“HSE incompetence could lead to inhumane suffering among pensioners who are threatened with leg amputation” says Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice.
Michael Fitzmaurice, Independent TD for the Roscommon/Galway constituency, has slammed the HSE for their inhumane stance on not funding a vital medical device which could potentially save patients the torment of having their leg amputated.
The Art Assist Pump is recommended by physicians when they feel a patient requires it in order to avoid having their leg amputated. In 2012 the HSE circulated a memo to doctors explaining that the apparatus would not be funded under the Medical Card Scheme, and that if they prescribed the machine it was in the full knowledge that clients would have to pay for it privately.
A response received from the HSE to a representation by Deputy Fitzmaurice stated:
“The Art Assist pump is currently being examined for it’s clinical efficacy and is being reviewed as part of the Clinical Programmes at a national level. The HSE National Director for Quality, Safety and Risk is undertaking a full assessment of the efficacy of the Art Assist pump to establish not just its appropriateness but also the clinical benefit if any that is provides to patients.
Consultants in HSE West have been notified that the review is taking place and have been informed that HSE West cannot fund new patients whilst the review is incomplete…”
Deputy Fitzmaurice also referred to the experience of a constituent, surviving on a pension, who has been told that if he fails to use the machine for another 3 months, he will risk having his leg amputated.
“This man has already paid over €2,000 out of his own pocket for this machine. He has now been told by his consultant that he needs it for 3 more months or he will risk losing his leg. Yet, the HSE, who funded up to 2012, are saying they will not fund the machine. However, if this man has to have his leg amputated, they will cover the cost of the amputation.” says Michael Fitzmaurice.
“It is absolutely scandalous that the HSE will fund the amputation of a patients leg but will not fund the machine that might enable them to keep their leg. The excuse that they are reviewing the ‘benefits’ of this machine does not fly, because as far as I am concerned the primary physician for the patient, and not some bureaucrat, is the person who should be making any such decisions.”
“It is inhumane as far as I am concerned. The fact a pensioner must decide between the basics of food, light and heat or paying for a machine which can help him keep his leg is absolutely criminal.”
“I am calling on the HSE, the Minister and the Government as a whole to address to matter and make the changes necessary to ensure those most vulnerable in our society are not subjected to this kind of emotional torture.” concluded Deputy Fitzmaurice