Little Sean gets just four nappies a day because of cutbacks
Published 09/10/2011 | 05:00
A MOTHER has described how she has been ordered to limit her young son, who has special needs, to four nappies a day.
Four-year-old Sean, who has Down syndrome and autism, is facing a limited nappy supply because of cutbacks.
Up to the age of three, children with special needs are entitled to free nappies from the Health Service Executive (HSE).
However, due to recent measures, parents are being informed that their children with special needs, who are over the age of three, are only entitled to a limited supply.
Now Patricia May and her husband Peter, from Walkinstown, Dublin, have labelled the latest cutbacks as "inhumane" and are calling on the HSE to reverse the decision.
"We're talking about the most vulnerable people in society here. It's like something you'd hear about in an orphanage in Russia or Romania," she said.
Ms May explained: "On August 29 it was a month since we got any nappies so I rang the HSE to enquire about the problem.
"I was shocked with the response I got -- they asked me why I was using the nappies so quickly."
Ms May, who has three other children, Roisin, 8, Aidan, 3, and Liam, 1, said: "I've never once used the nappies for my younger children. I couldn't anyway -- the three-year-old is potty trained and the one-year-old is too small for them.
"But because Sean has some quite complex difficulties he still needs to wear the pull-up pants."
She continued: "I was told that a memorandum was circulated to HSE staff last month which said that each special needs child over the age of three is only entitled to four nappies a day.
"I explained that Sean also has been suffering from chronic thrush and on the paediatrician's advice we have to change them frequently.
"But their response was 'well why don't you just leave the nappies off him?'
"It's crazy. The medication that he's taking makes him have frequent dirty nappies. That's unhygienic for him and our other children.
"He's non-verbal so he can't tell us when he needs a nappy change. He can't tell us when he is in pain, let alone when he needs to go to the toilet.
"It's shameful the way he and other children like Sean are being treated. We feel that the HSE feels that our child is not worth more than four nappies a day.
"As Sean's mother I'm not taking that. It's a basic human right.
"Some pen pusher within the HSE has made a decision that they need to make cutbacks and the most vulnerable have been affected. It's not right.
"I feel like I'm begging for a couple of nappies for my child. Myself and Peter cried the other day. We were so upset by the way he is being treated."
The couple have contacted An Taoiseach Enda Kenny's office and Health Minister James Reilly's office and both have yet to respond.