health the steps which will be taken to ensure the speedy implementation of the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026 at Letterkenny University Hospital, including the supported care pathway which specifies provision for home birth. [29376/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The National Maternity Strategy - Creating A Better Future Together 2016 - 2026 - aims to ensure that appropriate care pathways are in place in order that mothers, babies and families get the right care, at the right time, by the right team and in the right place. Similarly, it recognises that, while all pregnant women need a certain level of support, some will require more specialised care. Accordingly, it proposes an integrated model that delivers care at the lowest level of complexity and encompasses all the necessary safety nets in line with patient safety principles. The model consists of three care pathways - supported, assisted and specialised.

The Supported Care Pathway is intended for normal-risk mothers and babies, with midwives leading and delivering care within a multidisciplinary framework. Care will be delivered by the community midwifery team, with most antenatal and postnatal care being provided in the community and home settings. The woman can exercise a choice with her healthcare professional with regard to the birth setting, which may be in an Alongside Birth Centre in the hospital, or at home. The Strategy makes it clear that women should be offered choice regarding their preferred pathway of care, in line with their clinical needs and best practice.

As the phased implementation of the Strategy is being led by the National Women & Infants Health Programme, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to the Deputy directly regarding implementation of the Strategy in Letterkenny University Hospital.

Maternity Services

Ceisteanna (262)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

262. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health his views on the results of the recent HIQA Your Experience survey on experiences of maternity care in Ireland (details supplied); his further views on the fact Letterkenny University Hospital had the second highest rate of service user dissatisfaction in Ireland with care related to pregnancy labour and birth with the joint highest number of respondents rating the maternity care experience as poor to fair; the measures which will be taken to implement meaningful improvements at Saolta Group and Letterkenny University Hospital in particular to ensure that going forward there is no longer a maternity care system in Donegal that leaves more than a quarter of its service users with a poor to fair maternity care experience that could potentially prove traumatic in both the short and long terms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29386/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The National Maternity Strategy recognised the need to listen to women’s voices in order to develop and improve our maternity services and recommended that a National Maternity Experience Survey be undertaken. In that regard, I am very much welcome the publication of the results of the first survey, which I am pleased to note are overwhelmingly positive.

It is, I believe, really important that we recognise what is working well in some of our maternity services and extend that right across the system. However, it is just as important to recognise that some women did not have a positive experience. We must learn from those experiences too and address the areas where improvement is required. In that regard, the survey has informed quality improvement initiatives and each maternity hospital and Community Healthcare Organisation has now developed a quality improvement plan with clearly-defined actions to improve maternity care.

I am fully committed to improving women health services and am very confident that this survey will help us to deliver the safe, high quality, compassionate and responsive maternity service that the women of Ireland expect and deserve. With regard to the Deputy's specific query regarding the measures which will be taken by Saolta Hospital Group, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to the Deputy directly.

Vaccination Programme

Ceisteanna (263)

Colm Burke

Ceist:

263. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if the 'flu vaccine will be made available for students and healthcare staff at third-level institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29387/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Given the potential for the winter flu season in 2020/2021 to coincide with a resurgence of COVID, and the importance of minimising hospital attendance, the Government is expanding the provision of vaccination without charge to all of those in the HSE defined at-risk groups, including healthcare workers, and to all children aged from 2 to 12 years inclusive.

The expanded programme will ensure that those most vulnerable to the effects of influenza will have access to vaccination without charges. By providing vaccination to those most at-risk, and those most likely to require hospitalisation if they contract influenza, it is anticipated that the programme will see a reduction in the number of influenza-related hospital admissions, as well as a reduction in the overall spread of influenza in the community.

1.35 million doses of the Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine have been ordered this year, to be made available to all persons in an at-risk group aged from 6 months up. The HSE is confident that the number of doses procured is sufficient to meet demand in the at-risk groups and this element of the vaccination programme has commenced.

Those third level students not covered by the publicly funded influenza vaccination programme can avail of influenza vaccination from GPs and pharmacists on a private basis. I understand that deliveries of the private supply of the intramuscular vaccine are expected to commence in the coming days.

Health Services

Ceisteanna (264)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

264. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health the treatment and supports available through the HSE to children and adults who have EDS; his plans to provide comprehensive treatment through the HSE for EDS as this appears to be unavailable at present; his plans to provide adequate financial support for persons who need treatment for EDS to travel abroad and thereby avoid debt or over-reliance on family and fundraising to pay for travel; if the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29390/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

A National Rare Disease Plan for Ireland (2014 – 2018) was launched by the Minister for Health in July 2014. This is a generic policy framework for rare diseases. The scope of the plan is broad given that there are approximately 8,000 rare diseases affecting millions of EU citizens; and consequently, there can be a dearth of expertise and knowledge about some rare diseases, simply because they are so rare.

Many of the major recommendations of the plan have already been implemented and in December 2013 the National Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases was established as a joint initiative between the HSE and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. A Clinical Advisory Group was established to oversee the programme, a Clinical Lead and Programme Manager were appointed, and a multidisciplinary National Working Group was established to provide support to the programme workstreams and the National Plan was firmly embedded in the Programme.

The opening of the National Rare Disease Office, (NRDO) in 2015 was a significant milestone for people living with a rare disease, their families and their healthcare professionals. Prof Eileen Treacy is the Director of the National Rare Diseases Office, whose purpose it is to provide current and reliable information about genetic and rare diseases to patients, families and healthcare professionals.

On foot of the HSE Chief Clinical Officer’s (CCO), review of all the national clinical programmes in April 2019, it was recommended that the National Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases be operationalised and incorporated into the National Rare Disease Office. From 01 September 2020, the NRDO will be the main contact point and driver for national HSE rare disease projects and initiatives. The work of the NRDO will be overseen and governed by HSE Acute Operations. This means that the National Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases will be wound down and any outstanding projects will be transferred to the NRDO.

Building on the significant progress to date, themes for inclusion in a roadmap for the coming period have been agreed with the Rare Disease Task Force, which comprises the main rare disease advocacy groups; Rare Disease Ireland, the Medical Research Charities Group (MRCP), and the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPPOSI). Meetings, to ensure that the input and the voice of the patient is represented in the continuing work ongoing in relation to Rare Diseases will continue to take place with the Rare Disease Task Force, the HSE and the Rare Disease Office.

A number of key themes have now been identified for progression in the coming period, including: Patient Awareness; European Reference Networks; Research & Registries; Access to Services; Access to Medicines; Diagnosis; Education & Training and Legislation & Policy. This will form the basis for work in this area in the time ahead.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it would not be appropriate to discuss the details of the individual case which he mentions but I can confirm that I am in communication with the person concerned and that their case is under the care of appropriate clinical expertise.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (265)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

265. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health his position on the WHO Covid-19 solidarity call to action, which promotes the notion of technologies to deal with Covid-19 as global public goods and urges countries to realise equitable global access to these technologies through the pooling of knowledge, intellectual property and data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29392/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Department of Foreign Affairs leads on this matter. I am advised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the following:

Launched in April 2020, the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. The ACT Accelerator brings together governments, scientists, businesses, civil society, and philanthropists and global health organizations.

Ireland is broadly in support of the ACT Accelerator, and shares the objective of equitable, affordable access to technology to address COVID-19.

The ACT-Accelerator is organized into four pillars of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and health systems. Under the vaccine pillar, Ireland has already joined the COVAX facility as part of Team Europe. This is with a view to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool forms another element of the overall ACT Accelerator, and is a voluntary mechanism for sharing health tech related knowledge, intellectual property and data. Consultations are ongoing across the relevant Government Departments and with industry with a view to considering practical engagement. The European Commission, on behalf of Member States, is currently engaging with the WHO to obtain the additional information and clarifications required for industry to engage in the initiative.

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (266)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

266. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the number of occupational therapists and speech and language therapists who have been reassigned to the Covid-19 testing and tracing response; the impact this has had on waiting lists for children waiting for assessments with occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and autism assessments; the timeline his Department is working toward to return all redeployed HSE staff to their original posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29393/20]

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, as soon as possible.

Airport Passenger Data

Ceisteanna (267)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

267. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health when the decision was taken to change the policy for passenger locator form follow-up calls in order that the purpose of these calls was no longer to monitor the movements of incoming passengers but only to provide public health messages; the rationale behind this policy decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29394/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form is provided for under Statutory Instrument 181/2020 which came into effect 28 May 2020. Section 6 (3) of S.I. No. 181/2020 states:

‘ A relevant person may, during a relevant period, request an international passenger to confirm –

(a) where the international passenger is currently residing, and (b) where a child, in relation to whom the international passenger has completed a Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form, is currently residing.’

Statutory Instrument 181/2020 is amended by Statutory Instrument 314/2020 in order to provide for the online version of the form, however the requirements section 6 (3) continue to apply.

SI 314/2020 inserts a new additional regulation:

Provision of public health information to international passengers

6A. A relevant person may, during a relevant period, contact an international passenger by way of telephone call, text message or email using the contact details provided in the Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form completed by the international passenger in order to provide the international passenger with public health information relevant to -

(a) the international passenger, or

(b) a child in relation to whom the international passenger completed a Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form."

The amended regulations, and the collection of data in an electronic format, supports the targeting of key public health messages by SMS to people arriving from overseas who may not be aware of the latest public health guidance applying in Ireland, or how they can access help here if they experience symptoms.

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (268)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

268. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the status of the implementation of each of the outstanding sections of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. [29395/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

23 of the 31 sections of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 were commenced in November 2018. Work on commencement of the remaining substantive provisions of the Act was interrupted in March due to the pandemic. Those provisions are:

- Section 4 Applicant to provide written notice to Executive:

Work with the Courts Service and the HSE to agree processes remains to be completed before this section can be commenced.

- Section 11 Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol Products:

The 2013 Government Decision which approved the implementation of minimum unit pricing envisaged that it would be introduced in the Republic and in Northern Ireland simultaneously to allay concerns that its introduction in the one jurisdiction only would impact cross-border trade.

On 29 July this year the Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann committed to a public consultation on the introduction of minimum unit pricing in Northern Ireland.

- Section 12 Labelling of alcohol products and notices in licensed premises and section 13 Content of Advertisements:

Regulations setting out the detailed requirements in relation to the labelling and advertising of alcohol products must be drafted before these sections can be commenced. The drafting of these Regulations was underway but was interrupted in March. When the draft regulations are finalised by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel they will be submitted to the European Commission for assessment as to whether they are in alignment with Single Market principles.

- Section 18 Advertisements in publications:

The commencement of this provision is dependent on the commencement of all advertising sections of the Act.

- Section 19 Broadcast Watershed:

Work with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the HSE remains to be completed before this section can be commenced.

- Sections 10 and 21 are not substantive and can be commenced when related sections have come into operation.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (269)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

269. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health if he will provide information on a matter (details supplied). [29408/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The website www.whodoeswhat.gov.ie provides organisation structure detail including senior staff assignments for all Government Departments, including the Department of Health. The Department has very recently undertaken a reorganisation of functions. Changes arising from that reorganisation are being updated at the present time and will be reflected on the website once complete.

Disability Services Provision

Ceisteanna (270)

Cormac Devlin

Ceist:

270. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health when the deed of partial discharge for a location (details supplied) will be signed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29429/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

My Department have been in communication with the Order of St. John of God regarding this matter. I understand the Order has decided the best use of the property at 30 Obelisk Walk is the provision of secure housing for persons with a disability and that this will provide great benefit to people with intellectual disabilities and their families.The property is subject to a lien from which the Order have requested a partial release, allowing them to draw down on a grant from the Department of Housing for this purpose.The Chief State Solicitor’s Office, acting on behalf of my Department, have provided a deed of partial release, which is being sealed and signed and will shortly be returned to the CSSO to finalise the matter.

Covid-19 Tests

Ceisteanna (271)

Cormac Devlin

Ceist:

271. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Health the average turnaround times at the Wicklow Covid-19 testing centre which serves County Wicklow and parts of south County Dublin (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29430/20]

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 (272)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

272. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the number of Covid-19 PCR tests performed each week in September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29440/20]

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 (273)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

273. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if home help hours will be granted to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29446/20]

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 Practitioner Services

Ceisteanna (274)

Johnny Mythen

Ceist:

274. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Health his plans for replacing general practitioners that retire; and the status of the matter with a predicted 700 general practitioners due to retire within the next couple of years; his views in particular on the ongoing crisis in New Ross, County Wexford, in which hundreds of patients have been left without a local doctors service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29448/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is aware of the workforce issues facing general practice and has implemented a range of measures in recent years to improve recruitment and retention in general practice.

These include changes to the entry provisions to the GMS scheme to accommodate more flexible/shared GMS GP contracts, and to the retirement provisions for GPs under the GMS scheme, allowing GPs to hold GMS contracts until their 72nd birthday.

In addition, the number of medical graduates undertaking GP training has increased from 120 in 2009 to 208 in 2020.

The recent Agreement on GP contractual reforms will see an increase in expenditure on GP services of €210 million annually by 2023, providing significant increases in capitation fees for participating GPs, and increases in supports for rural practices and practices in urban areas of deprivation.

Improved family friendly arrangements are an important feature of the revised contractual arrangements, with an increase in the locum rate for maternity and paternity cover, and an increase in the paternity leave allowance from 3 days to 2 weeks. This is in recognition of the need to ensure that general practice is compatible with doctors’ family commitments.

I am confident that these measures will help make general practice more sustainable and a more attractive career option for doctors.

In relation to New Ross, Co. Wexford, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (275)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

275. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an appointment for a child (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29452/20]

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.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (276)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

276. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an appointment for a child (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29456/20]

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.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (277)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

277. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29457/20]

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.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (278)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

278. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29458/20]

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.

Health Services Funding

Ceisteanna (279)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

279. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health if a response will issue to an organisation (details supplied) in respect of a funding application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29459/20]

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.

Specialist disability services are provided by a range of organisations. Many organisations providing services for people with a disability are funded by the HSE on a contract for services basis, underpinned by Section 38 and 39 of the Health Act 2004. Service Level Agreements are set out between the HSE and the individual organisations. In some cases, services are delivered directly by the HSE.

As the Deputy's question deals with services funded by the HSE, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.