'Unfair' lack of access to chiropodists

Kieran Barrett

Fianna Fáil TD John Brassil has criticised the utter lack of chiropody services for medical card holders in Kerry, describing it as completely unfair on people in urgent need of treatment.

His comments come after the HSE confirmed there are currently no chiropodists available to medical-card patients in the county. The confirmation was gleaned in a response to a question Deputy Brassil asked Minister for Health Simon Harris.

The letter from the Health Service Executive stated that "There are currently no chiropodists in Kerry to treat medical card holders. There are however 2 High Risk Podiatrists and 1 Hospital Podiatrist in place. Patients do not need a medical card to access this service as it is a needs led service."

This means that "High Risk clinic priority is given to those patients with the greatest medical need/or greatest risk of foot complications" i.e. those with active ulceration, infection or at risk of amputation.

In responding to the letter, Deputy Brassil, said that "While the HSE does employ podiatrists in hospital settings for high risk patients, there is no support at a community level.

"We need to see a return to community chiropodists based out of primary care centres calling around to people who might need expert foot care.

Deputy Brassil criticised the HSE's decision to give clinic priority to high risk patients as he believes allowing low risk patients to develop into high risk patients may endanger their wellbeing. "People with diabetes, and older people, are at severe risk of poor foot health. Leaving treating them until they become high risk is short sighted and risks their health."


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