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.”

 

Blatant disparity between treatment of service users and senior management at St John of God’s

imelda photo orangeSinn Féin TD for Louth/East Meath, Imelda Munster has again hit out at the HSE and management at St Mary’s in Drumcar, run by St John of God’s, for allowing a situation to develop where upwards of 51 families have been left without respite services for four weeks.

This was due to the HSE pressing St Mary’s at St John of Gods to accept an emergency patient, despite knowing St Mary’s Drumcar has no emergency beds in their service, and in the full knowledge that it would result in the cancellation of pre-booked respite beds for upwards of 51 families.

Deputy Munster said:

“I have serious concerns over the most recent revelations around secret top-up payments to senior staff at St John of God’s, and the fact that CEO John Pepper has employed five of his relatives, including his sons and wife, at the Drumcar campus.

“There have been further revelations reported about multiple payroll systems for senior management. The largest of these payments was over €600,000, which was paid to the Chief Executive”.

Munster also said it was “unbelievable that the HSE has said it was unaware of the revelations until recent weeks, given that St John of God’s is funded with public money by the HSE.”

“Has there been no oversight or no supervision by the HSE, and why did they allow it to go unchecked, and at the same time they were cutting services for vulnerable people?”

“It is outrageous that these families have been left high and dry without respite over the summer months, with cuts to services meaning that patients at their Daycare Centre are now expected to pay €5 a day for their lunch, and a 44 year man with intellectual disabilities is sent to a nursing home for respite”.

“The manner in which these respite services were cancelled, despite families having pre-booked them to coincide with their much-needed holidays can only be described as reckless. There seems to be a major disparity in how service-users and their families are treated, compared to how Mr Pepper and his family reap the benefits of the service through top-ups and jobs for the family.”

Government failing patients in OLOL Emergency department: Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has accused the government of “failing patients attending Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda”.

The Louth TD’s remarks follow the revelation by the INMO that an elderly patient has been on a trolley for five days and that several others are on their fourth day waiting for a bed.

Gerry Adams said: “This news will surprise no one. OLOL in Drogheda, despite the best efforts of staff and management, does not have the resources needed to cope with the health demands placed on it. Today there were 48 patients on trolleys – the highest number in the state.

There needs to be 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:

“In its monthly comparative survey the INMO last week found that Our Lady of Lourdes – at 680 – had the highest levels of overcrowding of any hospital in the state. At the same time there were 6518 admitted patients on trolleys – a 40% increase over the same period last year. This has been the consistent month on month pattern for the last 14 months; with July witnessing the highest ever level of overcrowding recorded.

The crisis in our emergency departments demands an emergency holistic response by government and the necessary resources, including funding and staff to ensure that patient care is not sacrificed to austerity.

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.

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.”