Written answers

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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173. To ask the Minister for Health the way he plans to deal with the serious escalation of drug abuse in the capital and all other cities, towns and communities throughout the country; if an awareness campaign is required to highlight the dangers in this trend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57919/21]

Photo of Frank FeighanFrank Feighan (Sligo-Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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Government policy in relation to drug and alcohol addiction services is set out in the national drugs strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery-a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025.

Earlier this year the Health Research Board published the National Drug and Alcohol Survey 2019/20, which is funded by the Department of Health and managed by the Health Research Board. The survey provides information on alcohol, tobacco, and drug use amongst the general population in Ireland.

The survey findings show that, overall, the use of illegal drugs has remained at a similar level to that recorded in the 2014/15 survey, while an increase was seen in the use of cocaine and ecstasy. Cannabis, while being the most prevalent illegal drug in Ireland, has also shown a decrease from 6.5% to 5.9% when compared to the 2014/15 survey. A significant decrease in the instances of Cannabis Use Disorder has also been recorded.

Our national drug strategy recognises the need to strengthen early harm reduction responses to current and emerging trends and patterns of drug use. The recently completed mid-term review of the strategy shows significant progress in implementing the action plan for the period 2017 to 2020, with only a small number of the 50 actions outstanding. Access and availability of drug services have been improved, particularly services for women, people who are homeless, and those with heroin addiction. A new clinical programme for dual diagnosis has been developed and the Government is championing an alternative health-led approach for the possession of drugs for personal use.

As part of the mid-term review six strategic priorities have been identified for the remaining years of the strategy until 2025. These will strengthen the health-led approach to drug use, as agreed in the Programme for Government, and align with the EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan.

These priorities will protect children and young people from drug use and the associated harms and enhance community care for people who use drugs by providing health and social care services at the community level to meet identified health needs.

To support the implementation of the strategic priorities, I provided additional funding of €6m for new health measures in Budget 2022.

Photo of Thomas GouldThomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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174. To ask the Minister for Health if he has received a business proposal for the new elective hospital in County Cork; and if not, when he expects to receive same. [55908/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The provision of additional elective care delivery capability in Cork, Galway, and Dublin is a stated Government policy objective.

The Elective Hospitals Oversight Group, under the joint governance of the HSE, Department of Health and Sláintecare, is guiding the development of the elective hospitals. The development of three elective hospitals will require significant infrastructural investment and therefore the Oversight Group is following the process outlined in the updated Public Spending Code (PSC), setting out the value for money requirements for the evaluation, planning and management of large public investment projects.

The PSC is designed to ensure that investment decisions are underpinned by a clear policy rationale, and that costs are well understood. In 2019, the PSC was updated and introduced a new project lifecycle, tightening the arrangements for project decision-making, and clarifying the roles of the parties involved including the responsibilities for Sponsoring Agencies and Approving Authorities.

All capital development proposals must progress through several approval stages, in line with the new lifecycle approach of the updated PSC, including detailed appraisal, planning, design and procurement before a firm timeline or funding requirement can be established.

The specific requirements that must be included in a business case at the various stages of the PSC, are detailed at www.gov.ie/en/publication/public-spending-code/.

A Preliminary Business Case (PBC) for new elective hospitals, including in County Cork, was submitted to the Department of Health in September 2021 and is currently being reviewed within the Department in line with the requirements of the PSC. If technically compliant and approved, the PBC will be further reviewed by the Department of Expenditure and Reform. Subject to all PSC requirements at Gate 1 being met, a Memorandum for Government seeking approval-in-principle to proceed to the next stage of the PSC could be brought forward in the near future.


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