Thursday, 14 February 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Medical Products Supply
I thank the Deputy for the opportunity to address this issue on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Health. The community funded schemes are a collective name for the many products, supports, supplies and aids and appliances provided through the HSE community services for eligible persons. Their main purpose is to assist and support service users to live at home and also to facilitate hospital avoidance and assist with early discharge from hospital. The products are prescribed by consultants, GPs, public health nurses, continence advisers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and dieticians. The products include incontinence wear that is delivered to healthcare settings such as long-stay residential services and to persons in their own homes.
The HSE has a national contract for the supply of incontinence products. Following a tendering process, the HSE selected a new product supplier and a new product distributor in 2018. I understand from the HSE that the new contracts have involved a lot of changes in the range of products and their distribution. There have been some issues relating to the timely delivery of products under the new contract. In 2018, the HSE put measures in place, including additional staff, an electronic management system and training of drivers to address initial difficulties. The HSE has informed the Minister for Health that it is continuing to work closely with the contracted delivery partners to ensure that the problems experienced by some service users in the CHO west region and other CHO areas are addressed as a matter of priority.
A governance structure has been put in place to oversee the national contract for the supply and delivery of incontinence products to ensure the timely delivery of these products to eligible persons in their homes across all CHOs. This involves each CHO putting in place additional controls and monitoring measures in respect of the ordering and distribution of these products. To support this process, additional administration staff have been put in place to carry out this work. The HSE is committed to ensuring that these service improvements will result in an enhanced and more efficient service for all. In the mean time, service users should let their local public health nursing service or health centre know if they are experiencing difficulties with supply of products.