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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Now health cuts hit artificial limbs

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

HUNDREDS of disabled medical-card holders in need of artificial limbs and foot-support devices are the latest victims of health cuts, it emerged yesterday.

The support service, which affects scores of people with a disability, has been shelved by the HSE in Galway, leaving some people with conditions like diabetes at risk of amputation.

The service, which provides orthotics (support devices) and prosthetics (artificial limbs), has been axed for medical-card holders in the county.

In a letter to APOS Ltd, a Galway-based company contracted to provide the service for the HSE, Pat Commins, general manager of Galway University Hospitals, said: "Unfortunately due to budgetary constraints I am not longer in a position to fund orthotics in respect of any patient, other than in-patients in this hospital."

He said he hoped to put in place a review process that would allow a "small percentage of urgent special-needs clients" to receive the supports.

Commenting on the ban, which has been in place for a number of months, Breda Clancy, managing director of APOS, told the Irish Independent that the absence of these supports and limbs could result in some diabetes sufferers undergoing unnecessary amputation. She said that without the proper support children with cerebal palsy may end up in a wheelchair and, if deformities progress, need surgery.

A very small number of extreme cases have been catered for in recent months, but the majority are without a service.

George Kennedy, chief executive of the National Association for Spina Bifida, warned that if people with the condition did not have the right support or footwear, they could develop complications.

Questioned on the measure the HSE West said: "The process for the provision of orthotic services in Galway is under review in the context of current financial constraints."

Irish Independent

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