Ombudsman overturns HSE decision that saw child's medical funding withdrawnWednesday 21 August 2013 17.58
The Ombudsman for Children has rejected as unfair and unsound a HSE decision to withdraw discretionary funding from a child, who is undergoing an extensive series of operations in the US.
In response, the HSE has followed Emily Logan's recommendation to abide by the commitment to pay 70% of the child's and its parents' travel and subsistence costs.
The dispute was brought to the Ombudsman over two years ago by the parents of a seven-year-old child, who has acute limb abnormalities, some of which are being treated in the US.
The family complained that the HSE was no longer honouring a written commitment made two years earlier to pay 70% of travel and subsistence costs for the parents and child while the child is receiving limb-lengthening treatment.
The treatment entails several operations over a number of years, involving extended stays of approximately four months at a time.
The HSE responded that the original application was approved in line with the then policy, but that the letter issued to the family was not authorised and that it must be allowed to correct administrative errors.
But the Ombudsman found that sufficient steps were taken to process the application, which was approved by senior personnel with provisos such as a means test.
The Ombudsman said withdrawing the funding in the middle of the treatment programme would halt it, as the parents say they cannot afford to remain with the child after the operations.
The HSE has followed her recommendation to abide by its original commitment.
An advocacy group for the disability sector has said it is unacceptable that people with disabilities have to go to the Ombudsman for Children to fight for services they are entitled to.
Disability Federation of Ireland's chief executive John Dolan said people with disabilities have been greatly affected by cuts in the health service over the past number of years.
The current case is yet another that highlights the issue, he said.
In a statement to RTÉ News, Mr Dolan said that after five years of austerity, health services are at a stage where there is not the capacity or the funding to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
He urged the Government to ensure that the HSE can meet those needs.