Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has called on the Health Service Executive to change how it administers the Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS) because it is too complex and difficult for patients to access.

The Ombudsman's investigation into the administration of the scheme by the Health Service Executive was prompted by 19 complaints.

Amy Foley, 30, from Midleton in Co Cork experienced frustrations when applying for the scheme.

After complaining to the Ombudsman, the HSE paid for her specialist treatment in London retrospectively with no admission of liability.

Ms Foley has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a group of disorders that affects connective tissues supporting skin, bones, blood vessels, and other organs and tissues.

She said: "My experience with the Treatment Abroad Scheme I can only sum up as being traumatic.

"To have to fight against administration to get the treatment you need ... it's just heartbreaking."

She said the application process for the Treatment Abroad Scheme was traumatic for her.

Karen Brennan from Galway was another of the complainants.

She said she was "very frustrated. Very let down. I think that with regard to process and systems that it is not really about taking care of people. It's not working. It's not a consistent process".

She was diagnosed with lymphedema after receiving cancer treatment. Lymphedema is a condition of localised fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system.

Ms Brennan was told she was not eligible for TAS as the treatment she was seeking was available in Ireland.

The TAS provides funding to allow Irish public patients get healthcare in other EU countries, the European Economic Area or Switzerland that is not available here.

The decision on Ms Brennan's case came despite her getting funding for two previous trips under the TAS from the HSE.

Ms Brennan complained to the Ombudsman who discovered the treatment she needed was not available in Ireland, meaning she was entitled to the medical treatment she needed in Germany.

In the end, she received the treatment but for future treatments she still has to go through the same application process.

She discusses her story here:

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