Calls for a mandatory review of the Long-Term Illness Scheme have been made to ensure that patients get the support and care they require.
Sinn Féin has published a bill that would ensure three-year reviews into the effectiveness of the scheme, so that changes, upgrades, and additions can be made for those with long-term illnesses.
The scheme currently provides a range of drugs, medicines, and surgical appliances, without charge, to people suffering from long-term diseases or disabilities.
Louise O’Reilly, Sinn Féin’s health spokeswoman, said the scheme has been a great success and aids thousands of people across the country. However, she said many people cannot access it.
“People want, and need, to have their conditions included in the scheme,” she said. “It’s a real barrier for people accessing medicines, accessing appliances, and, indeed, sometimes even accessing diagnostics.”
She said there has not been an addition to the scheme since 1970 and said the reviews, which would be carried out every three years, would include new medicines and conditions.
She said the proposed legislation is “very simple, but will be very effective”, if implemented, and urged other politicians, from all parties and none, to support the bill.
“I would imagine that there would be plenty of people on the Government benches who will support this, who would see that it is necessary and they will lend their support,” she said.
“I’ve constituents come to me, and other TDs have, too, telling them that it’s not fit-for-purpose and needs updating, this just makes that mandatory.”
Ms O’Reilly said the bill would not require additional funding, as it only mandates a review every three years. She added that people denied access to the scheme were already using HSE services.