Cowen, Brian

Thursday, 20 November 1997

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 483 No. 2

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Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - Obstetric Care Inquiry.

Was asked: if he will order an inquiry to be conducted into the medical care provided in Sligo General Hospital to a person (details supplied) for the delivery of a baby girl on 31 August 1995 and the care provi...More Button

I note the Deputy's concern about the tragic circumstances of this case and I extend my deepest sympathy to the parents on the death of their baby daughter. The provision of obstetric care in Sligo G...More Button

It has not been brought to my attention that the Medical Council has issued a definitive statement on the basis of what the Deputy said. I note his interest in this matter and I will take it up furth...More Button

This matter was brought to my attention by way of the parliamentary question tabled by the Deputy. In some respects it is difficult to comment beyond what I have said on the basis that the parents' s...More Button

I share the Deputy's concern regarding the rights of the mother and the need to be seen to try to deal with this matter adequately as far as they are concerned, however difficult that may be to achiev...More Button

The Deputy might allow me more time to assess the position to see what it might be possible to do. He will appreciate the Medical Council is the body that deals with competence and fitness to practi...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - Mental Handicap Services.

Was asked: if he will implement the recommendations of his Department's assessment of need, 1997-2001 of service to persons with a mental handicap and intellectual disability.More Button

The “Assessment of Need for Services for Persons with a Mental Handicap l997-2001” was published earlier this year and is based on information from the National Intellectual Disability Database. The ...More Button

The position will be clearer subsequent to the budget.More Button

That will be incorporated in the overall provision. As the Deputy is aware, the plan sets out the number of increased services that will be required over the period. The real issue that concerns th...More Button

The reason, as I have outlined, is that the development moneys available in respect of that category will be finalised on budget day.More Button

No. The allocations in the abridged Estimates cover an unchanged policy in this area at the moment.More Button

There is an existing provision. It is the full 1998 year cost of the existing level of services.More Button

That will be dealt with in the budget.More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - Well Woman Centres.

Was asked: whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Well Woman Centre has been unable to recruit a doctor to work in its new centre in Athlone, County Westmeath, opened in joint partnership with...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that under section 8 of the Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act, 1992, the provision of family planning services is, in the first instance, the statutory responsibility o...More Button

On the specific complaint about consultants being told there would be a problem if they were to take patients from the Well Woman Centre, as a result of inquiries made by the Department the consultant...More Button

Yes. The Well Woman Centre provides educational and counselling services. It is an alternative to existing family planning services which the health board has supported and would be prepared to cont...More Button

Yes. That is what the health board wants. It has a statutory responsibility to provide family planning services and I will be guided by it.More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - CJD in Blood Products.

Was asked: the extent of the risk of patients contracting new variant CJD from blood products supplied by the Blood Transfusion Service Board; whether all red blood cells will be filtered in order to eliminate t...More Button

CJD is an exceptionally rare disorder of the brain which causes rapidly progressive dementia and eventually death. Research has shown that CJD is caused by a unique prion protein which exists in a no...More Button

My lengthy detailed reply is based on the advice available from the organisation to which the Deputy referred. It is difficult for any newspaper to publish that level of detail. It is acknowledged t...More Button

It is moving ahead of plan and the recommendations of the Finlay tribunal in that respect will be met prior to the earliest possible date which had been envisaged. I cannot recall the exact date but ...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - Other Questions. Dublin Accident and Emergency Services.

Was asked: whether he will provide a cash injection of £3 million to avert a crisis in the Dublin hospitals accident and emergency services in the winter of 1997 in accordance with the request made by the Accide...More Button

The Eastern Health Board has a co-ordinating role in relation to the provision of accident and emergency services by six major hospitals in the Dublin area. Arising from the work of the Accident and ...More Button

I agree that of course it would be far better had the Eastern Health Board been able to provide funds which would not have required it to wait for the 1998 allocation since it has been involved in pos...More Button

I am arranging meetings with all the health boards in the next few weeks prior to allocations to impress upon them that there are major responsibilities which must be taken up as and from 1 January an...More Button

Yes. I expect the allocations within the timespan the Deputy mentioned. Then the boards must adopt service plans and these must be submitted. When the allocations become available, they will have t...More Button

There are some development moneys which are not yet finalised on which I am working at present. I have not decided yet whether an allocation over and above their allocation will form part of that. W...More Button

The definition of adequate funding is often dependent upon the level and quality of management one is prepared to tolerate. Nothing is adequate if it depends on other criteria not being met.More Button

I certainly am.More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - Sudden Infant Cot Deaths.

Was asked: the number of sudden infant cot deaths in each of the years from 1994 to 1996; and the moneys made available for research into the causes of these deaths for the same period.More Button

The number of sudden infant cot deaths registered in the years concerned was as follows: 1994, 36; 1995, 35; 1996, 28. My Department has provided funding to the Irish Sudden Infant Death Association f...More Button

I do not have access to the statistics to which the Deputy referred and I do not know the length of time over which they were compiled. If the amount of research available was directly proportional t...More Button

I thank the Deputy for the information he provided. I am not questioning its accuracy, I am merely not aware of it. The Department has enjoyed a good relationship with the association. If what has ...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - Consultant Posts.

Was asked: the proposals, if any, he has to increase the number of consultant posts in public hospitals ; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The number of consultants in the health services in Ireland has increased steadily in recent years. Between 1984 and 1996, the total increased by 19 per cent and it can be expected that the numbers w...More Button

I do not have the information requested in the latter part of the Deputy's supplementary question available to me but I will try to obtain it. The Department is currently conducting a medical manpowe...More Button

The consultations are current. The consultation process began before I entered office, I did not initiate it. I am not sure when the consultations will be completed.More Button

I do not believe so. Because of new regulations coming into place which will affect non-EU doctors in our hospitals, a situation will arise in future for which we must make plans. I assure the Deput...More Button

I am open to change. I cannot commit myself to one or other option. I recognise that if the status quo is not addressed there will be a serious shortage of medical manpower in the years ahead and th...More Button

I have no specific plans. I recognise what the Deputy says regarding demographic trends. The same could be said of the increased number of elderly people who will require services from the health bo...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - Drug Treatment Services.

Was asked: the number of heroin addicts currently receiving treatment and the numbers awaiting treatment for each health board area.More Button

The Eastern Health Board informed me that the number of addicts currently receiving treatment for heroin abuse is 2,666. Heroin addiction is a problem mainly confined to the Eastern Health Board area ...More Button

I agree with the Deputy that this does not reflect the unmet need. In the debate on drugs last week we referred to anything up to 8,000 addicts in the Eastern Health Board area. Clearly there are man...More Button

I cannot give a precise date, but I can assure the Deputy that resources will be made available on a continuing basis to continue the current rate of improvement. I hope we can be the victims of our ...More Button

The waiting period in the Pearse Street centre is four weeks. I do not have details of waiting lists in other areas. If there are further details available I will send them to the Deputy.More Button

It appears there will be a waiting list on 31 December. However, it will be much shorter than the one which existed two or three years ago. There may be a residual problem but substantial progress h...More Button

I agree that methadone should not be seen as the be all and end all in terms of treatment. Under the programme one is basically replacing an illegal opiate with a legal one. Some people involved in ...More Button

I am not aware of waiting lists for treatment in Cork. The Southern Health Board has its own arrangements in the various institutions to meet the demand. There is a partnership area in Cork and it i...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - Foreign Adoptions.

Was asked: when arrangements will commence to facilitate adoption by Irish residents of children in China; and the recent developments, if any, which have occurred in this area.More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Priority Questions. - CJD in Blood Products.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the scientific evidence regarding the possibility of transmission of a new variant of CJD through blood transfusion; and the measures, if any, he has taken to ensure...More Button

CJD is an exceptionally rare disorder of the brain which causes rapidly progressive dementia and eventually death. Research has shown that CJD is caused by a unique prion protein which exists in a no...More Button

Yes, but I see Deputy Upton in the House and he may wish to ask supplementary questions on the matter.More Button

I refer the Deputy to the very detailed reply I gave during priority questions. No specific research is carried out by the BTSB, but we are aware of research carried out in the UK. When the BTSB tran...More Button

I have not done that. The management of the BTSB is aware of the research being carried out by bodies in the UK. Some technical committees are assisting it and there is also a link with the departme...More Button

Written Answers. - Services for Disabled.

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself that adequate occupational therapy services are available in the Eastern Health Board area.More Button

Was asked: the steps, if any, he will take to ensure that each health board provides a speech and language therapy service for patients who have suffered strokes and whose speech is as a consequence impaired; an...More Button

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to provide greater residential day or respite services for those with a mental or physical disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the progress, if any, which has been made on the recommendations in Towards an Independent Future that one hundred residential places be provided by each health board for people with disabilities; and...More Button

Was asked: the time-frame, if any, for the implementation of the report Towards an Independent Future; the funding necessary for its implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11, 39, 50, 59 and 87 together. The report of the review group on health and personal social services for people with physical and sensory disabilities, Towards an Ind...More Button

Written Answers. - Child Abuse Guidelines.

Was asked: whether he will replace the 1987 guidelines on procedures for the identification, investigation and management of child abuse of his Department with new guidelines.More Button

Was asked: whether he will replace the 1987 guidelines on procedures for the identification, investigation and management of child abuse of his Department with new guidelines.More Button

Written Answers. - Medical Cards.

Was asked: whether he will change the regulations relating to the provision of medical cards in order to provide for the automatic provision of a medical card to children who suffer handicap due to being born wi...More Button

Was asked: whether he has initiated a review of medical card guidelines as outlined in An Action Programme for the Millennium; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the consideration, if any, he has given to providing for a significant increase in the medical card eligibility limits for people aged 65 and over; and if he will provide for automatic renewal of medi...More Button

Was asked: whether he will change the regulations regarding the provision of medical cards in order to provide for their automatic provision to children who suffer handicap due to being born with limb impairment...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13, 15, 85 and 125 together. Entitlement to health services in Ireland is primarily based on means. Under the Health Act, 1970, determination of eligibility for medic...More Button

Written Answers. - Nursing Home Regulations.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the criticism voiced by the Ombudsman of the terms of regulations made under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990 which assumed that children were obliged to support...More Button

Was asked: whether he intends to introduce amendments to the regulations applicable under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990 which allow health boards to reduce nursing home grants to elderly people if their c...More Button

Written Answers. - Well Woman Centres.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Well Woman Centre in Athlone, County Westmeath was recently obliged to close; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if he will approve the request from the Well Woman organisation for a public subvention to fund the non-profit making aspects of its work and, in particular, the helpline and public information sessio...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 16 and 61 together. The provision of family services is in the first instance the statutory responsibility of the health board. I am aware of the current difficulties...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Insurance Premium.

Was asked: his views on the substantial insurance premiums which Irish hospitals must pay; and whether he will have investigations made in this regard.More Button

As Minister I am concerned at the substantial premiums being paid by health agencies to deliver a wide range of health services. To ensure that better value for money is obtained, the major public vo...More Button

Written Answers. - Health Services.

Was asked: the current situation regarding the provision of a continuing role for the Meath Hospital, Dublin 8 following the transfer of medical services to the new Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24; if his Departmen...More Button

Written Answers. - Mobile Phones.

Was asked: the investigations, if any, being conducted, or which have been commissioned, by his Department into the possible health dangers posed by use of mobile phones; and if no such steps have been taken, th...More Button

Was asked: the investigations, if any, being conducted by his Department or which have been commissioned into the possible health dangers posed by use of mobile phones; and if no such steps have been taken, the ...More Button

Was asked: the investigations, if any, being conducted by his Department or which have been commissioned into the possible health dangers posed by use of mobile phones; and if no such steps have been taken, the ...More Button

Was asked: the investigations, if any, being conducted by his Department or which have been commissioned into the possible health dangers posed by use of mobile phones; and if no such steps have been taken, the ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 30, 41 and 84 together. I am aware that there is some public concern about possible adverse health effects from exposure to radiation emissions from telecommunicat...More Button

Written Answers. - Blood Transfusion Service Board.

Was asked: if the Irish Medicines Board has renewed the licence of the Blood Transfusion Service Board to manufacture blood products at its current facility in Cork; and, if so, if he will give details of the co...More Button

Was asked: if he will make provision for the development of the Blood Transfusion Service Board facility in Cork.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 52 together. The development plan for the Blood Transfusion Service Board provides for major reorganisation and redevelopment of the service to ensure it is in ...More Button

Written Answers. - Meeting with Positive Action.

Was asked: the action, if any, which was taken by him following his meeting with Positive Action on 24 October 1997 in view of the statement issued by him that the Director of Public Prosecution intended to init...More Button

Was asked: the action, if any, which was taken by him following his meeting with Positive Action on 24 October 1997 in view of the statement issued by him that the Director of Public Prosecution intended to init...More Button

Was asked: the action, if any, which was taken by him following his meeting with Positive Action on 24 October 1997 in view of the statement issued by him that the Director of Public Prosecution intended to init...More Button

Was asked: the action, if any, which was taken by him following his meeting with Positive Action on 24 October 1997 in view of the statement issued by him that the Director of Public Prosecutions intended to ini...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21, 46, 53 and 124 together. On 23 October I received a request from Positive Action for a meeting to discuss the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions in re...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.

Was asked: if he will ensure that a person (details supplied) in County Waterford who is awaiting a heart operation will not have to wait for a period of 18 months as indicated in view of the fact that she is a ...More Button

I understand from St. James's Hospital that the person in question was placed on the waiting list at the hospital in April 1997, and surgery was performed on 17 November 1997.More Button

Written Answers. - Hepatitis C Patients.

Was asked: the current arrangements in place to provide treatment for sufferers of hepatitis C; if he will ensure that arrangements are made to provide a better geographic spread of treatment centres, the appoin...More Button

Current arrangements to provide treatment for persons who contracted hepatitis C as a result of a blood or blood product transfusion encompass both secondary care, hospital services and primary care s...More Button

Written Answers. - Health Board Services.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the extreme inconsistency in the services provided by the health boards; if he intends to carry out a review in this regard; the proposals, if any, he has to ensure ...More Button

I am not aware of extreme inconsistency in the services provided by the health boards but I will be glad to address the matter further if the Deputy is in a position to bring specific examples to my a...More Button

Written Answers. - Nursing Shortage.

Was asked: the measures, if any, he will take to address the shortage of nurses; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to reports that a shortage of nurses is affecting a number of major hospitals and that the hospitals are experiencing difficulties in maintaining adequate staffing leve...More Button

Was asked: the way in which he intends to deal with the nursing crisis in the health care system.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26, 27 and 38 together. At the end of 1996 there was a total of 53,641 nurses registered with An Bord Altranais. Of these 44,822 were eligible to practise having paid...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself that the waiting lists for cardiac surgery are accurate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the degree to which he will reduce waiting lists in relation to hip replacement operations within the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the numbers currently on hospital surgical waiting lists in each health board area; the nature of the surgery required in these cases; and the steps, if any, he will take to reduce the waiting lists.More Button

Was asked: the number of children currently awaiting ear, nose and throat treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the total number of patients currently awaiting hip operations in this country; the number of operations taking place on a daily basis in this regard; the number of hospitals offering this surgery; wh...More Button

Was asked: whether patients on waiting lists for long periods in public hospitals are being offered early treatment privately; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the number of persons currently on the waiting list for eye surgery; the length of time these patients are on the list; the plans, if any, his Department has for early attention in their cases; and if...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28, 36, 111, 129, 130, 132 and 133 together. The total number of persons awaiting treatment under the specialty of general surgery on 30 June 1997 was 2,995. The numb...More Button

Written Answers. - VHI Restructuring.

Was asked: when he will receive a report from the board of the VHI in relation to possible restructuring of the VHI; and if he will publish this report in order to facilitate public discussion of this important ...More Button

The VHI board is currently giving consideration to the area of corporate structure and strategic alliance in the context of the developing competitive market. I understand that the board hopes to be ...More Button

Written Answers. - Anti-Smoking Campaign.

Was asked: the immediate plans, if any, he has to put in place a national anti-smoking campaign in view of the alarming increase in the popularity of smoking particularly among teenagers and young adults; and if...More Button

Smoking prevalence in Ireland has fallen substantially over the past 20 years and my Department is committed to continuing this trend. This will be effected primarily by way of a combination of healt...More Button

Written Answers. - Register of Adopters.

Was asked: his views on the principle that adopted persons are entitled to know the identity of their natural parents; and if he will introduce legislation to give effect to this principle.More Button

Was asked: the progress, if any, made towards the establishment of a voluntary contact register for adult adoptees to contact both parents as promised in the Government's An Action Programme for the Millennium; ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 73 together. At present, access to birth records by adopted persons is restricted under section 22 of the Adoption Act, 1952. Where circumstances permit, an ad...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Was asked: when MRI scan facilities will be provided at Waterford Regional Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, currently there are five MRI scanners in Ireland, four in Dublin and one at Cork University Hospital. Of the four MRI scanners in Dublin, the only public MRI scanner curr...More Button

Written Answers. - VHI Regulations.

Was asked: if he intends to amend the VHI regulations in relation to psychiatric in-patient treatment in accordance with the Government's programme.More Button

As there are no VHI regulations relating to psychiatric in-patient treatment, I assume that the Deputy is referring to the 1996 health insurance minimum benefit regulations made pursuant to the Health...More Button

Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to reduce waiting lists for orthodontic treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the proposals, if any, he has to further reduce waiting lists for orthodontic treatment within the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 51 together. The health board orthodontic services are currently being developed in accordance with the dental health action plan. The action plan provides for...More Button

Written Answers. - Human Reproduction.

Was asked: the number of people travelling to the United Kingdom and other destinations to avail of easy access for reproductive procedures and techniques; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: his views on the required legislation, if any, to address the issues in relation to reproductive procedures and techniques; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the steps, if any, he will take to provide legislation on the issues arising as a result of the new scientific methods of assisted reproduction particularly to address parentage of children born as a ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 37, 47 and 63 together. The Deputies will appreciate that proposals which relate to assisted human reproduction raise significant legal and ethical issues. I am of th...More Button

Written Answers. - Centre for Rare Disorders.

Was asked: the proposals, if any, he has to establish a centre for rare disorders; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I understand that the Deputy is referring to disabilities. I have no proposals before me for the establishment of such a centre. There are numerous conditions which give rise to disability. Each ha...More Button

Written Answers. - Infant Nutrition.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the public advertising campaign of a company (details supplied) for infant feeding formulae as a substitute for breastfeeding is in breach of agreed po...More Button

I wish to thank the Deputy for drawing this matter to my attention. My Department's primary concern is to ensure the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by the protection and promot...More Button

Written Answers. - Medical Cards.

Was asked: if he will increase the income limit to allow many families still on the breadline to become eligible for a medical card; if the health boards will review this situation; and if he will make a stateme...More Button

Under the Health Act, 1970, medical cards are issued to persons who, in the opinion of the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board, are unable, without undue hardship, to provide gener...More Button

Written Answers. - Tuberculosis Incidence.

Was asked: whether a new form of tuberculosis, resistant to most current drug therapies, has been found in Ireland; the measures, if any, he intends to take to deal with this threat to health; and if he will mak...More Button

A very small proportion of tuberculosis cases diagnosed in Ireland have been identified as drug-resistant.More Button

Written Answers. - Medical Research.

Was asked: whether his Department will provide funding for the research project into genetic epidemiology proposed by the director of the Boyne Research Institute; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: whether his Department will provide funding for the research project into genetic epidemiology proposed by the director of the Boyne Research Institute; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I intend to take Questions Nos. 48 and 126 together. In 1996, the director of the Boyne Research Institute made an application for funding to undertake a research project in the area of genetic epidem...More Button

Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.

Was asked: if he will give details of the waiting lists for assessment and treatment for orthodontic treatment of children at St. Finbarr's Hospital in Cork; whether his Department will make resources available ...More Button

The provision of orthodontic services for eligible children at St. Finbarr's Hospital, Cork and the maintenance of waiting lists is the statutory responsibility of the Southern Health Board.More Button

Written Answers. - National Food Safety Authority.

Was asked: when he will establish the statutory, independent, science-based Food Safety Authority promised in An Action Programme for the Millennium; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the number of times the Food Safety Authority has met to date in 1997; the dates of these meetings; the number of inspections carried out by the Authority of control agencies involved in the food indu...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 56 together. The interim Food Safety Authority of Ireland, which was established on 7 November 1996 on a non-statutory basis by the previous Government, has met...More Button

Written Answers. - Home Help Service.

Was asked: the cost to the health boards of the current home help service in view of the Government's intention to introduce a national minimum wage; the cost if a £5 per hour minimum wage was in place; and whet...More Button

The current cost of the home help service throughout the country is approximately £17 million. The number of beneficiaries is around 19,674. It is important to emphasise that the underlying philosoph...More Button

Written Answers. - Child Care Act, 1991.

Was asked: the current situation regarding the implementation of Part VII of the Child Care Act, 1991, which provides for the introduction of regulations governing safety and health standards in pre-school servi...More Button

The Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations, 1996, which were introduced under Part VII of the Child Care Act, 1991, came into operation on 31 December 1996. The regulations apply to pre-schools...More Button

Written Answers. - Notifiable Diseases.

Was asked: the reason HIV is not included on his Department's list of infectious diseases and is, as a consequence, not a notifiable disease; and if he will urgently address this issue.More Button

The National AIDS Strategy Committee was established in 1991 to examine various apsects of HIV and AIDS. Sub-committees were in turn set up to deal with surveillance, education and prevention, care a...More Button

Written Answers. - Drugs Misuse.

Was asked: if the logical conclusion from the recent Garda report regarding crime in Dublin would be that crime could be massively reduced were every heroin addict to be urgently provided with a place on a treat...More Button

It is recognised that there is an association between heroin misuse and the incidence of crime. The Garda Síochána annual report for 1996 shows that almost all controlled drug proceedings involving h...More Button

Written Answers. - Prescribed Drugs.

Was asked: if he will extend or amend the drug budgeting scheme; and if he has satisfied himself with the current operation of the scheme.More Button

With the aim of ensuring equity in its operation, the indicative drug target (IDT) scheme has undergone a number of modifications since its inception, for example, to take account of matters such as c...More Button

Written Answers. - Services for the Elderly.

Was asked: when he will bring suggestions to the Government on the way in which the situation of the elderly in our society can be improved as recently announced by the Minister of State at his Department; and i...More Button

I am currently in the process of consulting with the various organisations in promoting the interests of older people. Following these consultations, it is my intention to prepare plans for the furth...More Button

Written Answers. - Meningitis Incidence.

Was asked: the growth, if any, in the incidence of meningitis among young people in this country; and the policy measures, if any, which are being undertaken by his Department to counteract the effects of this d...More Button

There are two forms of meningitis — bacterial and viral. Bacterial meningitis is usually the more serious form of the disease. The number of cases of meningitis notified to my Department in recent ...More Button

Written Answers. - Medical Rehabilitation.

Was asked: the action, if any, he will take on the report furnished to him by the National Rehabilitation Board's advisory committee on medical rehabilitation.More Button

The report of the national advisory committee on medical rehabilitation of the National Rehabilitation Board was received recently by my Department. The report is currently being evaluated in the Dep...More Button

Written Answers. - HIV and AIDS.

Was asked: the measures, if any, he has to promote public awareness of the risk of HIV infection and AIDS.More Button

I am aware that there is a continuing need to promote public awareness of the risk of HIV infection and AIDS. For many years now, my Department has been working to address this issue. Initiatives dev...More Button

Written Answers. - Post-Natal Depression.

Was asked: whether it is intended to provide separate hospital facilities in maternity hospitals for mothers who suffer postnatal depression to facilitate their remaining with their children in a maternity hospi...More Button

Was asked: whether it is intended to provide separate hospital facilities in maternity hospitals for mothers who suffer postnatal depression to facilitate their remaining with their children in a maternity hospi...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 127 together. The provision of separate facilities in maternity hospitals for mothers suffering from post natal depression is essentially an operational matter ...More Button

Written Answers. - Blood Transfusion Service Board.

Was asked: the steps, if any, taken by him to date to implement the recommendations of the Finlay report relating to the Blood Transfusion Service Board.More Button

Was asked: the steps, if any, taken by him to date to implement the recommendations of the Finlay report relating to the Blood Transfusion Service Board.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 123 together. The report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Blood Transfusion Service Board, which was published in March 1997, made six key recommendations an...More Button

Written Answers. - Children's Rights.

Was asked: the way in which he intends to respond to the inconsistency that exists between the United Nations Convention on The Rights of The Child, as ratified by the Irish Government on 22 October 1992, and Ar...More Button

Written Answers. - Medical Cards.

Was asked: the number of former long-term unemployed people who have been allowed to retain their medical cards on taking up employment in accordance with the decision announced in the 1996 budget; if his attent...More Button

The implementation of the 1996 budget provision concerning the retention of medical cards by persons who have been on the live register for at least 12 months who take up paid insurable employment and...More Button

Written Answers. - National Alcohol Policy.

Was asked: if he will give a progress report in relation to the implementation of the national alcohol policy.More Button

The national alcohol policy was launched in September 1996. It is directed at reducing the prevalence of alcohol related problems through an emphasis on moderation in alcohol consumption. Because alc...More Button

Written Answers. - Cancer Register.

Was asked: when legislation to amend the Data Protection Act, 1988, will be introduced to facilitate the establishment of a national cancer screening register.More Button

The establishment of a national population register is a prerequisite for the implementation of a national breast cancer screening programme. Initially, there were some data protection issues surround...More Button

Written Answers. - Paediatric Services.

Was asked: the proposals, if any, he has to establish a single paediatric tertiary centre in Dublin; and the proposals, if any, he has for the development of paediatric medical vacancies.More Button

Was asked: the proposals, if any, he has to establish a single paediatric tertiary centre in Dublin; and the proposals, if any, he has for the development of paediatric medical services.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 118 together. My Department has been aware for some time of the need for improved co-ordination and consultation in the delivery of paediatric services for the ...More Button

Written Answers. - Elective Surgery.

Was asked: whether there has been an unusually high level of cancellation of elective surgery in Dublin hospitals; whether his Department has analysed the reasons in this regard and, in particular, the apparent ...More Button

In the time available to me, it has not been possible to obtain the information sought by the Deputy concerning the number of elective surgery procedures cancelled in Dublin hospitals. The information...More Button

Written Answers. - Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Was asked: if he will extend the eligibility criteria for the long-term illness scheme.More Button

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to review the long-term illness eligibility criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 86 together. The long-term illness scheme entitles persons to free drugs and medicines which are prescribed in respect of a specific schedule of illnesses. The...More Button

Written Answers. - HIV and AIDS.

Was asked: the reason HIV is not included on his Department's list of infectious diseases and is, as a consequence, not a notifiable disease; and if he will urgently address this issue.More Button

The national AIDS strategy committee was established in 1991 to examine various aspects of HIV and AIDS. Sub-committees were in turn set up to deal with surveillance, education and prevention, care a...More Button

Written Answers. - Cancer Screening Programme.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to extend the availability of cervical smear testing free of charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The report of the Department of Health cervical screening committee recommended a national cervical screening programme for women aged 25-60 years at five yearly intervals. The programme will first b...More Button

Written Answers. - Tallaght (Dublin) Hospital.

Was asked: when Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24 will be opened.More Button

I have requested the board of the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin incorporating the National Children's Hospital to consider a phased opening of the new hospital at Tallaght with the majority of t...More Button

Written Answers. - Psychiatric Hospitals.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the appalling conditions in St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane, County Dublin; the discussions, if any, he had with the Eastern Health Board on the steps needed to ensure ...More Button

Monitoring of standards of care and standards of accommodation provided for patients in psychiatric hospitals is carried out by the Inspector of Mental Hospitals. The inspector carries out annual ins...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Was asked: if the review his Department is undertaking of the recommendation of the cardiac surgery option appraisal group that the new cardiac surgery unit should be located in St. James's Hospital, Dublin 8 ha...More Button

The provision of additional cardiac surgery facilities is a matter of national importance and one which will require significant capital and revenue investment over the next few years. The policy dec...More Button

Written Answers. - Respite Care.

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself with the provision of respite care for children with disabilities who are living with their parents; if his attention has been drawn to the research work carried out by the...More Button

The provision of respite services for children with disabilities is a vital part of the support services required by families in caring for children with disabilities. Respite care is provided in a n...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Was asked: if he will approve an application for additional funding for the dialysis unit at Waterford Regional Hospital, which currently has nine people on its waiting list, to ensure that local patients will b...More Button

The provision of renal dialysis at Waterford regional hospital is a matter for the South-Eastern Health Board in the first instance. I understand from the board that the person in question was placed...More Button

Written Answers. - Hearing Impairment.

Was asked: his views on the reported levels of hearing loss in young people applying as recruits to the Irish Defence Forces; and if his Department will undertake research on this matter.More Button

I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Defence, that following the recent recruitment campaign it has emerged that up to 8 per cent of young people applying for the Army have failed the heari...More Button

Written Answers. - Breast Cancer Clinic.

Was asked: the resources, if any, he intends to make available to the breast cancer treatment clinic in St. Vincent's Hospital, Dublin 4 in order to further develop that service in view of the great demands curr...More Button

A series of measures have been put in place in recent years to reduce pressure on the breast clinic at St. Vincent's Hospital and further improvements are planned. In 1996, my Department provided addi...More Button

Written Answers. - Home Help Service.

Was asked: if he will give details of the current hourly rate of pay earned by home helps in each of the health boards; the cost of increasing this hourly rate to £5 per hour; and whether he has made provision i...More Button

The rate of payment of part-time home helps varies considerably and is determined by the requirements and the type of task undertaken in individual cases. It is a matter for each health board to deci...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Was asked: if he will review the availability of step-down hospital facilities in Dublin and, particularly, on the Northside, to identify action that would be taken to allow beds in acute hospitals to be vacated...More Button

Written Answers. - Optical Services.

Was asked: the steps, if any, he will take to address the two year waiting list for applicants for glasses in the County Donegal area of the North-Western Health Board.More Button

I recognise that difficulties have arisen with the scheme for the provision of eye testing and spectacles, especially in relation to the waiting lists that have built up. In order to deal with the ma...More Button

Written Answers. - Medical Treatment.

Was asked: the number of children each of the eight health boards have sent abroad during the past five years for various types of treatment; the amount the health boards are paying per child under 16 years of a...More Button

The information requested is not readily available. I have sought the information from the health boards and will forward it to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Was asked: when he will approve a requested grant of £12 million to upgrade theatre facilities in Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin 12.More Button

A project team, consisting of officials from my Department and hospital representatives, is currently preparing a development plan for the provision of additional operating theatres at the hospital. ...More Button

Written Answers. - General Practitioner Services.

Was asked: if he will introduce a comprehensive free general practice medical service for all; and, if so, the estimated cost of this service in comparison to the current service.More Button

I do not propose to change the basis of entitlement to health services in Ireland to provide free general practitioner medical services to all.More Button

Written Answers. - Health Centres.

Was asked: the current position regarding funding to the Western Health Board in the 1998 capital allocations for the provision of a health centre at Roundstone, County Galway in view of the fact that the provis...More Button

As the Deputy is aware the provision of health centres in the Galway area is a matter for the Western Health Board in the first instance. The Western Health Board has confirmed that the replacement of...More Button

Written Answers. - Mobile Phones.

Was asked: the investigations, if any, being conducted or which have been commissioned by his Department into the possible health dangers posed by use of mobile phones; and if no such steps have been taken, the ...More Button

I am aware there is some public concern about possible adverse health effects from exposure to radiation emissions from telecommunication masts associated with mobile phone systems. All significant r...More Button

Written Answers. - Orthdontic Service.

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 78 of 15 October 1997 the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo received a bill for £250 for orthodontic treatment in view of the fact that the treatm...More Button

As I stated to the Deputy in my reply to his question of 15 October 1997 I asked the Western Health Board for a comprehensive report on this issue. A report dated 18 November 1997 has now been receiv...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Was asked: whether he has satisfied himself that the modern technology currently available in all hospitals is comparable to that available throughout Europe and, consequently, conducive to attracting young medi...More Button

The reasons young doctors choose to spend part of their training abroad are many and varied. One of the principal reasons is to gain experience which is not readily available here. It has never been...More Button

Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.

Was asked: the current number of patients on waiting lists seeking heart surgery; the average length of time they are on these lists; the plans, if any, he has to deal with this problem; and if he will make a st...More Button

Public waiting list statistics are collected by hospitals and furnished to my Department on a quarterly basis. The figures for adults are recorded in two categories, those waiting between three and 1...More Button

Written Answers. - Naas (Kildare) General Hospital.

Was asked: whether his attention has been drawn to the serious overcrowding at Naas General Hospital, County Kildare; the steps, if any, he will take to alleviate this overcrowding; and if he will make a stateme...More Button

I am aware of current difficulties at Naas General Hospital. In an effort to reduce inconvenience to patients, I understand that the hospital has recently undertaken a number of initiatives as follow...More Button

Written Answers. - Services for Disabled Persons.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has for the necessary accommodation to cater for residential and respite care for persons with physical or mental disabilities; the extent to which current accommodation meets re...More Button

The Government's commitment to the ongoing development of services to persons with physical disabilities or mental handicap is clearly outlined in An Action Programme for the Millennium. I will be se...More Button

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Was asked: if he will have arrangements made for an early publication of the Food Safety Authority Bill.More Button


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