Adams raises BCG Vaccine concerns with Minister

SF Jennifer & GerrySinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his “serious concern at the failure of the Department of Health to make adequate provision for a supply of the BCG vaccine which provides effective protection against tuberculosis (TB).”

The Louth TD raised this issue with the Minister after Louth County Councillor Jennifer Green who “is due to give birth in three weeks informed me that she had been told that her baby would not be getting the BCG shortly after birth, as recommended by the HSE. Councillor Green and other expectant mothers she has spoken to is worried by this.”

In a PQ response to the Louth TD the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar detailed difficulties that have arisen with the Danish supplier for the vaccine for the HSE. According to the Minister the supplier “has been supplying BCG vaccine with significant delays due to issues in their production. The last shipment of BCG vaccine due to arrive at the end of October 2014 arrived at the end of December 2014. The delay in delivery meant that two months shelf life was lost and this expired at the end of April 2015. The HSE had sufficient BCG vaccine in Ireland until it expired at the end of April 2015.”

The Minister also revealed that “delivery of BCG vaccine produced in 2014 was suspended pending an extensive investigation regarding possible problems with the capping of the vials.”

This issue has now been resolved but this has added to the delay in production of new batches of the vaccine.

The conclusion of all of this, according to Minister Varadkar, is “that production of new product will not commence until August 2015 and due to a lengthy analysis and release procedure, vaccine from this production will not become available until the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016…The supplier does not expect that the delivery situation will be resolved until the first quarter of 2016 at the earliest.”

Gerry Adams said:

“The difficulties in supply of the BCG vaccine have been known by the Department of Health since last year. Despite this it has failed to identify an alternative supplier to provide vaccine in the short term until the Danish company sorts issues in their production.

“As a result at least 50,000 babies, and potentially many more, will not receive their BCG when appropriate. This is a matter of real concern given the dangers posed to humans from TB.

“Many grandparents will remember the time when to have TB was a life threatening experience which required long periods of isolation and convalescence. The development of the BCG vaccine (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) in France at the beginning of the last century provided an effective inoculation against this disease and consequently there has been a sustained decline in cases.

“This state has one of the lowest incidences in Europe. Last year there were 328 cases of TB.

“Notwithstanding this there can be no room for complacency. TB is a serious illness. 1,000 people develop it each day across Europe and it kills one and a half million people every year around the world.

“The Minister and Department of Health need to reassure the public that they are making every effort to secure alternative quantities of the vaccine and that when the Department and HSE procure a vaccine supply that measures will be put in place speedily to ensure that babies are vaccinated”.

Adams welcomes increased numbers of northern students for DkIT

Ard Fheis 8Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed news that Dundalk Institute of Technology has seen a “significant increase in the number of students from the north taking up courses.”

Teachta Adams said: “I have met the senior staff from DKIT several times in recent years and our discussions have always included how DKIT and the education system in this state can make it more attractive for students from the north to apply for places.

“Overall the number of students from the six counties who apply to enroll in third level education institutions in the south is small. It has averaged around only 0.5% of the student population. More needs to be done to improve this situation.

“One specific issue that has long needed to be addressed is the admissions criteria which is a matter for the individual institutions. The points system in this state means that most successful A Level students in the north who normally complete three A Levels – which are sufficient to secure university entrance within that education system – cannot reach the number of points needed for universities and institutes of technology in the south.

“I welcome the decision by DKIT to award additional points for A Level and BTEC exams and to allow students from the north taking a combination of A Levels, applied A Levels and BTEC exams to combine these for scoring purposes.

I also support the decision by the seven universities in the south to introduce new admissions criteria from September.

“The initiative taken by DKIT has seen a doubling of applications to it from the north. However there is enormous potential for greater growth.

More students travelling to third level education institutions on either side of the border is good for the students, for the education system and for society.”

Adams: Kenny response on HIQA reports ‘woefully inadequate’

Imelda & GerrySinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described a response from the Taoiseach to a letter Teachta Adams sent to him in July, calling on the government to urgently establish a public inquiry into the running of centres for citizens with intellectual disabilities, as “woefully inadequate”.

The Louth TD originally proposed this approach to Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil in March when Teachta Adams raised concerns about the Redwood Centre at Stamullen. He repeated it later when similar concerns were raised about St. Mary’s Drumcar in Louth.

Teachta Adams said:

“There is a real and significant crisis in the provision of care for citizens with intellectual disabilities. The government is failing to deal with this in an appropriate and urgent manner and Enda Kenny’s reply to me is evidence of this.

Today HIQA has reported “major non-compliance” in two more residential centres for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Both centres are part of the St. Patrick’s campus in Kilkenny. According to HIQA the adult centre is understaffed, poorly maintained, unclean and has an inadequate fire safety plan. HIQA reports that St. Michael’s centre failed to comply in respect of 11 of the 18 regulatory headings reviewed.

In respect of the second centre, which provides for children as young as five, HIQA reported concerns over healthcare and medication, governance and staffing.

The grave issues of concern raised in these two reports are regrettably not isolated cases. There have been a whole series of HIQA and media reports in the last year, beginning with the Aras Attracta RTE report that have highlighted serious concerns around the management, resourcing, funding and staff behaviour in care centres across the state caring for citizens with intellectual disabilities.

Last month I wrote to the Taoiseach asking that the government urgently establish an Independent Inquiry into the widespread public concerns at the care provision in homes for citizens with intellectual disabilities.

In his letter to me the Taoiseach claims that the government “takes the care of vulnerable people in the health service extremely seriously” but he then ignores the implications of a significant number of critical HIQA reports into care homes.  

In his response the Taoiseach also says that the Department of Health “has requested the HSE to develop action plans to address cases where HIQA has raised serious concerns regarding the level of care that people with a disability are receiving … including safeguarding the human rights of residents.”

Mr. Kenny’s letter claims that the “HSE is implementing a comprehensive change programme of measures to improve the quality and safety of residential services for people with disabilities.”

However, at the same time as the Taoiseach pens this letter HIQA has announced that 20 disability centres have received notice of proposals to cancel or refuse their applications for registration and have been given 28 days to make improvements and satisfy HIQA that immediate improvements will be made.

In April HIQA’s Chief Executive Phelim Quinn told a conference by Inclusion Ireland that the standard of care in some residential centres was “disturbing and chilling”.

He specifically blamed the congregational settings of these homes, that is centres where 10 or more citizens living in circumstances where they share a single living unit or where the living arrangements are campus based.

In its first year of this government the HSE published a report that committed the government to moving away from congregational living arrangements. The report said that the citizens affected by these arrangements are living in conditions where they “lack basic privacy and dignity.” The HSE report concluded that congregated provision is in breach of the state’s obligations under UN Conventions.

Four years later there are 3000 citizens still living in these unacceptable conditions.

There is an urgent need for the government to establish as a matter of urgency a fully Independent, root-and-branch inquiry into all care facilities for citizens with intellectual disabilities in the State. The Taoiseach’s letter provides no reassurance that the necessary steps will be taken to deal with this recurring and deepening crisis.

 

ADAMS TD – End Scandal in OLOL Emergency department

lg_adams_copy3Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called for an “urgent review of government policy and funding for the Health Service to end the scandal of patients stuck on trolleys in Emergency Departments.”

The Louth TD said:

“Waiting lists in Our Lady of Lourdes Emergency Department have remained consistently high. On Monday August 10th there were 35 patients on trolleys in OLOL – the worst in the state. The following day (today) Tuesday August 11th that number was 36.

“The summer period normally sees a drop in the volume of overcrowding in Emergency Departments but the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has reported that July saw the ‘highest ever level of overcrowding recorded.’ July 2015 witnessed a 94% increase in trolley numbers in ED’s since 2006.

“Our Lady of Lourdes – with 769 patients on trolleys In July – had the highest levels of overcrowding of any hospital in the state.

“This is deeply disturbing and is evidence of the abject failure of government policy in respect of the health service and the care of patients. New measures introduced by the Minister for Health are inadequate and the €74 million additional funding provided several months ago has failed to achieve any significant improvement in Emergency Department trolley numbers.

“The negative impact of this on patient care and patient well-being requires urgent additional funding by the government.

Urgent action is needed. It should include:

  • Immediate steps to recruit the required additional staff.
  • Additional resources to expand the role of the nurse in the acute care and in enhanced community services.
  • More acute beds and step down facilities must be established.”

 

Adams – Inside The Ard Dealgan Nightmare

Ard Dealgan July 2015 1Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has urged Louth County Council to “prioritise as a matter of urgency the future of the Ard Dealgan apartment block in Quay Street, Dundalk.”

The Louth TD’s call comes after the third picket organised by local Councillor Jennifer Green at the site in recent months. Teachta Adams attended the picket on Friday and said “The Ard Dealgan apartment complex stands as a ruined monument to the worst excesses of the housing development corruption that was a key factor in the economic collapse 7 years ago.

The complex was poorly designed and constructed and was vacated in 2009 as a consequence of fire safety concerns. Since then it has become a blight on the local urban landscape, a source of annoyance and concern for the community around it, and a magnet for anti-social behaviour.”

At Friday’s picket, Gerry Adams TD and Councillor Pearse McGeough had an opportunity to get inside the complex for the first time.

“It reminded me of the Divis and Moyard Flats complexes’ in west Belfast that were built in the 1960s and which were demolished because of the appalling conditions residents were forced to endure.

As well as fires, noise and pollution issues, Councillor Jennifer Green and Councillor Pearse McGeough who accompanied me last Friday saw evidence that the complex is being used by drug addicts. There were needles lying dangerously about.

Questions over the ownership of Ard Dealgan; disputes over who has responsibility for securing it; and a lack of planning for its future has seen the internal structure of the Ard Dealgun complex seriously deteriorate.

In June Louth County Council indicated that they would ‘explore a residential option’ for the 73 units contained in Ard Dealgan for local housing needs. This would require a significant investment of public money.

The Ard Dealgan complex has been lying boarded up and empty for almost 6 years. There is an onus on the Council and on the department of the Environment to find an urgent resolution to this issue.”

Councillor Jennifer Green thanked the residents from the surrounding area for braving the poor weather and insisted “the people need to stand up and demand an end to this nightmare. It has been going on too long. I am a mother of 2 adventurous boys who would just love to explore Ard Dealgan and the very thought of it fills me with horror when I see what the inside is like.  We will continue with these monthly pickets until there is some resolution on the issue.”

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These are some of the pictures that were taken inside the Ard Dealgan complex when Gerry Adams TD gained access with Cllr Pearse McGeough and two members of the Watters Brothers SF Cumann.

You can see the state of the place and how unsafe it all is and the drug paraphernalia just lying around.

Pics are courtesy of Enda Flynn