A little girl with a complex bowel condition was in limbo last night over red tape in England linked to Ireland’s treatment-abroad funding scheme.

Abbey Murphy, 7, from Ballyvolane in Cork, was due to fly to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital today for specialist tests as a private patient to determine her future medical treatment for a distressing condition which causes her to vomit faeces.

But following the intervention yesterday of her local TD, Jonathan O’Brien, and Health Minister Simon Harris, it has emerged that the world-renowned hospital cannot accept funding from the HSE’s treatment abroad scheme for private patients.

The HSE said it couldn’t comment on Abbey’s case for reasons of patient confidentiality, but in a statement said: “The HSE treatment abroad scheme assesses applications received for and prior to any treatment in the public health system of another EU/EEA member state or Switzerland. Private patients are not eligible to access the scheme.”

Abbey’s family, who had flights booked to London today, were in limbo last night as frantic efforts got under way to find a way of paying for the procedures, estimated to cost about £16,000 (€19,100).

Abbey’s distraught grandmother, Kathleen Weir, outlined their plight on The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM yesterday, and claimed the HSE would not release the funds.

Moved by Abbey’s plight, listeners pledged €22,000 within an hour, but all the money has yet to be transferred.

It is understood the treatment abroad scheme funding was never withdrawn, and is available if Abbey is treated as a public patient.

Mr O’Brien, who contacted Great Ormond Street yesterday, said a hospital spokesman told him it cannot accept the state payment for a private patient.

Abbey was diagnosed at the age of three with diaphragmatic hernia— a hole in the diaphragm which allows the abdominal organs to move into the chest cavity.

She underwent surgery to repair it, but has endured the complex bowel condition for almost five years.

A consultant at Great Ormond Street told Abbey’s family in February that she needs specialist tests at the hospital to determine future medical treatment, and that the tests should be done as soon as possible.

Within months of applying to the hospital for the treatment as a private patient, she secured next week’s appointment. She faces a three-year wait on the public list.

Ms Weir said she fears her granddaughter could die of poisoning unless the issue is resolved soon.


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