Mums-to-be not entitled to equipment for diabetes
Although the numbers of pregnant women who are suffering gestational diabetes is on the rise, they are not entitled to free medical equipment to monitor their blood sugar levels under the Maternity and Infant Scheme.
The Department of Health pointed out that the Maternity and Infant Scheme provides that all pregnant women have a schedule of free visits to their GP – six visits for first pregnancies and seven for subsequent pregnancies.
In addition, there is provision for an extra five consultations where a condition related to pregnancy such as gestational diabetes occurs. The scheme also provides for a two-week baby check and a six-week mother and infant check.
The scheme does not provide cover for medical equipment. However, patients with medical cards have associated medications covered and glucose monitoring equipment (glucometers) is made available through hospital diabetic clinics for all expectant mothers suffering from gestational diabetes.
Where the expectant mother does not hold a medical card, the strips (to be used in conjunction with the glucometer) have to be paid for by the patient (approximate cost of €44 for pack of 50).
The spokesman said that for non-medical card holders "the drug payment scheme provides that no individual or family pays more than €144 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines and appliances".
Gestational diabetes can be kept at bay with diet and exercise. However, some will need medication to control blood glucose levels. If gestational diabetes is not detected and controlled, it can increase the risk of birth complications, such as babies being large for their gestational age.