Mother accuses HSE of 'bullying' her family

The mother of a child with Down syndrome whose discretionary medical card was scrapped has accused the HSE of “bullying” her family into accepting sub-standard care.

Mother accuses HSE of 'bullying' her family

Noreen Keane said she is being forced to accept support which does not meet her eight-year-old son Ronan’s needs due to an “anti-disability” agenda within Government.

The Limerick mother — who gained national attention last autumn when the Irish Examiner revealed she was blanked by Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside Fine Gael’s ard fheis — said when her case received public attention, the HSE agreed to meet to resolve the issue.

However, she said these discussions resulted in her being bypassed by officials, who contacted the family’s pharmacy directly without their permission to set up an alternative, long-term illness card.

Ms Keane said this card only covers half of the cost of Ronan’s drugs and does not reduce the cost of 15-to-20 GP visits a year for his 13 separate conditions — a common concern of card holders with Down syndrome.

However, despite raising these issues, the Limerick mother was told no other option will be made available — leading her to make an official complaint over claims she is being bullied into accepting sub-standard care.

“The gloves are off on this,” Ms Keane said. “I made it extremely clear in those meetings that I was not accepting the long- term illness card because Ronan had the discretionary medical card since birth and nothing has changed.

“For them to then have the audacity to contact my pharmacy directly and without my permission is bullying; it is pushing us into something we cannot accept.

“I have a reasonable income but we are barely surviving. With GP visits and drug costs alone it is costing us €2,500 a month,” she said.

Ms Keane said she believes her situation and that of thousands of other discretionary medical card holders shows “this Government is anti-disability”.

Despite repeated requests for a meeting, Mr Kenny has yet to confirm when he is available.

Meanwhile, a leading doctor whose seriously ill patients are regularly being turned down for discretionary medical cards has told the HSE to reveal their exact calculations for deciding if an applicant is in “financial hardship” — or admit it does not exist.

The Beaumont Hospital consultant neurologist Prof Orla Hardiman made the call during Tuesday’s Oireachtas health committee meeting,

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