Sunday 17 December 2017

HSE asks boy (5) to prove he 'hasn't grown a leg'

Sonia Breen, of Railway View, Roscrea, Co Tipperary with her son Kieran, who has a prosthetic leg
Sonia Breen, of Railway View, Roscrea, Co Tipperary with her son Kieran, who has a prosthetic leg

Anne-Marie Walsh

A mother has told how she must constantly "prove" to the HSE that her five-year-old son "hasn't grown a leg", so she can claim medical support.

Sonia Breen said it is "ridiculous" that her son Kieran, who has a prosthetic leg, has to undergo check-ups every 18 months in order to get an essential allowance.

She said there is also endless redtape before she can replace his false limbs, which need to be changed at least twice a year.

Kieran, from Roscrea in Tipperary, has a life-long congenital disability known as Hetrotaxy limb defect.

In addition to four holes in his heart, he had to have 60pc of his windpipe removed and also suffers from sleep apnoea and asthma.

His irate mother said she is obliged to notify the HSE regularly that her son is disabled.

She said he has to endure numerous check-ups because the health service refuses to accept her son's disability.

"There never seems to be money in the kitty for the parents of children with disabilities," she said.

"I had to wait weeks before I could get him a prosthetic limb on the medical card last year. I made him a promise that he could go to school and no one would laugh at him.

"I wanted the funding by 5pm that day but time passed by and it took three weeks.

"For the Domiciliary (Care Allowance), I have to take Kieran, every 18 months, to the health board doctor to prove that he actually hasn't grown a leg," she said.

"It's a joke. I have to prove that his circumstances haven't changed.

"For the medical card, I have to go up to the GP every year and get him to fill out the form basically saying that the circumstances have not changed and that he still needs a prosthetic leg.

Waste

"The GP knows it's ridiculous. It is a waste of his time and my time".

Ms Breen contacted the Brenda Power show on Newstalk yesterday, along with other parents who complained about HSE bureaucracy.

Another woman claimed she had to prove on a yearly basis that her son still had cerebral palsy.

The Domiciliary Care Allowance is a monthly means tested payment made to the carer of a child with a severe disability who lives at home.

In order to qualify, the child must have a severe disability that is likely to last for at least one year, be under 16, and live at home.

They must also show that they need substantially more constant care and attention than a child of the same age who does not have a disability.

Eligibility for the allowance is determined primarily by the degree of additional care and attention needed by the child, rather than the type of disability involved.

Medical assessment is carried out by a Senior Area Medical Officer in the HSE.

Since January 1 this year, the Domiciliary Care Allowance rate was €299.60 per month.

A HSE spokesperson said that the medical review was necessary.

"It's considered appropriate that an individual is examined periodically to ensure the allowance meets their needs," the spokeswoman added.

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