Harney, Mary

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 670 No. 3

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Order of Business.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 2 be agreed to.”
Yes IndicatorVoted Yes More Button

Estimates for Public Services 2008.

Votes put.
Yes IndicatorVoted Yes More Button

Health Bill 2008: Second Stage (Resumed).

I thank Deputies who contributed to the debate. In response to the two Deputies who spoke immediately before me, one year ago next Sunday the Fine Gael spokesperson on health, Deputy James Reilly, to...More Button

In response to Deputy McGinley’s comments on the Voluntary Health Insurance, the granting of a medical card did not affect private health insurance policies except in respect of the VHI’s plan P. App...More Button

Deputy Tom Hayes raised the affordability of nursing home care, which is an important issue. As Deputies are aware, if somebody is in a publicly funded or publicly provided bed, 95% of the cost is pa...More Button

I am not suggesting that. However, persons aged 66 and 67 years may earn a maximum income of €298 — as a couple — to qualify for a medical card. What we are doing for those aged over 70 years is sub...More Button

I will not deal with issues of trust. I will let someone else be objective about that. Regarding the issue of same-sex couples, which was raised by Deputy Noonan, this legislation applies to cohabiti...More Button

I will not go into who agreed to it. Each side did their job. I am not going to get involved in that. We cannot change it, other than through changing this legislation because the fee was based on ...More Button

We have not done a longitudinal study in Ireland. Discussions are currently under way between Dr. Kenny, a leading geriatrician at St. James’s Hospital, my Department, the HSE and others on this area...More Button

We could not possibly have any evidence on the over 70s medical card, which only became operable in 2002. If Deputy Reilly is telling me a study was published in 2004——More Button

A longitudinal study is not a two-year study. More Button

I understand a longitudinal study takes a minimum of 15 years. The study being done on children will take 15 to 20 years. More Button

It is a fact that life expectancy in Ireland has greatly increased over the last decade, which we all welcome. It is acknowledged by many experts that 50% to 60% of the increase in life expectancy in...More Button

They are not being cut. More Button

More people than ever are receiving home help services. More Button

I suggest Deputy Stagg brief himself on the facts because he has been saying the same thing in this House for 11 years. There are 53,000 families in receipt of home help services, which is the highes...More Button

There is loads of money. That is not the case. There is almost €16 billion. More Button

I am prioritising services for older people, cancer services and the screening programme.More Button

No country has introduced the vaccine without a proper screening programme. The screening programme only began in September. More Button

There are many other countries that do not have it either, as Deputy Reilly knows. More Button

The HSE has €1 billion extra and it could always do with more.More Button

We do not have unlimited resources. More Button

We do not have unlimited resources. The last time Deputy Connaughton’s party was in office there were no home care packages.More Button

Yes, there is, from a zero base.More Button

Given the circumstances in which we find ourselves, with the economic challenges we face and the support we need to provide for social services in health, education and social welfare, this Bill is ap...More Button

About 5% of them will lose it.More Button

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand part of the main question.”
Yes IndicatorVoted Yes More Button

Health Bill 2008: Committee Stage.

As I said on closing the Second Stage debate, the financial sustainability of the automatic entitlement to a medical card on reaching the age of 70 is not possible. I said that the general medical ca...More Button

It is a matter for the House, not for me, to decide which document we are discussing.More Button

I know Deputy Reilly is not. I want to make it clear that I have no role in having amendments ruled in order or not. It is a matter purely for the Houses of the Oireachtas.More Button

I move amendment No. 2: In page 4, subsection (2), lines 3 and 4, to delete “this Part by virtue of section 45(5A)” and substitute the following: “Part IV of the Act of 1970 by virtue of section 45(5A...More Button

There are a number of matters to which I want to respond in respect of issues raised by Deputy Shatter. I will then turn to technical issues. The Bill was drafted by my Department in consultation wit...More Button

If we have all the exceptions that people are talking about and so many people are going to lose their cards, then the saving will be immense indeed. From what I am hearing, all kinds of people will ...More Button

It has been the practice for State benefits in the medical card area and in other areas like housing to treat cohabiting couples on the same basis as married couples for many reasons. In the early pa...More Button

No. We are treating people, whether they are married or single, on the basis of income. It is exactly on the same basis. It is based totally on equality. The Deputy earlier claimed that what we ar...More Button

My advice is different. I will clarify it shortly. Somebody on €600 per week who lives alone having been deserted or abandoned, or whatever the case may be, will be eligible. I know somebody aged a...More Button

A few moments ago I explained in response to Deputy Barrett that there are three routes for an over 70 year old to get a medical card. There is the route based on gross income, the discretionary card...More Button

People have medical cards based on their financial circumstances and weekly incomes, for single people €700 per week and for married people €1,400 per week. Anybody who does not qualify on those grou...More Button

I do not want to be overly political in the debate, although I suppose it is a rather political debate, but I mentioned this to Deputy Reilly earlier and I will say it again. Deputy Reilly says that ...More Button

I will tell the Deputy about a few reports. We mentioned life expectancy earlier. Between 1966 and 1996, people aged 70 added one year to their average lifespan. In the ten-year period between 1996...More Button

Much of it — 60% — is to do with better health interventions. With regard to visits to general practitioners, the evidence, including the SRI survey, shows that a person over 70 who has free medical t...More Button

There was an implication——More Button

I agree they are all important issues. I want to deal with the issue of income. First, I will deal with one more item, the waiting times for procedures in comparison with Northern Ireland.More Button

I will deal with that. The National Treatment Purchase Fund published results today and they show a dramatic improvement. The number of people waiting for procedures is down 60% on this time last ye...More Button

I agree that is an issue.More Button

That is an issue and that is why——More Button

I am responding to a point made earlier about Northern Ireland.More Button

I apologise, Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I assume we are dealing with that issue too. With regard to the individualisation of assessment, Deputy Barrett is correct that individualisation exists in the tax...More Button

I accept that but the circumstances then were very different. With the demographic and financial position in which this country finds itself, it is not financially sustainable without substantially r...More Button

Question put.
Yes IndicatorVoted Yes More Button

I move amendment No. 4: In page 4, to delete line 31 and substitute the following: “(b) persons who were married to another person until that other person’s death, or lived with that other person as h...More Button

The medical card scheme is generally on an administrative basis with the exception of the 2001 Act relating to those over 70. Notwithstanding that, the practice is that when someone under 70 becomes ...More Button

I refer to the latter issue first. A brother and sister cannot apply for an old age pension or any other social welfare benefit together. I do not mean to be smart but we operate on the basis that f...More Button

With regard to Deputy Shatter’s question it is not envisaged that any additional personnel will be required. Next year, as the Deputy is aware, the intention is to advance a redundancy programme with...More Button

I do not think too many people over the age of 70 who are widowed will put an advertisement in the newspaper to suggest that someone comes and lives with them so they can keep their medical cards. I ...More Button

I remember thinking that someday we will all receive such a letter. A person is entitled to the pension and the purpose of the letter is not to confirm circumstances with regard to one’s earnings. I...More Button

All guidelines with regard to this age group will have to be amended in accordance with the new legislation. Prior to Christmas it is my intention to meet, along with my officials, the HSE and those ...More Button

I agree with Deputy Shatter that a court challenge to the provision of a medical card to a widow or widower is unlikely. That is not the issue. The concern is that a single person might initiate leg...More Button

That is the advice we have received. We have been further advised that a period of three years is reasonable and that a longer period or an indefinite period might be subject to serious legal challen...More Button

I move amendment No. 5: In page 4, line 32, to delete “(b) dependants of the persons referred to in” and substitute the following: “(c) dependants of the persons referred to in”.More Button

I said earlier that we intend to do this on an administrative basis. However, since this provision is the same, I will accept the amendment, subject to the requirement for any drafting amendment. I ...More Button

I cannot accept the amendment. This would be an entirely new role for the Health Information and Quality Authority. The remit of that authority is to set standards, monitor compliance with those sta...More Button

On the Deputy’s final point, this is precisely what we are changing by introducing a new contract. It is not acceptable to me, as a citizen and human being, that some people are given preferential ac...More Button

Yes, but unless one deals with capacity issues——More Button

I want the level of private activity in our public hospitals to be greatly reduced because the sole purpose of the public system is to serve the medical needs of citizens. As to the question of which ...More Button

I accept that. We must prioritise the services we provide, irrespective of whether resources are made available from general taxation or a combination of social insurance and taxation or private insu...More Button

We do not yet have a licensing regime. As the Deputy will be aware, the Commission on Patient Safety chaired by Dr. Madden recommended a licensing regime. We must introduce such a regime as quickly ...More Button

Amendment put.
No IndicatorVoted No More Button

Question put.
Yes IndicatorVoted Yes More Button

Written Answers - Nursing Home Subventions.

Was asked: the reason the increased high dependency subvention for nursing home patients that was due to start on 1 January 2008 has not been provided; if she will address this matter; and if she will back date...More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: if she will allocate funding to an organisation (details supplied) in order that they can access a language line so that victims of domestic violence who do not speak English can have access to their...More Button

Written Answers - Medical Cards.

Was asked: her response to the submission made to her by an organisation (details supplied) prior to budget 2009; if she will address the financial problems amputees have as a result of unavoidable expenses suc...More Button

Was asked: her response to a submission from an organisation (details supplied) to address the financial problems faced by amputees as a result of the cost of prosthetic limbs and other costs; and if she will m...More Button

Was asked: the amount of savings which a person can have before they are excluded from entitlement to a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Medical cards are made available by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) se...More Button

Written Answers - Health and Safety Assessments.

Was asked: if a risk assessment (details supplied) has been carried out at locations; if these risks included ornamental fountains; and the precautions that have been put in place as a result of these risk asse...More Button

My Department has no water fountains in any of its buildings. In December 2007, Health Buildings International (HBI) were contracted by the Office of Public Works to carry out a Risk Assessment Survey...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Expenditure.

Was asked: the number of staff in terms of whole time equivalents she has allocated within her Department to support the Better Regulation group’s work; the financial resources that have been spent in support o...More Button

The concept of Better Regulation is one to which my Department is wholly committed. Officers from my Department at Principal, Assistant Principal and Administrative Officer level, as appropriate, hav...More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: the cost of security cover for the former Bon Secours Hospital in Tuam, County Galway since the site was acquired by the Health Service Executive up to 1 December 2008; and if she will make a stateme...More Button

Written Answers - Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Was asked: the reason a claim by a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not been processed together with a further 2000 outstanding claims under the nursing home repayment scheme which are awaiting ve...More Button

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive. ...More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: if there is a developmental clinic for young infants available in the health centre, Loughrea, County Galway; the age at which children are called for these assessments; and if she will make a statem...More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Was asked: the reason for the delay in processing the claim for a person (details supplied) under the health repayment scheme; the further reason an appeal lodged in September 2007 was not responded to; the ave...More Button

The Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office is an independent office established to provide an appeals service to those who wish to appeal the decision of the Scheme Administrator under the Health (Rep...More Button

Written Answers - Vaccination Programme.

Was asked: when a child (details supplied) in County Cork will receive their BCG immunisation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Foster Care.

Was asked: the number of children and teenagers with foster families here. More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: the number of children considered at risk here who are under the observation of the Health Service Executive. More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Offices.

Was asked: the number of square meters of unused office space or potential office space in the Health Service Executive estate in County Donegal; and the number of metres of office space or potential office spa...More Button

Office space in the Health Service Executive estate in County Donegal is a service issue and the query has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.More Button

Was asked: the amount of money being spent on the renting and leasing of private property by the Health Service Executive in each of the 26 counties on a county basis in tabular form. More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Was asked: the reason a claim by a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim under the nursing home repayment scheme was refused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - General Medical Services Scheme.

Was asked: the number of general practitioners who will retire year on year over the next five years; the plans in place to replace these GPs in view of the fact that there is a lead-in time in excess of a year...More Button

The number of General Practitioners who are in active practice is some 2,500, of which some 2,100 are contracted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide services under the General Medical Ser...More Button

Written Answers - Hospital Staff.

Was asked: the number of consultants who will retire year on year over the next five years; the specialties in which these retirements will take place; the plans in place to replace these consultants in view of...More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: the reason public health nurses in the north east are not doing dressings for patients who are medical card holders; if it was not the purpose of the Health Service Executive to bring uniformity of s...More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Child Care Services.

Was asked: the amount of money recouped from private child care providers in County Meath who received a grant to develop and operate a child care facility and who subsequently ceased to operate; and if she wil...More Button

Was asked: the individual grants given to private child care providers in County Meath from 2003 to date in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the private child care facilities which received a grant in the period 2003 to 2008 in County Meath and which no longer operate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the procedure for recoupment of public moneys in County Meath when a private child care provider who has received a public grant ceases to operate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Written Answers - Medical Aids and Appliances.

Was asked: if the Health Service Executive will provide local minor repair services for hearing aids in County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: the steps she proposes to take to counteract the adverse impact on dental patients of the halving of tax relief in budget 2009 for patients who require non-routine dental treatments such as orthodont...More Button

My Department and the Health Research Board periodically sponsor epidemiological studies aimed at assessing the oral health status of the population. There is no evidence available to me at present t...More Button

Written Answers - Health Representative Organisations.

Was asked: if the role of the Irish Dental Association will be given essential recognition under the plans to amend the Competition Act 2002 to allow for greater engagement with health representative bodies; an...More Button

My Department engages with the Irish Dental Association on an ongoing basis in relation to a wide range of issues. I met with the Irish Dental Association on the 15th November last where the issue of...More Button

Written Answers - Child Care Services.

Was asked: the position of the application by an association (details supplied) for funding under the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 for a new and purpose built child care facility to include...More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: when a child (details supplied) in County Longford will receive essential orthodontic treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Services for People with Disabilities.

Was asked: the funding allocation for 2009 in respect of the disability sector following the diverting of €17 million from this sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: her plans on behalf of an association for persons with an intellectual disability (details supplied) in County Longford, to ensure continued service to users of this facility in view of the cut in al...More Button

Was asked: if the final tranche of the multi-investment programme initiated in 2005, which amounts to €50 million, will be delivered to the disability sector in 2009, the final year of the programme; and if she...More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: if she will provide funding to the Health Service Executive for the provision of an outpatient addiction treatment centre for Waterford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As the Deputy’s question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Was asked: when a health centre (details supplied) in County Clare will be opened; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that it is ready to be occupied and that the running costs are unlikely to be much ...More Button

As the Deputy’s question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. More Button

Written Answers - Clinical Indemnity Scheme.

Was asked: the progress that has been made in discussions aimed at including independent midwives in the State’s insurance package; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Historically the Irish Nurses Organisation has facilitated a certain level of insurance cover to independent self-employed community midwives who were members of that organisation. As and from 30th Se...More Button

Written Answers - Health Service Staff.

Was asked: the number of occupational therapists who have been recruited in 2008 to fill the estimated 183 unfilled posts at the end of 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Almost 130,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government’s ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant i...More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: when a response to a proposal (details supplied) will issue. More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. More Button

Written Answers - Consultancy Contracts.

Was asked: the position regarding all contracts for the years 2007 and 2008 with consultants in relation to the preparation of reports of any kind; the name of the consultants; the cost for each report; and if ...More Button

The information requested regarding consultancy expenditure for the years 2007 and 2008 is set out in the following document, a copy of which has issued directly to the Deputy: 2007 2007 —continued 20...More Button

Written Answers - Ambulance Service.

Was asked: if she is satisfied that the ambulance fleet throughout the country has been adequately updated and modernised in terms of vehicles, equipment, staff and staff training; and if she will make a statem...More Button

Was asked: the number of ambulances attached to the Kildare-west Wicklow area of the Health Service Executive; the location at which they are stationed; the number of ambulance personnel within the same area an...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 and 143 together. As the issues raised are service related, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: the extent to which her Department has identified specific funding for orthodontics; if this is expected to meet requirements in terms of a reduction in waiting lists; and if she will make a statemen...More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Services for People with Disabilities.

Was asked: the number of children born in each of the past ten years affected by autism or Asperger’s syndrome; the degree to which research has been undertaken to identify possible cause or causes on a county ...More Button

Written Answers - Hospital Staffing.

Was asked: the degree to which agency nursing staff are utilised in the public and private hospital sectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As the question asked by the Deputy in so far as it refers to the public hospital sector is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. Information on the utilisation of agency ...More Button

Written Answers - Accident and Emergency Services.

Was asked: if she is satisfied regarding the availability of adequate accident and emergency staff at all locations throughout the country over the next 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter...More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Cancer Incidence.

Was asked: the extent to which she has received or sought information which might indicate the level of various forms of cancer on a county or regional basis; if any such comparisons have been made with previou...More Button

Statistics in relation to cancer incidence are collated by the National Cancer Registry. My Department has asked the Director of the Registry to examine this matter and to reply directly to the Deput...More Button

Written Answers - Hospital Services.

Was asked: the number of cystic fibrosis patients who received transplants here in the past 12 months; the number referred overseas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.More Button

Written Answers - Cancer Screening Programme.

Was asked: the extent to which laboratory facilities to meet all expected requirements are available here without referring same overseas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I assume the Deputy is referring to the cytology laboratory provider for CervicalCheck, the National Cervical Screening Programme. The contract was awarded to Quest Diagnostics earlier this year. As...More Button

Written Answers - Health Services.

Was asked: the extent to which the health budget for 2009 is expected to meet requirements in full to the end of 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I approved the National Service Plan for the Health Service Executive on Tuesday and I have laid it before both Houses. In approving the Plan I emphasised the necessity for the HSE to operate within ...More Button

Written Answers - Hospital Accommodation.

Was asked: the extent to which comparisons have been made regarding bed occupancy in the public and private sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the number of hospital beds available to the health services in the public and private sector; the way this compares with the number available over the past 20 years; and if she will make a statement...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 and 137 togehter. The latest available comparable national data on average bed numbers in the public acute hospital sector relates to the period 1993 to 2006. Thi...More Button

Was asked: the number of extra public hospital beds expected to become available to co-location; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The aim of the acute hospital co-location initiative is to make available approximately 1,000 additional public acute hospital beds for public patients by transferring private activity, with some limi...More Button

Written Answers - Cancer Incidence.

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 420 of 8 July 2008, if she has given further consideration to conducting a baseline health study in the Cobh area of County Cork; and if she will make a statemen...More Button

Earlier this week my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government published the report on the assessment of current site conditions at the former Irish Steel facility at H...More Button

Written Answers - Nursing Home Subventions.

Was asked: when persons (details supplied) in County Roscommon will be considered for the new nursing home scheme. More Button

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Bill 2008 was published on 9 October and the Minister introduced it at Second Stage in the Dáil on 13 November. It is intended to progress the legislation through the...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Expenditure.

Was asked: her estimate of the annual cost to the Exchequer of providing each carer with a needs assessment every year, every two years and every three years. More Button

Was asked: her estimate of the annual cost to the Exchequer of providing a free medical check to each carer. More Button

Was asked: her estimate of the annual cost to the Exchequer of providing in-home respite for a week to each carer. More Button

Written Answers - Medical Cards.

Was asked: the position of a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied)in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.More Button

Written Answers - Nursing Home Subventions.

Was asked: the money which she had made available in the 2009 Estimates for implementation of the nursing home support scheme; if it will be funded on a demand led basis from the date of its introduction; the n...More Button


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