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Scandal of cutbacks for breast cancer survivors

- HSE plans changes to funding for patient bras, prostheses and wigs


Health minister Simon Harris Photo: Tom Burke

Health minister Simon Harris Photo: Tom Burke

Health minister Simon Harris Photo: Tom Burke

Thousands of breast cancer survivors who have had radical surgery face added financial hardship and stress following a HSE decision to cut vital supports.

The supply of post-mastectomy bras and prostheses is to be rationed in areas where the scheme is working well - in order to extend the service countrywide.

The new scheme also means changes to the provision of wigs or hairpieces to patients.

The unpopular changes were due to come into effect today but last night the HSE was forced to postpone the introduction for a month.

Under the new scheme women will now only be provided with an allowance of €68.50 for one breast prosthesis every two years. However, a prosthesis can cost between €110 and €200.

They will no longer be provided with surgical bras, other than those supplied when leaving hospital.

The HSE attempted to defend the overhaul, saying the new scheme will give every woman the same service countrywide and end the problem of some areas having no supports.

The new policy extends access on an ongoing basis to all women for post-mastectomy products. Previously these products were only accessible to medical card holders, the HSE said.

However, campaigners have criticised the proposals and want Health Minister Simon Harris to intervene.

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