The father of a baby with a rare genetic disorder has hit out at the health system after being forced to travel to a hospital in Northern Ireland on Christmas Day to get a special feeding tube and syringe.
On December 21, Adam Doyle from Knockbridge, Louth, ran out of tubes and syringes needed to feed his 11-month-old baby Noah.
Noah has a genetic condition which has left him with congenital heart disease, severe scoliosis, narrow air and food ways, kidney defects and he has significant physical and intellectual developmental delays.
As well as being tube-fed, Noah has a list of conditions which will require ongoing care for the rest of his life.
Adam and his wife, Rosemarie, are angry at the system for not recognising that children like Noah should be automatically entitled to a medical card on the grounds of their medical needs.
Despite letters from consultants accompanying their application for a medical card, the couple still had to spend weeks providing all the documentation needed. Then, just four days before Christmas, they ran out of the equipment needed to feed Noah.
"Our local health nurses were no longer able to provide them without a medical card," he explained.
The family re-used feeding tubes but could only do that for a few days.
"On Christmas Day, I had to travel to a hospital in Northern Ireland and appeal to them directly to get some additional supplies so as to keep him from being admitted to hospital over his first Christmas."
Adam took to social media to post a hard-hitting message to health minister Leo Varadkar about how difficult it was to get a medical card for his baby.
"Our lives as parents have been turned upside down," said Adam. "You would hope that I wouldn't need to spend three weeks chasing statements about my accounts, about our credit union savings, statements from Revenue. You would like to think the system would take a bit of the load off us."
Adam said they first applied for a medical card for Noah in July.
"This is very simple; if somebody in Crumlin (Children's Hospital) says he needs a medical card, or any child needs a medical card, why does the application have to go through six different people?" Adam said.
"I do not qualify financially for a medical card, but Noah should on medical grounds. It is for him."
He also rang the medical card department in the HSE to explain their predicament and, "an urgent request was raised to the medical officer with a response promised in 24-48 hours".
At lunchtime on December 30 - five days later - they still had no decision on their application, so he posted on Facebook and by close of business he was contacted to say that Noah had his medical card number.
While welcoming the decision, Adam believes that social media played a role in securing the outcome. A representative for the HSE has since apologised to the family.
"There was an administrative delay in the processing of a medical card for baby Noah," they said. "The HSE has contacted baby Noah's father to apologise for the delay and for any distress the delay may have caused."