HSE scraps changes to grants for cancer patients

The HSE has shelved plans to introduce a new scheme to cover grants for mastectomy prosthetics and wigs for cancer patients.

The plan, which would have altered the levels of grant funding available for post- mastectomy products and wigs/hairpieces, sparked an outcry among retailers who provide the products to patients.

It was initially planned to introduce the changes a month ago, but the proposal had sparked an angry response from Health Minister Simon Harris, who had been unaware of the move.

Fine Gael senator Colm Burke also criticised the plan and the HSE announced it was to postpone the introduction of the scheme until August. Now, however, it has confirmed the plan has been dropped entirely and an expert group — which had been formed to review the scheme — would now be considering other options.

Responding to the Irish Examiner, the HSE said: “Following concerns raised in relation to the HSE’s recently published new guidelines on post-mastectomy products, wigs and hairpieces, the national director primary care, John Hennessy, advises that the guidelines are now withdrawn and the expert group has been recalled to give further consideration to the issue.

“This means that each area will continue to operate the existing local guidelines in place for the provision of these products.”

Valerie Murphy of Valerie’s BreastCare in Limerick welcomed the withdrawal and said: “They are going back to the drawing board.”

However, she said there was a need for some standardisation of grant levels across the country as some areas were losing out.

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