1. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the negotiation of a new general practitioner contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17265/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - General Practitioner Contracts)

Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: I look forward to working with the Minister in the coming months and for however long this Dáil lasts. My intention and that of Fianna Fáil is to work with the Government on the issue of healthcare where we can, although, as I am sure the Minister will appreciate, we will robustly hold him to account where we believe there is not sufficient action being taken. I certainly extend the hand of co-operation to the Minister and the Government. There is obviously much im...

2. Deputy Louise O’Reilly asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the increased incidence of assaults on staff in the health service, if reports have been conducted into the issue of assaults, the measures taken to protect staff and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16981/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Health Services Staff)

Deputy Louise O’Reilly: Unlike Deputy Donnelly, the Minister and I tend to disagree quite a lot but I think we can all agree that there is a recruitment and retention crisis in our health service. I have said this many times. I believe this Government, the previous Government and even the one before that have made our health service a very unattractive place in which to work. We now see that our health service is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for healthcare professionals. This is ...

3. Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health when the additional respite facilities for persons with disabilities and their families announced in the HSE service plan will be in place and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17266/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Respite Care Services Provision)

Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony: Whatever about the Wicklow presence, it is great to see a strong west Cork presence here this morning as well. When will the additional respite facilities for individuals with disabilities and their families announced in the HSE service plan be in place?
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4. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Health the actions he has taken to reduce the number of persons waiting on trolleys, chairs and temporary beds for hospital admission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17263/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Admissions)

Deputy Michael Harty: What actions has the Minister taken to reduce the number of patients waiting on trolleys, chairs and temporary beds for admission to hospital? The trolley queue is a reflection of the problems in our health service. It brings up health and safety issues for patients and staff, such as with the transmission of infections and diseases when waiting for admission. This has a detrimental effect on patients. What actions is the Minister taking to alleviate this problem?
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5. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health his views on whether the recently announced funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, to procure medical procedures in private hospitals represents best value for money; if a cost-benefit analysis on this €50 million investment has been carried out; his further views on whether this policy could represent a perverse incentive in the public system and is delaying reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17264/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - National Treatment Purchase Fund)

Deputy Róisín Shortall: The Minister’s Government, along with Fianna Fáil, has resurrected the NTPF. We know that is only a stopgap measure, and we know it has been problematic in the past. Can he assure us that he has carried out a cost-benefit analysis before committing to the very substantial figure of €50 million? What kind of assurance can he give us that we are actually going to get value for money for that spend?
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6. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Health his plans to reconfigure cardiovascular services in County Louth and the north-east region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17085/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Services)

Deputy Declan Breathnach: The question raises the proposed reconfiguration of cardiovascular services in County Louth and the north-east region but could equally be applied to the 33 units providing cardiovascular services across the country. It is my understanding the advisory group was convened to devise a new clinical model of care for the provision of cardiovascular rehabilitation settings in Ireland, and that its proposal is to introduce a community-based and single-outpatient programme wh...

7. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health the reason Meath local health office experienced a reduction of 36,253 home help hours in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17042/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Home Help Service Provision)

Deputy Shane Cassells: Why did the Meath local health office experience a reduction of 36,200 home help hours in 2017? The fact the drop in home help hours in Meath is many times the national average is shown in the daily calls and visits to my constituency office from people whose loved ones receive half an hour or 40 minutes of care in the morning but do not see anyone else for the rest of the day. I would appreciate a statement on the matter.
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8. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health the status of the extension of the emergency department in Mayo University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17028/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Emergency Departments)

Deputy Dara Calleary: Mayo University Hospital’s emergency department was designed for 20,000 patients. In 2016 it catered for 40,000 patients. This is placing the fantastic staff and patients under intolerable stress. The Saolta University Health Care Group has made a number of funding applications with regard to transforming the emergency department, but those applications are delayed at either HSE or Department level. There must be action on this and there must be progress on building a m...

9. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health the steps he and the Health Service Executive have taken regarding the issue of children affected by foetal anticonvulsant syndrome, FACS, in circumstances in which children were exposed to sodium valproate medicines in the womb; his plans to conduct a review of the families and children affected by this issue; his further plans to set up a compensation scheme for the families affected in view of the compensation scheme set up in France; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17017/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Medicinal Products Regulation)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I thank the Deputy for raising this important question. I had an excellent meeting with FACS Forum Ireland two or three weeks ago in Leinster House. A number of Deputies had requested the meeting. I met FACS Forum Ireland with representatives of my Department and the HSE.
Sodium valproate is a medicine licensed for use in Ireland to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder, and is marketed in Ireland under the brand name Epilim. It is now well establishe...

10. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health when the consultation process on the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise involving local clinicians and the community will begin; and the expected timeframe for completion (Question 16238/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Services)

Deputy Brian Stanley: When will the consultation process for Portlaoise hospital begin? At our meeting in December the Minister told the other two Laois Deputies and me that he would begin this process early in the new year and that he would discuss the matter with clinicians and representatives from the local community.
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11. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health the persons undertaking the review of A Vision for Change; the terms of reference including confirmation that the terms include the re-establishment of an independent implementation body; when it commenced; the finish date envisioned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17116/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Mental Health Policy)

Deputy Catherine Connolly: My question relates to the review of the Vision for Change, when it started and when it will be complete. Who is the team and what is its terms of reference and will an independent implementation body be included?
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12. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Health the details of the CHO’s recruitment initiatives; and the steps being taken to improve recruitment, for example, acute units, community mental health adult teams and CAMHS. (Question 16230/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Mental Health Services Staff)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): The level of vacancies and difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled staff, particularly nursing and medical staff, poses a significant challenge for the provision of Mental Health Services. The Mental Health Division continues to work with Community Health Organisations (CHOs) to maximise and ensure the most effective use of resources. There is work on-going with the HSE HR partners and the National Recruitment Service to att...

13. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Health his plans to reduce waiting lists for orthopaedic treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17007/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Waiting Lists)

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: People regularly come to my constituency office and to clinics in great pain. Many are completely immobilised and in great distress as they wait for hip operations, often up to two years. What action is being taken to tackle waiting lists for hip operations in Cork where people regularly wait 18 months to two years?
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14. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health his plans to improve the services and facilities for adolescent psychiatric patients in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17081/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Mental Health Services Provision)

Deputy Jackie Cahill: I raise the issue of adolescent psychiatric care in County Tipperary. In recent months we have had three adolescents who have spent eight to nine weeks in a paediatric unit in Clonmel waiting for acute psychiatric care to become available in Cork.
12 o’clockIt is intolerable that a teenager, whose parents had her admitted to the hospital system, has to wait such a length of time for specialised psychiatric care. Will the Minister give us an assurance that if a person is a...

15. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health the number of counselling and educational psychologists required to complete extensive in-service training in order to maintain eligibility for their own jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17031/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Psychological Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): In 2015, the HSE established a group to review the eligibility criteria for employment as a psychologist in the Psychological Services. 
This review was completed in 2016 and made recommendations which have been accepted in full by the HSE Leadership Team. The group reviewed the care group delineation and decided to move the requirement away from named psychology qualifications solely. Instead, a combination of qualification and placements or supervise...

16. Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health the reason the HSE fell short of its target for the establishment of children’s disability network teams in 2017. (Question 17105/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Services for People with Disabilities)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): The HSE is rolling out the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People Programme.  This Programme entails the reconfiguration of all current HSE and HSE funded children’s disability services into geographically-based Children’s Disability Network Teams. 
The Programme aims to achieve a nationally equitable approach to service provision for all children based on their individual need and regardless of where ...

17. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the reason the restoration of pay to section 39 workers cannot be costed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13518/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Health Services Staff Remuneration)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under section 39 of the Health Act 2004, the HSE provides financial assistance to organisations by means of a grant. Section 39 legally underpins the provision of services similar or supplementary to a service that the HSE may provide. In 2017, the HSE provided funding of approximately €800 million to over 2,200 of these agencies. The funding provided can range from high value, in their millions, to relatively modest amounts of just a few hundred eur...

18. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health his views on the need for investment in regional hospitals and in particular in the emergency department at Cavan General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16830/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Groups)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The RCSI Hospital Group has identified the need for development of the resuscitation area in Cavan Emergency Department. Future investment in Cavan General Hospital will be considered within the overall acute hospital infrastructure programme, the prioritised needs of the hospital groups and within the overall capital envelope available to the health service.
The National Development Plan provides €10.9 billion for Health capital developments across the...

19. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health his plans to establish a national co-ordinated helpline and clearly publicised nationwide professional supports for persons with mental health issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16234/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Mental Health Services Administration)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Improving access to mental health services is a key priority for this government. At present there are a number of voluntary and non-governmental organisations being supported by the HSE that are providing mental health support to the public via the telephone, internet or text message.
In December 2017, I published the recommendations of the National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health. These included recommendations to provide active...

20. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health when the new 50 bed psychiatric unit at UHG will open; the number of beds that will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17113/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Mental Health Services Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): The HSE has advised me of its plan to open the new 50 bed Acute Adult Mental Health Unit in University Hospital Galway on a phased basis. In the first phase the HSE will open 45 beds before the 1 June 2018 and in the second phase the remaining five beds will be opened by the end of 2018. 
This new state of the art purpose built unit will provide better quality mental health services in the Galway area. The unit when opened will re...

21. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Health the status of the provision of an endoscopy unit for Naas General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17108/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 36 together.
The endoscopy suite and the mental health acute unit at Naas Hospital are both included in the National Development Plan 2018-2027. 
The National Development Plan provides €10.9 billion to invest in infrastructure, equipment and additional service capacity for the public health sector. This represents an increase of 165% in capital funding over the previous decade. The additional capital funding is ...

22. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Health if he will make information available on the safety of Misoprostol and Mifepristone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17120/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Medicinal Products)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): There are several misoprostol-containing medicines authorised for use in Ireland, two of which contain misoprostol as the sole, active ingredient. All misoprostol-containing medicines are available only on foot of a prescription. As prescription-only medicines, they should only be taken by a patient when prescribed for them by their medical practitioner, or other healthcare professional, as appropriate.
A medicine can only be placed on the Irish market ...

23. Deputy Louise O’Reilly asked the Minister for Health the measures taken to tackle the appointment of non-specialist doctors as consultants; the steps he has taken to address this issue since it was first raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16980/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors Recruitment)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under section 57 of the Health Act 2004, the HSE’s regulatory functions include responsibility for all Consultant appointments in the public health service in Ireland including HSE hospitals, voluntary hospitals, mental health services and other agencies; whether additional, replacement, temporary or locum. 
In March 2008 the HSE amended the qualifications specified for Consultant posts to require membership of the specialist division of the Register...

24. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Health his plans to reduce waiting lists for ophthalmology treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17006/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Waiting Lists Action Plans)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Improving waiting times for hospital procedures is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and in 2018 €50 million was allocated to the NTPF to provide treatment for patients. The recently launched Inpatient/Day Case Action Plan outlines the combined impact of HSE and NTPF activity in 2018 to reduce the number of patients waiting for treatment to below 70,000 in 2018. This plan marks a very important milestone in delivering on this commitment.
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25. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Health the reason the HSE undertook no public consultation on the closure of MIDOC services in Birr and Edenderry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17054/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - General Practitioner Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): An independent review of MIDOC services in Offaly was undertaken in 2017, which identified concerns in the areas of clinical risk, medical emergencies, and lone working. These concerns related specifically to locum doctors working alone at the MIDOC satellite sites at Birr and Edenderry. 
Since 2 April 2018, MIDOC has been operating one fully functioning treatment centre on the campus of the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore for the entire Offaly pop...