Thursday 20 June 2019

Liam sits Junior Cert from sickbed

For lack of a wheelchair, due to budget limits, Liam has been bed-bound for months, at a cost of €120,000

Bill Browne

A Mallow teenager who was hospitalised for four months at a cost of up to €120,000 to the State because of delays in the allocation of a wheelchair has defied the odds to start his Junior Certificate exams from home on Wednesday.

Liam Lynch (15) has been working with SNA's from Colaiste Mhuire in Buttevant over the last two weeks revising past papers in advance of his exams.

His mother, Grainne, is delighted that he is managing to undertake the exams after all of the upheavals and upset of being confined to bed in hospital.

"It is important for him in September that when all of his friends are opening their envelopes that he will be opening his as well. From yesterday on [he and the other teenagers] will be comparing papers and it is good that he is able to do that," said Grainne. 

She said that Liam had a scribe come to their Mallow home for the first exam on Wednesday. 

"He is fairly relaxed about the whole thing," said Grainne. 

Liam will be fitted for his new wheelchair when his bedsores, which require a specially moulded seat, heal up. For that to happen he needs to be able to sit out in an apparatus which will be moulded to his posture. Grainne said it was proving to be a long road to recovery.

"He needs to able to sit for two hours in the thing they use to mould. He can't do that at the minute. I can't see that happening before September. It is a long process. It has been unbelievably hard," she said.

"What really annoys me about the whole thing is that this could all have been avoided if there was adequate funding in the first place. It was totally avoidable which makes me cross. To put him through all of this because of budgets. I get that they have a process but they don't have enough funding. It has cost €120,000 to have him in hospital from January. The bed he is in at home is costing €55 a day plus VAT. It doesn't make sense."

 Grainne says the Playstation was a lifeline for Liam over the last few months and he has also received immense support from his loyal friends.

"The Playstation has saved his sanity. His friends have also been very good. Liam is a huge Avengers fan and one of the girls in his class organised for him to get an encrypted copy of the Avengers Endgame movie from Disney. He had the cinema experience with his friends and popcorn and the whole lot. It was fantastic. Things like that get him through," said Grainne.

Liam was admitted to Cork University Hospital on January 19 last with stage four bedsores he had developed after he grew out of his wheelchair. He missed his Junior Certificate mock exams and the chance to compete in the European power soccer championships. 

A wheelchair was belatedly sanctioned on January 29 and a member of the public also offered him the use of a power chair. Problems began to arise for Liam when he needed a new wheelchair last year.

In June of 2018 his mother started the paperwork but the chair never materialised as Liam wasn't deemed an immediate priority. 

Grainne said the funding that the HSE allocates for items such as wheelchairs is inadequate and needs to be increased as a matter of urgency.

In a previously issued statement, the HSE said that they sincerely regretted that the funding for this type of equipment was limited and did not meet demand.

"We regret that there can be a waiting period for equipment and this is due to the fact that demands on the budget and the available budget are very high," read the statement.

The HSE has said that in cases where there is an acute urgent need, approvals may be made within a very short timeframe. All applications for funding go through the Resource Allocation Group (Aids and Appliances). This comprises of a multidisciplinary group of health professionals, who assess applications based on clinical need. In general terms, even when an application is approved there can be a lead-in time before manufacturers can deliver an order.

A Go Fund Me page is in operation in relation to Liam's ongoing medical expenses and donations can be made at