Monday 25 September 2017

Breast cancer survivors fear HSE will downgrade their supports

Valerie Murphy, who runs Valerie’s Breast Care, at her premises in Limerick, holding a mastectomy bra. Photo: Liam Burke Press 22
Valerie Murphy, who runs Valerie’s Breast Care, at her premises in Limerick, holding a mastectomy bra. Photo: Liam Burke Press 22
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A group of women who have undergone breast cancer surgery and fear the HSE will introduce a "yellow-pack" scheme of supports is seeking a meeting with Health Minister Simon Harris.

Valerie Murphy, who supplies prostheses and post mastectomy bras to women who have had breast cancer surgery in the mid west, said she has a petition of 1,200 signatures calling for no cuts in HSE supports.

Ms Murphy, who runs Valerie's Breast Care, in Limerick, said there continues to be major confusion and mixed messages about the future of the scheme.

It emerged last week that the HSE would no longer provide post mastectomy patients with surgical bras, other than those supplied when leaving the hospital.

They would just get an allowance of €68.50 for a prosthesis.

This has now been halted and a new scheme is promised in August.

Ms Murphy said yesterday: "We are seeking a meeting with the minister about this."

She said she had already told him in an email: "It will cost the Government a whole lot more if women have to be sent to the hospital in taxis or have a nurse visit.

"The hospitals are overcrowded as it is. Mastectomy fitters are specially trained to do this job. If a woman is not properly fitted then it can result in back pain, neck pain and shoulder drop."

The minister said yesterday that he had already made it clear he did not want to see any woman get a reduced service and he has asked the HSE to look at an enhanced scheme.

He said he would meet the group of women once the new scheme had been devised. HSE chief Tony O'Brien said he was unaware that a decision had been made to cut the supports.

It was the "wrong direction" to take. "It is an example of a system that did not follow the right path," he conceded.

Irish Independent

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