Friday 17 November 2017

Medical costs case of Irishman ill in Germany goes to European Court of Justice

Aodhan O' Faolain

A LEGAL dispute over an Irishman's entitlement to ongoing medical treatment in Germany for a rare illness has been referred to the European Court of Justice.

Former TV executive, Paul Flood (56), has been receiving treatment in Germany since  he fell ill while on holiday there in 2002 with a rare genetic condition affecting the brain stem which left him quadriplegic and without motor function.


In November 2011, the HSE said it was cutting his funding, a move which Mr Flood has challenged in the High Court.


Mr Flood, with addresses at Rivercourt, Camac Close,  Dublin, and Lippestrasse, Dusseldorf, Germany, was rushed to hospital while visiting his girlfriend in Germany in 2002. Since then has received medical treatment which had been fully paid for by the HSE.


In late 2011, he was informed by the HSE the funding was to be cut by 83 per cent and he would receive €2,500 over a three month period towards his medical costs.  He says the cost of the services in Germany, which allow him to live semi-independently, is €60,000-€75,000 per year.


The HSE, which opposed his action, said  it was willing to cover Mr Flood's healthcare costs until the matter is resolved. It argued that because Mr Flood he has been in Germany for so long he is resident there and the cost of his care should be provided by the German authorities.


Today, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said the case raised an issue that had not been previously considered by the  European Court of Justice

(ECJ) in Luxembourg.


He said he was therefore staying Mr Flood's High Court action until a question arising out of the case has been determined by the ECJ.


Mr Flood's case, the Judge said, "cannot be equated with the situation of someone who becomes ill while visiting another EU state," and "that of the patient who elects to seek treatment abroad due to the absence of suitable healthcare in their country of origin."


Mr Flood wants orders requiring the HSE to provide funding to the relevant German authority for medical services and therapy.


He claims the HSE had provided no rationale for the decision and doctors in Germany were concerned that he was not covered in the event of an emergency.


He claims the HSE's actions breach his rights to fair procedures and are irrational unreasonable and disproportionate.


Under EU law, the HSE is prohibited from limiting funding for medical treatment in another EU state, he also claims.

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