Thursday, 19 March 2020
An Bille Sláinte (Caomhnú agus Cosaint agus Bearta Éigeandála Eile Ar Mhaithe Le Leas an Phobail), 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
Simon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
I am not in a position to accept the amendment because I believe we can achieve what Deputy O'Reilly is endeavouring to achieve. We are satisfied that the definition of "home" covers a place of lodging from a legal perspective. More importantly, on Deputy Ó Snodaigh's point, if people find themselves not in a position to be able to adequately self-isolate in their home or place of lodging, or however we refer to it, there will obviously be an obligation on us to ensure they can safely self-isolate somewhere else. The HSE is working on that, whether it will be a hospital setting, as we have already seen, or other accommodation which we are working on securing, such as nursing home facilities, private hospitals, hotels and the like. We are satisfied with that. Everybody has to be treated equally in terms of their ability to self-isolate for themselves but also to contain the spread of the virus.
In response to Deputy Stanley on the GP issue, that should not arise. I know Deputy Stanley shares the view that our GPs have been heroic in their work in this regard and they have gone above and beyond. The position is clear. People should not have to pay for the telephone consultation because we, the State and the taxpayer, are paying for that.
Deputy Naughten referred to the issue of prescription fees, which comes back to an issue of Exchequer funding. I see the logic in what he is saying but I would need to consult with colleagues on it. He makes a very valid point about repeat prescriptions, as does Deputy O'Reilly, who has been pursuing this in recent days.
It is my intention to amend the statutory instrument to elongate the repeat prescription in order to free up vital GP slots and to assist pharmacists.