Imelda Munster: HSE Personnel Should Decide, Not Computers

Call for local frontline HSE staff to make exceptional circumstances decisions over inhuman computer generated figures

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and Meath East Imelda Munster has criticised the HSE for its uneconomical method of withdrawing medical cards from people who are seriously ill. The HSE uses computer generated figures, without an iota of compassion or common sense.

Deputy Munster said:

‘I have been contacted by many seriously ill constituents recently, who are distraught that their Medical Card has been withdrawn because their income is marginally over the limit allowed. The Primary Care Reimbursement Services (PCRS) system, which operates on computer generated figures, needs to loosen up and bring a bit of human compassion back into its reckoning.”

“They are dealing with people not machines, and all too often the people who contact me about this issue are suffering from serious or life threatening illnesses. The additional anxiety and stress that they have to endure because of this heartless system just compounds their health issues.”

“When they lose their GMS medical card and find that they can’t pay for the prescriptions that they depend on, even within the Drugs Payment Scheme, people have no option other than to endanger their lives by doing without essential medicines and hospital appointments.”

“Amongst others I have been contacted by a man who can’t afford his heart medication and I have seen a number of people with asthma and COPD lung disease who can’t afford to get their inhalers. Another lady who has suffered multiple aneurysms and has high blood pressure has had her card cancelled and is going without important medication.”

“The ridiculous part of this is that it doesn’t even make economic sense. The Department of Health still has to pay for anything in excess of €134 at retail prices under the Drugs Payment Scheme rather than at cost price under the General Medical Services.”

“I have written to the Minister for Health requesting that local frontline HSE staff who are in a position to advise regarding exceptional circumstances be brought back into the decision making process on these cases.”

“By making sick people even sicker this government shows a complete lack of compassion for those who need some breathing space as they navigate acute episodes of care.”

Adams and Ó Murchú Attend Louth Respite Forum

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams and Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú have met with HSE management and families of those with intellectual disabilities to discuss the respite needs of families in County Louth.

The meeting of Louth Respite Forum, which took place on Friday 27th April in Ardee, is the latest in a series of engagements regarding the lack of adequate respite provision.

Following the meeting Gerry Adams said,

“Respite is essential for families caring for loved ones with intellectual disabilities.  These families love their children, that is absolutely without doubt.  They care for them diligently their whole lives, but everybody needs a break.

“In order for these parents to provide this intensive level of care into the future, the Government needs to support them through the provision of respite.  I have met with the Minister for Disability Finian McGrath on many occasions and raised the shocking gaps in provision of respite in Louth.

“I welcomed the Minister’s announcement in December 2017 that additional funding would be made available to the HSE in Louth and I am pleased to see the outworking of this with the recent opening of Bower House in Balbriggan which will provide respite for young adults.

“Although welcome we still have many citizens who are not able to access appropriate respite in Louth.  Older people with intellectual disabilities who live with their elderly parents are in desperate need of a proper respite service.  Dundalk Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled have long made the case for their loved ones who are being treated shamefully at the moment.

“I also welcome the news that the HSE will address this with a new premises in Dundalk which will be operative in the Autumn and I look forward to the delivery of this service.

“I also pressed the HSE on the issue of emergency respite, the lack of which led to the complete cessation of summer respite in 2016.  I received confirmation that the HSE are looking at realistic options in the event of an emergency which would not affect the respite of other citizens.

Councillor Ó Murchú added,

“Louth Respite Forum is a very useful platform for engagement between citizens, politicians and service providers.  There is no doubt that there are gaps in provision in Louth, however this forum enables families to hold politicians to account and to put their queries directly to the HSE.”

Tomás Sharkey: No Urgency to Provide Services

Councillor Tomás Sharkey is exacerbated at the lack of progress in providing a second Primary Care Centre in Dundalk.

Cllr Sharkey said “Primary Care Centres are locations where many health professionals are available in the one location. In Dundalk we have one on the Alphonsus Road but we were promised one by former TD and Minister Dermot Ahern and also by Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick.

“I raised the issue once again with the HSE and the response indicates that we are in the same position as we were under the last Fianna Fáil government years ago.

“The response I received from the HSE indicates that there is no political commitment to the health of Dundalk people and certainly no urgency to provide important services.

“It is time for accountability on this matter. It is time for Deputy Fitzpatrick to deliver or get off the can.

Imelda Munster Outraged at Exorbitant Charge on Patients with Haemochromatosis

Imelda Munster TD is outraged at recent HSE correspondence to haemochromatosis patients who attend the venesection clinic in Louth advising that from 1st September 2017 a charge of €80 per visit would begin with a maximum charge of €800 annually.

The Sinn Féin TD said: “Whilst medical card holders are exempt from this levy, it puts an unfair burden on people who have been diagnosed with this condition. The financial means of these patients are not taken into account, though they may be just over the limit required for access to a medical card”.

Imelda Munster explained that “Haemochromatosis is a life-long chronic illness and patients need regular venesections (the taking of blood) to keep their iron levels in check and to remain healthy.

“This charge of up to €800 a year could well prevent people from attending the venesection clinic which in turn will lead to patients potentially suffering from cirrhosis of the liver due to the build-up of iron, and other serious health problems.

“Given that this is a life-long chronic illness, it needs to be designated under the Long-Term Illness scheme. The health system doesn’t take into account a person’s ability to pay. The income thresholds for qualifying for a medical card are relatively low, and for people who sit just above that limit, this is an unfair and exorbitant charge.

“I have written to the Minister asking him to include haemochromatosis on the Long-Term Illness scheme so that people who require this ongoing treatment are not deterred from accessing it due to financial hardship. I hope that the Minister realises that this is an equality of access issue, and that the current situation is not fair for patients who are struggling to pay for this necessary treatment.”

 

HSE mismanagement and unaccountability to blame as Medical Assessment Unit is shut down frequently – Imelda Munster TD

Louth Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to explain why the Medical Assessment Unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is closed on a frequent basis, given that the MAU was opened in the first instance to alleviate the overcrowded Emergency Department.

Deputy Munster said:

“We are stuck in the crazy situation where senior management at the hospital are closing the MAU regularly and sending patients back to the Emergency Department because they say the hospital is very busy. Just recently, the emergency department had to deal with the unprecedented number of 217 patients on one day, while the MAU was closed down by management.

“I contacted the HSE by email four times over four days last week to enquire about the closure of the MAU and they failed to respond. This raises even more questions, including the fact that the HSE are charged with delivery of our public health service and yet they appear to be a law unto themselves and chose to ignore queries from elected public representatives.

“Is it because they do not want the public to know the serious levels of mismanagement within our hospitals? Are they attempting to cover up such gross mismanagement? The Minister needs to hold the HSE to account, as to why they opened a Medical Assessment Unit at Our Lady of Lourdes due to the Emergency Department being so busy, and yet they regularly close it down because it is so busy and so they send patients back to the overcrowded and under staffed ED.

“The Minister also needs to enquire as to who is directly responsible for making the decision not to respond to queries from elected public representatives and the total lack of accountability with the HSE.”