Concern for welfare of patients on waiting lists

Opinion: TD brothers Michael and Danny Healy-Rae have arranged for dozens of patients from Kerry, on long-time waiting lists for medical procedures here, to travel to Belfast where treatment is readily available. And although the patients must pay in advance, they can claim most if not all of the costs back from the HSE. Now, however, because of Brexit, the Cross Border Directive that facilitates access to the medical procedures is in danger of being scrapped and, Deputy Michael Healy-Rae writes, it is giving cause for concern

AS many people are aware, I am continually taking people to Belfast to have medical procedures carried out. Some have cataracts removed, others have total hip and knee replacements and more have tonsillectomy surgery under the Cross Border Directive.

The big worry that I have at present is that if people are even thinking about going to the north and availing of this service, they need to act now as with Brexit looming, and if there is a crash out of the EU, without a proper deal in place, the Cross Border Directive will collapse.

This service will no longer be available to people and they will have to travel to somewhere else in the EU, such as France for treatment.

Total knee replacements (pictured0 and hip replacements are being facilitated in Kingsbridge Hospital, Belfast

I am ashamed of the fact that people have to travel to the north to avail of this service in the first place, but if the waiting list here is so long then, in many cases, people would go blind waiting to have cataracts removed. They are faced with no other choice.

The service itself is very good and the major bulk of the money is refunded to each patient from the HSE once they are home after the procedure.

A person who recently travelled up to have a total hip replacement operation in Kingsbridge Hospital told me that their local bank in Killorglin sanctioned a loan to cover the cost of the procedure and they will get most of it back from the HSE which will cover the loan.

The patient said had they not undergone surgery they would have soon required a wheelchair as the pain had been unbearable but they are now getting stronger by the hour.

On Friday, February 8, I will organise another a trip to Belfast again but this time we are taking a mixed group of patients travelling for cataract removal and hip or knee consultations and, for anyone over 14 years of age, consultation for tonsil problems. I am very concerned, however, that the end of March is fast approaching and the Cross Border Directive will be no more.


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