Deputy Broughan has been consistently raising the issue of the long delays for parents in accessing an assessment of needs for their children, when required. Deputy Broughan has represented many constituents who have been concerned and upset at the lack of early intervention assessments. The HSE has a statutory obligation to complete Stage 1 of the assessment process within 3 months of receiving an application. Figures released recently to Deputy Broughan show that the average length of time to complete an assessment of need stood at 18.48 months in 2018 and that there were 3,611 overdue applications at the end of 2018.
Deputy Broughan recently submitted a Private Members’ Motion on Spinraza and it is now on the clár of the Dáil. The motion is supported by Deputies Thomas Pringle, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Catherine Connolly, Maureen O’Sullivan, Gino Kenny, Bríd Smith, and Richard Boyd Barrett and Deputy Broughan hopes for an early opportunity to debate the motion.
There are approximately 70 people, including 26 children, in Ireland with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which is a rare and life-limiting muscle-wasting condition. SMA is the number one genetic cause of death for infants worldwide and will affect around 1 in 11,000 babies born worldwide each year. Spinraza or Nusinersen, which is produced by Biogen, is the first treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and is available in 25 of the 28 countries in the European Union but in February 2019, the HSE did not approve Spinraza for reimbursement in Ireland and negotiations with Biogen are ongoing.
I commend my colleague, Deputy Joan Collins, on her tremendous work in bringing forward this motion on the local drug and alcohol task forces. The motion strongly supports the work of the task forces, which are central to the implementation of the Government strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, of 2017. The motion calls on the Government to implement the commitment in the programme for Government to allocate an emerging needs fund; to commit to urgent implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018; to accelerate the work of the Garda asset profilers; to ensure a partnership approach to the new youth scheme; and to conclude the HSE review, among other measures. The Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin amendments are also very welcome.
Today, Deputy Broughan spoke on the motion on Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces (LDATFs) which was brought forward by his colleague, Deputy Joan Collins and which he co-signed. The motion calls for the implementation of the commitment in the Programme for Government to allocate an emerging needs fund; the commitment to urgently implement the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018; and the acceleration of the work of Garda Asset Profilers. Today’s motion also called on the Government to ensure a partnership approach to the new youth scheme and to conclude the HSE Review of Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces amongst some other measures.
Last week, Deputy Broughan wrote about access to Spinraza for SMA sufferers. Another treatment for a rare disease that he has consistently been raising has been access to Kuvan for people with PKU (Phenylketonuria).
Today, Deputy Broughan received the following welcome response from the HSE following his most recent Parliamentary Question on the matter:
Members may remember that in the late 1990s on behalf of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, I brought forward the first trade union recognition Bill to the House. That was in the early part of the struggle to win trade union recognition for SIPTU baggage handlers who worked for Ryanair. So it seems incongruous tonight, so many years later, that we should need to have this debate regarding the negotiation rights of a significant cohort of key public service workers, the National Ambulance Service Representative Association, NASRA, which is a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, PNA.
The budget we approved last October included €7.3 billion of capital expenditure, as the Minister noted. The allocation for capital spending since then has shown a welcome return to investment in public infrastructure. For nearly a decade since 2008, the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments kept capital spending below the 2% depreciation rate, which was an utterly disgraceful policy.
On Monday I held my two information clinics in Darndale and Donnycarney. For a large part of Tuesday afternoon, I attended the Seanad Reform Implementation Group meeting and debated possible amendments to the Report and the Bill. I have since submitted my own annex and minority report to the group. I asked for the 60 members of Seanad Éireann to be elected by all the people on the same franchise and similar constituencies to Dáil Éireann. I also attended the Budgetary Oversight Committee which was discussing the failure to make adequate provision for the Health Budget.
Today I started my day by voting for Michael D Higgins for a second term as President of Ireland and by voting ‘yes’ to remove blasphemy as an offence from the Constitution. I wish him the very best of luck in today’s election.
Deputy Broughan recently asked the Minister for Health about the delay in accessing mental health supports in Dublin 5 after concerned constituents contacted him about the waiting times for Kilbarrack East and West Mental Health Services, Kilbarrack Health Centre, Coolock Health Centre and Killester Mental Health Service. Earlier this week, Deputy Broughan received a reply from the HSE stating that the “indicative timelines for the next available routine Mental Health Outpatient assessment appointment dates” were 8 weeks for Coolock, 10 weeks for Killester, 11 weeks for Kilbarrack East and 12 months for Kilbarrack West. The reply also stated that if a referral is “deemed urgent during the triage process, the service user will be prioritised for an urgent assessment. There is also a suicide crisis assessment nurse in place which helps address urgent cases.”