Munster calls on Taoiseach to reverse cruel withdrawal of Versatis (Lidocaine) painrelief patches
Speaking in the Dáil this week Sinn Féin TD for Louth Imelda Munster urged the Taoiseach to reverse the blatant cost cutting exercise of restricting access to the pain relief patches Versatis(Lidocaine) for people who are suffering from severe and chronic pain.
Deputy Munster said:
“According to the Chairman of the National Association of General Practitioners the system introduced by the Government has seen 86% of GP applications for the drug on behalf of their patients turned down.
“These patches are a lifeline for patients who are in chronic pain to ensure some sort of quality of life. Many who cannot afford to buy the patches suffer daily and are confined to their their homes as a result.
“One such patient in my own constituency who is almost doubled over such is the severity of his pain, has said he is regularly housebound because he cannot pay for the patches and that he no longer has any quality of life.
“General Practitioners have stated that the Taoiseach’s claim that the ‘withdrawal was based on patient safety’ is utter nonsense and I have called on him to listen to the medical professionals and patients and reverse this callous cost cutting exercise.”
It is clear that this decision was made as a cost cutting exercise taking no account whatsoever of the effect this would have on the quality of life for people who suffer daily with chronic pain.
Deputy Munster said:
I have also written to the Minister for Health asking him to reverse this cruel cost saving measure.
Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has described the fact that the Minister for Health has not yet produced a Winter Initiative for 2018/19 as ‘ominous’.
Deputy Adams said;
“It is clear that many years of underinvestment in frontline health services and staff have resulted in what can only be described as a permanent state of crisis in our healthcare system.
“In our hospitals, which provide acute care to the most vulnerable people, we witnessed record levels of overcrowding during the summer due to a shortage of beds and inadequate care availability in the community.
“Relentless pressure on staff has led to a crisis in the recruitment and retention of nurses.
“Just yesterday nursing and midwifery delegates belonging to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association voted to reject government proposals which do not sufficiently deal with the issue of pay, setting the scene for industrial action.
“The Minister is well aware that the winter presents increased challenges to Emergency Departments, yet in a reply to a parliamentary question which I tabled earlier this month, he admits that preparations have only begun at hospital and local level.
“In 2016 the Winter Initiative was published on 9th September. But this year Minister Harris has confirmed that he has not yet even met with all of the chairpersons of the hospital groups.
“Coupled with the ominous absence of a winter initiative, there are currently 169 staff vacancies across Emergency Departments.
“The Minister has informed me that he has filled these vacancies through the use of expensive agency staff and overtime arrangements – this is not acceptable and it is not sustainable.
“The Minister has been in situ for over two years, he must step up to the mark to ensure safe levels of care in our hospitals this coming winter.”
The long-promised reduction in the age of patients cared for at the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at the Louth County Hospital has been delayed yet again, according to Councillor Anne Campbell.
The Sinn Féin Councillor has revealed that “it could now be as late as the end of September before the MIU will be in a position to drop the age limit from its current 14 years to five.”
The news came after Cllr. Campbell asked a question about the facility at the Regional Health Forum meeting in Kells on Monday.
She said: “Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams, along with Cllr. Tomás Sharkey, and I have been consistently asking when the MIU will drop the age limit after it was announced by Health Minister Simon Harris as far back as February last year.
“In November, when the Fine Gael leadership was in Louth, it was announced with a great fanfare that this would happen in the first quarter of 2018 but when that deadline passed, both Gerry Adams and I continued to ask when it would happen.
“We were subsequently told in March that the plan was to have the reduction in place by the end of June, but following my question to the RSCI Hospital Group, who run the Louth County, it has been revealed that it could be as late as September this year.
“This is a dreadful state of affairs for parents in the area, like myself, who have children under the current 14 years limit. Dozens and dozens are faced with travelling to Drogheda again this summer, despite the promises from Minister Harris and the Fine Gael party. Apart from anything else, lowering the age limit would alleviate the pressure on Drogheda hospital which is already overloaded and at breaking point.
“We will continue to press for the earliest possible introduction of this service and I intend to raise it once more at the next health forum meeting in July, where I will be asking what exactly the RCSI has been doing for the past 16 months to put this important measure in place. I Hope Minister Harris didn’t think he would make a grand announcement to grab a positive headline and then people would forget about it, because I can assure him, I am not letting this go. I will continue to pursue this until such times that 5 year old can be treated at the MIU in Louth Hospital.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has today called on the Minister for Transport to ensure that damage caused to roads during Storm Emma is quantified and a plan, including details of additional funding, is put in place to allow for the repair of damaged roads in the very near future.
Deputy Munster said:
“There has been widespread damage caused to roads due to snow and ice in the past week. The extent of this damage will become clearer in the coming days and weeks, but it is important that the Department of Transport has assessed the road network, and has made provision for all required repairs and maintenance.”
“It is important that the Department has a plan for assessing the damage to transport infrastructure, and I would like to hear detail on plans to carry out repairs including how they will be funded.”
“The Department of Transport and the Department of Housing, Local Authorities and the TII are all on the same page in this regard. “
“After a very difficult week for most people during Storm Emma, the Department must ensure that roads are brought back to a decent condition to ensure that the legacy of Storm Emma does not drag on for months or even years, as has unfortunately been the case after previous extreme weather events.”
“The Department has a very poor record indeed on this, and I am sure that we are all aware by this stage that our roads have been significantly underfunded for the past decade.”
“I am calling on the Minister to review the funding situation for our roads, both this year, in the aftermath of the storm, and in the coming few years to bring funding to the required level to ensure the viability and safety of the network.”