498. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vulnerability assessments that have been identified as being necessary for applicants seeking asylum; the number carried out in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19242/19]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The statistics the Deputy requires have been collated by the HSE who have a lead responsibility in the health assessment area. Applicants are invited for voluntary assessments but do not have to take up the offer of such assessments.
There is a specific health screening team funded and managed by the HSE located on the site of the Balseskin Reception facility for the purpose of assessing recipients who have just arrived in the State. The team comprises of two GPs on a rotational basis; an Area Medical Officer (also a GP); one nurse manager and two nurses; one whole time primary care social worker and two part-time primary care psychologists. This team offers a range of individual services and screening for medical and psychosocial needs with onward referral as necessary. The individual professionals communicate with RIA (within the bounds of patient confidentiality) if a particular need is identified that will affect the applicant’s accommodation requirements. Appropriate health care is provided as necessary.
In addition, arrangements are in place in various parts of the country to offer this service to those who do not avail of it in Dublin. Representations are made to RIA by health screening staff if the person is deemed vulnerable on medical or related grounds, which may include a request that particular steps be taken as regards that person’s accommodation in order to meet particular needs. Further there is on-going liaison between RIA and the HSE in relation to how best to meet the health and related needs of protection applicants.
The numbers of applicants who attended initial assessments in Balseskin Reception Centre in 2018 was 1371. A further 838 applicants availed of initial assessments in other locations. The number of applicants who attended initial assessments in Balseskin up to the end of March 2019 was 537 and 356 in other locations, up to April 2019.
Additionally, an initial interview is conducted with all applicants when they attend the International Protection Office, Mount Street. If at that interview an applicant indicates that they require accommodation, they will then be assessed for any specific needs, which are then taken into account when assigning accommodation.