Written answers

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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341. To ask the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 342 of 24 February 2022, if the paediatric orthopaedic funding allocated from the waiting list fund has been provided on a recurring or on a once-off basis. [12237/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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In January I asked the HSE to develop a dedicated plan to tackle scoliosis waiting lists this year.  In February I met with senior officials of Children’s Heath Ireland (CHI) and the HSE, as well as senior orthopaedic clinicians from Temple Street, Crumlin and Cappagh, to discuss the finalisation of the proposals to increase orthopaedic activity at CHI. The plan proposes ambitious additional activity levels which will work to reduce the number of children waiting for spinal orthopaedic procedures (scoliosis and spina bifida) by year end.

This latest initiative is further evidence of this Government’s commitment to address the issues facing these children. Both current and capital funding has been provided to a value of €19 million in 2022 to support this initiative.

In relation to the funding of this initiative, all capital funding, by its nature, is on a once-off basis. In terms of revenue costs, the €4.7 million in funding for 24 additional beds and 2 additional critical care beds has been provided to CHI since 2021 as part of its base allocation on a recurring basis. The balance of funding is sourced from the 2022 Access to Care fund, which as the Deputy will be aware is allocated annually, and therefore is once off for 2022. The commitment to fund the activities in this plan, and the associated requirement to ensure continued funding for the staffing needs of this initiative, will mean that securing recurring funding for these positions will be prioritised as part of the 2023 Estimates and Budget process.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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342. To ask the Minister for Health if the ethical standards for healthcare of an organisation (details supplied) are currently or will be applied or adhered to in any current or future maternity hospital. [12238/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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Under the Health Act, the HSE is responsible for the operation and delivery of health services in HSE hospitals, with services in the voluntary hospitals provided under section 38 of the Health Act and in accordance with the Service Level Agreements between the HSE and the section 38 hospitals, and in line with the National Service Plan, which sets out the type and volume of health and social care services the HSE will provide for the funding it receives from Government.

With regard to the provision of healthcare services, it should be noted that, medical practitioners are bound through professional regulatory mechanisms to operate in accordance with best medical practice and to have regard to the Guidelines on Standards and Behaviour issued by the Medical Council.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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343. To ask the Minister for Health if the board of an organisation (details supplied) will include a public interest member, a National Maternity Hospital member or a female member to represent women’s maternity care interests; and if not, if he sought the inclusion of these board members. [12239/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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I understand that St. Vincent’s Holdings CLG, which was incorporated in August 2020, is a not-for-profit company with charitable status and will be governed by Irish company law. 

I am advised that a statement on the St Vincent's Healthcare Group (SVHG) website also indicates that the constitution of St. Vincent’s Holdings CLG has received the required approval from the Charities Regulator. The constitution has been published on the SVHG website. The main object of the constitution of the company, as published, is ‘to advance healthcare in Ireland, a purpose of benefit to the community, by promoting medical education, medical research and patient care in all areas of medicine through the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group, and to reflect compliance with national and international best practice guidelines on medical ethics and the laws of Ireland’. 

In addition, information published on the SVHG website indicates that the Board of St Vincent’s Holdings CLG will comprise independent directors who will be appointed based on their competencies and skills.

I take it the Deputy’s question arises in the context of the proposed relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to the St Vincent’s University Hospital campus. As the Deputy will be aware, work is ongoing to put appropriate legal arrangements in place that provides the necessary assurances around all legally permissible services being provided in the new NMH. In addition, the safeguarding of the State’s investment must also be affirmed beyond doubt. I will bring a proposal to Government for approval once I am satisfied that the legal arrangements achieve the objectives that I set out above. However, I will not be making any further comment in relation to this matter until the process of engagement and deliberation regarding the legal arrangements has concluded.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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344. To ask the Minister for Health if women will be able to access abortion, sterilisation, contraception or IVF healthcare or related treatment from the new national maternity hospital. [12240/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Government is committed to the development of the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) planned for the St Vincent’s University Hospital Campus at Elm Park, as set out in the Programme for Government. The Government is also aware of the concerns that have been raised regarding ownership and governance of the new NMH, and recognises that these matters must be addressed.

The relocation of the NMH is a vital project and I have been clear that I will not bring any proposal to Government unless it provides assurances around all legally permissible services being provided in the new NMH. The safeguarding of the State’s investment must also be affirmed beyond doubt. As I have stated previously, work is ongoing on the legal arrangements that will be put in place to achieve these objectives.

I will bring a proposal to Government for approval to proceed once I am satisfied that the legal arrangements achieve the objectives that I set out above. However, I will not be making any further comment in relation to this matter until the process of engagement and deliberation regarding the legal arrangements has concluded.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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345. To ask the Minister for Health if the directors of an organisation (details supplied) will be shareholders with the right to sell or seek a mortgage or financing against any or all of its properties within the holding’s portfolio including the National Maternity Hospital. [12241/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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In relation to the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH), the Government's key objectives in terms of the ownership and governance arrangements for the new hospital are, firstly, to ensure that all legally permissible services will be provided in the new NMH, and secondly, and of particular relevance to the Deputy’s question, to ensure that the safeguarding of the State’s investment in the hospital is affirmed beyond doubt.

Work is ongoing to finalise the legal arrangements that will underpin the relocation of the new NMH. However, I wish to emphasise again that I will not bring any proposal to Government unless it provides assurances around these two core objectives. I do not intend to make further comment until work on the legal arrangements has concluded.

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