Sunday 20 August 2017

'Is my child's life not worth more than €600?' - councillor

Ann Norton with her daughter Nicole. Photograph by John Kelly.
Ann Norton with her daughter Nicole. Photograph by John Kelly.

Dan Danaher

Councillor Ann Norton has questioned whether the HSE believes the life of her daughter is "worth more than €600" following a decision to withdraw vital funding.

Nicole Norton (19), who suffers from cerebral palsy, requires intrathecal baclofen therapy (IBT) to prevent her from going into possible spasm, internal organ and heart failure.

Councillor Norton was recently informed that the HSE was no longer willing to cover the cost of refilling this pump because it was too expensive.

It costs about €600 to provide medication for the pump every five or six weeks.

Ms Norton said she was told the medication for the pump "was not being released from the pharmacy due to the cost.

"I was shocked, so upset and distraught," she said.

"I felt sick in my stomach that the HSE would put Nicole's life at risk for the sake of €600."

The Councillor told the 'Clare Champion' that she made numerous calls to other hospital health professionals and was told by one staff member that the failure to refill the pump was due to "miscommunication".

However, when Councillor Norton went to University Hospital Limerick to have the pump refilled two days after receiving the phone call about the threatened withdrawal, she was informed that the decision had been confirmed and it was "down to money".

Councillor Norton said she was shocked as she doesn't believe her daughter or anyone suffering from cerebral palsy should be placed in an invidious position where effectively a price is put on their life.

Describing her experience as "disturbing" and "unacceptable", she has requested the HSE to provide her with a commitment that no patient using this pump will encounter similar difficulties with ongoing life-saving treatment.

She provided the HSE and the 'Clare Champion' with a signed letter waiving her patient confidentiality.

A UL Hospitals' spokeswoman said "for reasons of patient confidentiality we cannot comment on individual patient cases".

Irish Independent

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