Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Department of Health
Medical Card Drugs Availability
408. To ask the Minister for Health further to the refusal by the HSE to provide a person diagnosed with narcolepsy after receiving the pandemrix vaccine (details supplied) with a medical card, his views on whether it is appropriate that the HSE is refusing to accept a diagnosis of narcolepsy from an English hospital and is requesting that the person be diagnosed at enormous cost by one of two private Irish medical practitioners who do not hold public clinics; and the steps he will take to remedy this situation [42210/17]
The Department of Health, the HSE and the Department of Education and Skills continue to work together to provide a wide range of services and supports for those affected. The HSE's Advocacy Unit acts as liaison with service and support providers and other Government Departments to facilitate access to required services. It is in regular contact with individuals affected. Regional co-ordinators have been appointed to assist individuals by providing advice, information and access to local services.
The ex-gratia health supports include clinical care pathways to ensure access to rapid diagnosis and treatment, multi-disciplinary assessments led by clinical experts, counselling services for both the individuals and their families, discretionary medical cards for those who have been diagnosed have been provided to allow unlimited access to GP care and any prescribed medication, physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessments. Diagnosis of narcolepsy involves a specialised sleep study system which is currently only available in the Mater Private. It is intended that diagnoses will be carried out in the planned Centre of Excellence for Narcolepsy in St James Hospital which has been prioritised by my Department in the 2018 Estimates process. This service will combine a new patient referral system with access to expert consultant and advanced nursing expertise for clinical diagnosis, access to the latest neurophysiological diagnostic techniques with overnight and daytime monitoring for both in-patients and outpatients, laboratory testing, brain imaging and genetic testing. The HSE will continue to pay for access to the services, such as dietician and psychology services, that would have been provided in the Centre of Excellence from private providers to so that none of the affected individuals miss out on receiving these supports.
The Deputy has raised a query regarding an individual case. The HSE has responsibility for the administration of treatment and delivery of services in this case. The matter has therefore been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.