independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Mum 'incensed' as medical card taken off Down Syndrome child

Karen North with her daughter Eve, who has had her medical card axed
Karen North with her daughter Eve, who has had her medical card axed

A devoted mum has told how her 12-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome has had her full medical card axed.

Karen North (48) from Bettystown, Co Meath, said that she was informed her daughter Eve's medical card was being replaced with a GP visit card just last month.

Mum-of-three Karen said that while GP visits will be covered, the family will now have to pay for items that were traditionally covered, including Eve's glasses, the orthodontic treatment that she is facing into and the special orthopaedic shoes she requires.

She will also now have to pay out for any medicines that Eve may need.

FUTURE

"Potentially, it could easily cost me thousands a year. And there are so many cases of kids around the country in the same boat," she said.

The full medical card was issued on a discretionary basis and Eve had it since she was a baby -- Karen had to submit a medical certificate to confirm her diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

Karen told the Herald that she was "incensed" at the decision to take away Eve's medical card, following a review.

"Having a chid with a disability was always recognised. You got that comfort that medical care would be covered, and her disability was recognised in that way by the system.

"Looking to the future, you assumed that she would always have that care."

She said the Government is is targeting vulnerable people with cuts.

Down Syndrome Ireland said it has heard of almost 100 children who have had their discretionary cards withdrawn in the last 12 months -- but believes at least double this number could be affected. It has launched a campaign to stop the "cruel" withdrawal of discretionary medical cards from children.

A flash survey conducted by the charity this week has revealed almost 100 children have had their discretionary medical cards withdrawn despite the manifold, co-existing conditions that children with Down Syndrome suffer from.

About half of all people with Down Syndrome are born with a heart defect while gastrointestinal conditions are also commonly associated with Down Syndrome as are certain types of cancer, hearing loss, cervical spine instability and visual impairment.

Most children with Down Syndrome attend weekly speech and language therapy sessions, the cost of which doubles with the loss of medical cards. Weekly occupational therapy sessions also cost in the region of ¿50.

Chief executive officer of Down Syndrome Ireland, Pat Clarke, said: "This is causing untold misery and hardship.

"We are hearing about many cases of children who are profoundly deaf, have serious medical needs, and require substantial daily care, having their medical card revoked."

fdillon@herald.ie

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