16 November 2021
By Mary Bermingham
Children awaiting medical equipment are discriminated against – says Government TD
It is wrong and discriminatory that children face waiting times of up to a year for access to wheelchairs and other medical equipment while no waiting times exist in other parts of the country, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Cork North Central Deputy Colm Burke has asked the HSE to reallocate funding to ensure no child with a disability or additional need has to face a long wait for a wheelchair and equipment that they so vitally need.
Deputy Burke said: “This matter was brought to my attention by a family who faced a long delay in accessing medical equipment for their child after an assessment and approval by a HSE community team in Cork.
“I asked the HSE for an update regarding the supply of wheelchairs and other medical devices for children in the HSE community catchment areas 4 (Cork-Kerry) and 5 (Carlow-Kilkenny-South Tipperary-Waterford-Wexford).
“It was subsequently confirmed to me by the HSE that in area 5 (Carlow-Kilkenny-South Tipperary-Waterford-Wexford), there is no waiting list for equipment funding at present. Once approved by the Resource Allocation Group for that area, the order is immediately placed.
“However, in Cork and Kerry area, children may have to be on a waiting list for up to 11 months for essential medical equipment such as wheelchairs and other medical devices.
“In a reply to my Parliamentary Question, it has been confirmed to me that there are five children waiting for wheelchairs and a further five waiting for other medical devices.
‘’The HSE said it regrets the fact that there can be a waiting time for important equipment such as wheelchairs. In some cases, this is due to circumstances beyond their control, such as long lead times when ordering from manufacturers.
“This, in my view, amounts to discrimination and it shouldn’t depend on where a child lives for them to be able to access much-needed mobility aids which could drastically improve their quality of life.
“It has been indicated to me that there are as many as 18 children currently on the waiting list for medical devices in Cork and Kerry. The HSE should now clarify the current position and what action they intend to take to rectify this matter.
“I believe the HSE must allocate funding to provide equipment to these children as a matter of urgency, as it would seem that the funding is available and must be spent by the end of the financial year.”