Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Health
Hospital Appointments Administration
362. To ask the Minister for Health if persons with haemochromatosis can be treated in outpatient departments when suitable in order to save the €80 charge being imposed on persons when they must attend as inpatients for venesection to reduce the iron overload in their blood; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51783/17]
The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides that all people ordinarily resident in the country are entitled, subject to certain charges, to public in-patient hospital services including consultant services and to public out-patient hospital services. Under the Health (In-Patients Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 2008, a person who has been referred to a hospital for an in-patient service, including that provided on a day case basis, will have to pay the statutory daily charge, currently €80 per day, up to a maximum of €800 per year. On this basis, where venesection is classed as a day case procedure and is not carried out in an out patient setting, the public in-patient charge applies.
The Deputy may be aware of the ongoing review of the GMS and other publicly funded contracts involving GPs, and that the next phase of discussions to progress this work is underway. I expect that the issue of venesection services for patients with haemochromatosis will be considered in the context of the overall GP contract review process.
It should be noted that the Irish Blood Transfusion (IBTS) has been running a haemochromatosis clinic in the Stillorgan Blood Donation Clinic since 2007 and sees approximately 600 patients annually who are eligible to donate blood. In 2013 and 2014, the IBTS also commenced provision of a programme for hereditary haemochromatosis patients in their D'Olier Street and St. Finbar's Hospital (Co. Cork) clinics, respectively. These clinics provide venesection at no cost to the patient with a prescription from their treating clinician. The venesection is performed, regardless of whether the patient wanted to have their unit converted to a blood donation.
In response to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.